The former Oregon State standout was selected by Cleveland with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft before being dealt to Dallas a day later. To date, the 24-year-old has failed to find a permanent home in the NBA, spending time with five teams – the Mavericks, Hawks, Kings, Clippers, and Cavaliers – over the past four-plus seasons.
In total, Cunningham has appeared in 80 NBA games, holding career averages of 2.3 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.5 assists in just 6.9 minutes per game.
Cunningham began the season with the Cavaliers and appeared in 40 games, by far his single-season career high, before being dealt to the Magic at the trade deadline as part of the Channing Frye deal. Cunningham was subsequently waived by the Magic on Feb. 18 and has since been playing in the D-League as a member of the Idaho Stampede. In three D-League games, Cunningham averaged 17.3 points, 4.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting only 27.9% from the field.
Cunningham is capable of playing both guard spots and will likely immediately factor into the bench rotation alongside Rashad Vaughn and Tyler Ennis. While he’s only a career 30.9% (17-55) three-point shooter, Cunningham is a borderline-elite athlete for his size (6-4. 195lbs) and employs a much more aggressive style, offensively, than either Vaughn or Ennis.
Milwaukee, currently dealing with a number of injuries, will sign Cunningham using the NBA’s hardship exemption, which grants a temporary roster spot allowing a team to exceed the 15-man roster. Per the release issued by the Bucks, in order to qualify for the exception, a team “must have four players who are sick or injured and have missed at least three consecutive games, and will continue to be unable to play as determined through an independent physician.”
With John Henson making his return Tuesday night, the Bucks are currently without Greivis Vasquez (ankle), O.J. Mayo (ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (hip), and Steve Novak (knee). The latter three have been ruled out for the season, while Vasquez remains hopeful to return at some point before the end of the regular season after undergoing right ankle surgery in December.
The Journal Sentinel reported last Friday that Vasquez could be back at practice as early as sometime this week, but he remains without a firm timetable for a return to game action.
UPDATE: Vasquez, himself, took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to announce that he practiced with the team:
I was excited to be back on the floor today for my 1st team practice since my surgery. Love the game of basketball.. #TeamVasquez
— Greivis Vasquez (@greivisvasquez) March 16, 2016
If #TeamVasquez is able to return this season, which now seems very likely, the Bucks would no longer be eligible for the hardship exception and would have to release either Cunningham or another player to get back down to 15 men on the roster.
Cunningham is Milwaukee’s first 10-day signee of the season. In 2014-15, the Bucks brought in three players on 10-day deals – Kenyon Martin, Jorge Gutierrez, and Chris Johnson – but only Gutierrez was retained beyond his second 10-day contract. NBA rules stipulate that a team may sign a player to only two consecutive 10-day contracts before either signing the player for the remainder of the season or releasing him.