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Different Strokes: The Futures of John Jenkins and Jared Cunningham in Atlanta

Did you miss me? I’m back and ready for another fun season. Let’s hit the ground running, shall we?

The Atlanta Hawks and General Manager Danny Ferry have exercised their 2014-2015 team option on sophomore sharpshooter John Jenkins. Ferry and company narrowly escaped the deadline as they decided to keep Jenkins around for another year. Jared Cunningham, who Atlanta acquired on draft night last June, did not have his option exercised.

Here’s an excerpt from Chris Vivlamore’s report for the AJC:

Jenkins will receive $1.31 million in the third year of his rookie contract next season. The Hawks also have a team option on the guard for the 2015-16 season at $2.23 million and the right to make a qualifying offer for the 2016-17 season. The Hawks drafted Jenkins in the first round last year with the 23rd overall selection out of Vanderbilt. He appeared in 61 games last season and averaged 6.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists.

If you remember any of my posts from last year, you should know that I am a big fan of J-Lo (Jenkins). I hope to see him succeed in a Hawks uniform and get quality minutes like his draft partner Mike Scott. Is that too hard to ask? It appears he needs to get into “game shape” after missing most of the preseason with back issues.

Jenkins’ long-term future in Atlanta is still undecided, as Ferry must decide again next year to pick up his team option for 2015-2016. Danny Ferry, the Undercover Brother, only has three players under contract in 2015 (Horf, #insaniTEAGUE & Korver) so he has plenty of options. If Johnny has a nice season off the bench this year and plays well next year, I don’t see why Ferry wouldn’t keep a productive player around on a rookie-scale deal. Looking at his free agency in 2016, its just too far away to predict if he’ll get locked up long-term.

Cunningham, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season, doesn’t appear to fit in Ferry’s long term plan. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ships him off for an early 30’s second-round draft pick at the deadline or just has him ride the pine all year (which seems silly if they don’t want to play/develop him, but, hey, I’m not Danny Ferry).

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