The New Orleans Pelicans are not expected to be involved in any major trade deadline deals today, yet there’s a strong chance something smaller gets done.
Earlier this morning, Scott Kushner of The Advocate reported that the Pelicans would like to move Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca.
I don't expect a flurry of activity from the #Pelicans at today's deadline.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) February 8, 2018
The main priorities, per various sources, appear to be moving Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca, while adding some depth in the process.
After largely disappointing the previous two seasons, Ajinca is not expected to play at all during this campaign. Following bilateral knee injections in October, Ajinca had surgery back in early December to repair a patellar tendon that was scheduled to sideline him for 4-6 months.
Ajinca has one year remaining on his contract after the 2017-18 season, but New Orleans is keen to reduce salary before the next free agency period. The assumption is the organization plans to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins — despite his ruptured Achilles injury, and a new contract would likely start at just north of $30 million for next season.
On the flip side, Cunningham has appeared in 51 of 53 games; however, his play has thoroughly underwhelmed on both sides of the floor, proving last year’s revelation in performance to be nothing more than a distant memory. After hoping to score a multi-year contract during the last offseason, Cunningham settled on a one-year deal that was valued $800K less than the player option he turned down last season.
Within the last hour, Cunningham’s name has appeared in a lot of rumors. Reportedly, the Detroit Pistons have offered Brice Johnson and a future second round pick.
Pistons also in discussions to acquire Dante Cunningham from the Pelicans for Brice Johnson and a 2nd round pick— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) February 8, 2018
This news was corroborated by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski minutes later, but Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated revealed the biggest key piece of news: Cunningham has requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.
League sources told @TheCrossover on Wednesday night Dante Cunningham requested a trade. Sources have confirmed the discussions between the Pistons and Pelicans today. It is unclear if New Orleans would keep Brice Johnson. https://t.co/qQHWckjK1Y— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 8, 2018
Cunningham’s current contract allows for him to veto any trade thanks to the one-year bird restriction; however, it appears he is willing to waive that right in order to land in a new destination.
If the Detroit Pistons talks fall apart, another possible destination for Cunningham could be the Minnesota Timberwolves per David Aldridge.