NBA

Dante Cunningham: The Journeyman

Dante Cunningham talks to Basketball Insiders about life as a journeyman in the NBA.

4 min read
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A journeyman in the NBA is typically a player who is well-traveled around the league. Every other year or so it seems as if they’re playing for a different team. No matter where they end up next or what uniform they put on, they always manage to make positive contributions on the court for their current team.

Dante Cunningham is someone who definitely fits that bill. Currently with the Brooklyn Nets, Cunningham is on his sixth team in nine years in the NBA. Previously he’s had stops with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New Orleans Pelicans.

He’s been traded three times and prior to the past three and half years in New Orleans, he had been with a team no more than two years. It’s no wonder, then, that as he’s approaching a decade in the NBA, he’s looking for some long-term stability.

“Honestly, I want a good fit, a good team and a good home,” Cunningham told Basketball Insiders. “I’ve been around a couple of teams but I always seem to fit in and play on every team that I’ve been to. It’s towards the end of my career and I would like to kind of have more of a stable home situation.”

Cunningham is no stranger to free agency. He’s been through it four times already. The longest contract he signed was back in the summer of 2011. He was coming off his second year in the NBA. He had been traded midseason from Portland to Charlotte and he had flourished with the Bobcats.

As a result, the Grizzlies came calling in the offseason with a three-year, $7 million offer. As a restricted free agent, Charlotte had the right to match but declined to do so. He only lasted a year in Memphis before being traded to Minnesota.

He began the season part of a Pelicans team looking to make the playoffs, but was once again traded at the deadline to the Nets. While the Nets are a team that will miss the postseason for the third consecutive year, Cunningham has liked what he’s seen from this young group.

“We have such fight regardless of if we’re down,” Cunningham told Basketball Insiders. “We always have an opportunity knowing that no one has their head down. There’s always someone ready to step up and get it done.”

Despite their overall record, the Nets have been involved in quite a few close games. They just haven’t been able to close them out. This is a team that plays hard and scrappy. Night in and night out they’re going to compete, even if it doesn’t always translate to wins.

The way the Nets play is almost like a mirror image of Cunningham’s career. He’s never been a flashy player. He’s not going to jump off the stat sheet. He has career averages of 6.0 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, 0.5 blocks and 0.7 steals.

He’s never averaged double figures in scoring. But you know what you’re going to get with him, that’s positive contributions. He’s going to play tough defense, crash the glass and score when needed.

“It’s a hard-nosed team. I love the competitiveness that we have,” Cunningham told Basketball Insiders. “It’s right up my alley, just to continue to grind, push the ball and fight.”

After having been in the league for nine years now, Cunningham has seen his role begin to change. Although he’s still getting a decent amount of playing time (20.4 minutes per with the Nets), he’s becoming very valuable for what he can bring off the court.

As players begin to transition towards the end of their careers, they become more important for the mentoring they can provide to the younger guys in the locker room. For a team like the Nets that is full of youth, an older veteran like Cunningham is precisely what they need to keep them in line.

“It’s definitely changed a little, I’m one of the older guys now. I think I’m top two oldest on the team,” Cunningham told Basketball Insiders. “Guys are looking at me a little differently as in different questioning. Some guys may or may not have been through certain things and I’m kind of there to help fill in, to continue to give them an edge and push them.”

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Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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