Dante Cunningham Reportedly Agrees to 1-Year, $2.3M Contract with Pelicans

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2017

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 17:  Dante Cunningham #33 of the New Orleans Pelicans is introduced before a game against the Houston Rockets on March 17, 2017 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New Orleans Pelicans and free-agent forward Dante Cunningham reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2.3 million contract Tuesday, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania. He will likely serve as their backup power forward

Cunningham, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Pelicans. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 66 games in 2016-17, knocked down 48.5 percent of his shots overall and hit 39.2 percent of his threes.

The Pelicans encouraged Cunningham to step back beyond the arc each of the last two seasons, and he's become a better player as a result. After making a grand total of two threes in his first six NBA seasons, Cunningham has made 126 over his last two.

A good amount of those shots have come from parking him in the corner and allowing New Orleans' shot creators to get him the ball, which has nice value. Cunningham helps spread the floor now in ways he never did in any of his previous NBA stops, and his lineup stats told a story of a player who contributed beyond his counting stats.

The Pelicans were 2.4 points per 100 possessions better with Cunningham on the floor last season, and their offensive rating went up more than four points, per Basketball Reference.

Chris Haynes of ESPN.com noted Cunningham is also known as a "stable" locker room presence, which the Pelicans will likely value as they attempt to make the Anthony Davis-DeMarcus Cousins partnership work. 

With his game improving from a skills standpoint as he reaches his 30s, his shooting and leadership skills will be vital in making this a good contract.