Norris Cole Agrees to Contract with Thunder

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2017

AUBURN HILLS, MI - FEBRUARY 21: Norris Cole #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball during the game against the Detroit Pistons on February 21, 2016 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. 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 2016 NBAE (Photo by B. Sevald/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
B. Sevald/Einstein/Getty Images

Norris Cole is returning to the NBA after reportedly agreeing to terms on a contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, The Vertical's Shams Charania reported Tuesday.

Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico confirmed the report.

In October, Cole signed a contract with the Shandong Golden Stars in the Chinese Basketball Association. Amico reported the 28-year-old retained the ability to break the contract if he had the opportunity to join an NBA team.

According to RealGM, Cole averaged 19.1 points on 41.2 percent shooting in nine games overseas. He also connected on 28.6 percent of his three-point attempts and dished out 4.3 assists a night.

Cole's last stint in the NBA came with the New Orleans Pelicans. He arrived in the Big Easy in February 2015 as part of the Goran Dragic trade and played 73 games for the team over a season-and-a-half.

In 2015-16, Cole averaged a career-high 10.6 points and 3.7 assists a game.

The numbers failed to cover up what was still an underwhelming year in terms of Cole's performance. He was limited to only 45 games, battling a left ankle sprain last October and a back problem in March. According to NBA.com, the Pelicans were two points worse off per 100 possessions with Cole on the floor as well.

Signing Cole is a sign of how desperate the Thunder are to add point guard depth.

In his first five NBA seasons, Cole was last in win shares (3.1) and overall box plus/minus (-3.9) among 57 guards who appeared in at least 300 games, per Basketball-Reference.com.

While he's a career 32.6 percent shooter from three-point range, he received a healthy bump from playing with LeBron James on the Miami Heat. In his last two seasons—without the luxury of LeBron—Cole made 31.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

Cole has also struggled with turnovers, averaging 2.3 compared to 4.4 assists per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Still, Cole is a sensible addition considering how few options were available to the Thunder. 

Barring a catastrophe, Oklahoma City won't need Cole to play a vital role on the court, either, thus limiting the damage to the team should his arrival fail to achieve its aims.


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