As more and more NBA free agents sign with teams, roster spots are becoming fewer by the hour. What normally starts on July 1 and winds down by around mid-August, has been condensed into two weeks – with training camp going on at the same time. As you can imagine, this has made it extremely difficult for teams to find any type of cohesion before the season begins on Christmas Day. And the players who are suffering the most are the restricted free agents.
While the biggest names still in restricted free agency are Arron Afflalo, Rodney Stuckey and Nick Young, one of the more interesting cases is Bobcats third-year forward Dante Cunningham.
After arriving in Charlotte via a February trade that sent Gerald Wallace to Portland, the Bobcats moved Cunningham from power forward to small forward and he thrived, averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 22 games (nine of them starts). At 6-8, while showing a consistent mid-range jumper, Cunningham was exactly the type of versatile player Paul Silas needed.
In June, Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced that the team has extended Cunningham a qualifying offer of about $1 million, making him a restricted free agent. The qualifying offer allows the Bobcats to match any offer he receives from another team. Cunningham will not be taking the qualifying offer, a league source told Dime. He has been talking with other teams and has received a couple offers. The source also said that Cunningham would consider returning to Charlotte.
According to The Associated Press, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said before the final game of the season that Charlotte wanted to re-sign the 2009 second-round pick. But with the arrival of Corey Maggette, Derrick Brown and recent signing of Reggie Williams, the Bobcats could be set at small forward.
As we’ve seen with Afflalo, Stuckey and Young, the new collective bargaining agreement has made it especially tough for restricted free agents to get fair market value. And with front offices scared to sign players to an offer sheet if they think their current team will match, many of the games brightest stars are left sitting on the sidelines.
Where do you think Cunningham will land?
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