PLAYA VISTA, Calif. - Jared Cunningham took off on the baseline and nearly flushed down a 180 slam Saturday against the 76ers. Less than a week later, the Clippers have traded him to the team he nearly dunked on.
The Clippers sent Cunningham, the draft rights to Cenk Akyol and cash considerations to the 76ers in exchange for the draft rights to Serhiy Lishchuk on Wednesday afternoon. The deal became official on the same day the Clippers had to make a decision whether or not to keep Cunningham, who had the only non-guaranteed contract on the team, for the remainder of the season.
Had the Clippers not traded Cunningham, he was likely to be released. Trading instead of waiving Cunningham saved a cap hit for the Clippers, while opening a roster spot in the event of a future trade or signing. There have been reports the 76ers don’t plan to keep Cunningham.
Cunningham, whose $915,243 salary this season was the lowest for any player on the team, averaged 1.8 points, .5 assists and .5 rebounds in 19 games. Despite some early struggles for Jordan Farmar, the Clippers stuck by Farmar as the primary backup point guard. That came at the expense of Cunningham, who averaged just 4.7 minutes per game.
He demonstrated spurts of quickness and athleticism in the brief action he got, including Saturday against the 76ers on a spinning dunk attempt that barely rimmed out.
DeAndre Jordan joked prior to Monday’s game against the Hawks that he’d already decided Cunningham would be with the Clippers the rest of the year. That “decision” didn’t come true.
Cunningham sat by his locker prior to that game, unaware of his future with the team. He said he hadn’t had conversations with the team about what they’d do at that point. Cunningham said he’d do whatever he could to help the Clippers win and that he wasn’t worried about playing time this early in his career.
“That’s their decision to make,” Cunningham said. “All I can do is play.”
Akyol, 27, was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 59 overall selection in 2005. The 6-6 guard from Turkey is a member of Galatasaray Liv Hospital of the Turkish Basketball League, averaging 6.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 21 minutes per game.
Lishchuk, 32, was drafted by the Grizzlies with the No. 49 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. The 6-11 forward from Ukraine is a member of Valencia Basket Club of the Spanish League, averaging six points, 3.1 rebounds and .8 steals in 15.6 minutes per game.