The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Monday morning that the franchise has elected to cut veteran forward Alonzo Gee. Gee’s departure leaves the Pelicans’ roster at 15 players, meaning that guard Lance Stephenson has made the team.
Stephenson has played considerably more than Gee this preseason, averaging 23.8 minutes per game to Gee’s nine. Still, the move comes as a surprise given New Orleans’ cap situation. Gee is guaranteed $1.2 million for the season while Stephenson only garnered $100,000 in guaranteed money.
After signing a deal with the Pelicans in September, Stephenson has averaged 6.2 points, 3.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting just over 40 percent from the field. Gee, who spent the 2015-2016 season with New Orleans, had averaged 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. Last season, he played 22.4 minutes per game for the injury-plagued Pelicans.
After adding in the $1.2 million the team will owe Gee for the 2016-2017 season, the Pelicans will enter the year carrying $1.4 million in dead salary cap space.
During the 2014 offseason, Stephenson was a coveted free agent after a string of successful seasons with the Indiana Pacers after being drafted in the second-round. He has lost his luster considerably as his inefficient offensive game and stalled development of his three-point shot has gotten in the way of him en route to becoming a featured piece of a team’s offense.
Still, Stephenson is seen as an above-average defensive player and has the skill set that should translate well as a role player for the Pelicans or a fill-in if one of the team’s primary guards misses time with injury. He may have been miscast as a rising superstar in free agency two years ago, but the Pelicans seem to think he still has value in a reduced role.