A June citation for driving under the influence will lead to Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham being suspended for a game. He’s out for tonight’s Pelicans-Suns tilt.
This is a league-imposed suspension and slap-on-the-wrist-type ban for a player who was once arrested twice in a week. In 2014, the then-Timberwolves cog was arrested twice — the first coming for an alleged act of domestic violence, the second on a suspicion of making terroristic threats. Both charges, though, were later dropped.
The former Villanova standout has been mostly used as a backup since coming into the league in 2009 as a second-round pick. But New Orleans has given Cunningham consistent run since he joined the team in 2014. Seventy-five of the 29-year-old Cunningham’s 116 NBA starts have come in the past three seasons with the Pels.
Terrence Jones figures to see more time in Cunningham’s absence, one that further strips the Pelicans — at least for tonight — of another rotation piece. The Anthony Davis-led team is missing Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Poindexter already, thinning the team out at the small forward position. Solomon Hill is the only able player at small forward for the Pelicans officially, but they could well use off-guard Lance Stephenson there more often against Phoenix.
Cunningham’s citation came in Washington after he failed a sobriety test with a blood-alcohol level of .094 — which is over the state’s legal limit of .08. The Virginia native was clocked going 67 mph in a 40-mph zone that morning.
The journeyman is averaging 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in five contests with the Pelicans this season. He’s started two games and played 38 minutes against the Bucks on Tuesday. However, the Pelicans used him for just five minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Grizzlies.