The move isn’t necessarily a surprise. Dante Cunningham is an underpaid, versatile player who has split time between the small and power forward positions for the Pelicans. His ability to defend multiple spots and shoot the three-ball will without a doubt attract a market in free agency.
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Cunningham led the Pelicans in three-point shooting this season with a 39.2 percent clip from outside and is an ideal glue guy who I’m sure the New Orleans would have been more than happy with keeping at his $3.1 million salary next season.
Instead, it looks as if Cunningham will test the open market and allow teams to bid on his services.
Basically a 3-and-D wing from the stretch-forward spot, Cunningham should expect to see an increase in salary next season. The NBA’s salary cap is continuing to rise and after declining his player option, a number of teams will be interested in veteran player of his skill-set.
The Pelicans won’t have a lot a flexibility this offseason to add talent to their roster. They are expected to shed some of their least efficient contracts such as Omer Asik‘s and possibly more in an effort to create more cap space.
Unfortunately, Dante Cunningham declining his player option will not provide much relief on the Pelicans cap sheed. Cunningham’s salary of $3.1 million would have only accounted for just 2.8 percent against the cap for the 2017-18 season.
Cunningham, who just turned 30, has played the past three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans. His previous stops included Portland, Charlotte, Memphis and Minnesota.