clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

With Dante Cunningham re-signed, New Orleans Pelicans may now have their starting small forward

New, comments

The over-exaggerated drama is over!

New Orleans Pelicans v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

According to Shams Charania, Dante Cunningham is coming back to play for the New Orleans Pelicans for at least one more season.

Life in New Orleans can finally return back to normal.

Haha, but in all seriousness, the $2.3 million contract is interesting for several reasons. One, it represents a sum that’s slightly higher than his CBA veteran minimum eligible amount of $2,106,470. This may explain why Cunningham took so long in deciding on whether to come back to the Pelicans or go elsewhere like the Minnesota Timberwolves. The salaries are in close proximity — perhaps a slap in the face of a player who turned down a $3.1 million dollar player option last May. However, by the Pelicans giving Dante just $200K more, they effectively reduced their salary cap space by $800K from the luxury line and hard cap.

Despite this, Dell Demps still has some space left under the hard cap — $1,556,125 to be exact — to maneuver in the event of injury or a small uneven trade presents itself, one that obviously doesn’t allow taking back a lopsided amount of salary in return.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, Cunningham is a replacement level player, but his value to the Pelicans is significantly higher. He knows the players and system, fills a large hole on the Pelicans roster at both forward positions, and in my opinion, makes the most sense to replace Solomon Hill in the starting lineup.

Scanning the remaining free agent crop is a bit depressing; however, there is one notable player who started 81 games under Gentry over the past two seasons. A familiar face who Gentry named the starter at small forward before the start of the 2015-16 campaign because Quincy Pondexter wasn’t ready. A guy who offers positional versatility and some 3-and-D unlike one trick ponies in Tony Allen, Anthony Morrow or Shabazz Muhammad. And the best news is that this forward has spent more time at the three than four (56% vs. 43%) during his New Orleans tenure and is a more efficient offensive factor than the guy he’s replacing.

Darius Miller is a total crap shoot because we have no idea if his shooting proficiency and aggressiveness will carry over from Germany and he won’t wind up a burden on the team’s defense. E’Twaun Moore is a versatile wing, but Alvin Gentry has stated he prefers a larger body and seems to like Moore’s contributions off the bench. Tony Allen, as I alluded to above, is an all-world defender and his offense would have potentially clashed with another poor outside shooter in Rajon Rondo.

What do you guys think?