The New Orleans Pelicans have declined to extend a qualifying offer to Stanley Johnson, making the former Arizona Wildcats standout an unrestricted free agent on June 30, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Sources: The Pelicans have declined to extend a qualifying offer to forward Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent. Johnson, 23, is a strong defender and will receive interest from several teams. Allows Pelicans to now have upwards of $28M in open space.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 27, 2019
For his career, Johnson is averaging 7.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on a lackluster shooting line of .374/.293/.764, never averaging more than 8.7 points per game in a season.
The Pistons traded Johnson to the Pelicans during the 2018-19 season, and he averaged 5.3 points in 13.7 minutes per game in New Orleans.
The 23-year-old averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his lone season at Arizona. The former McDonald’s All-American was voted first-team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Had New Orleans extended a qualifying offer (worth roughly $5.3 million), Johnson would have been a restricted free agent this summer and the Pelicans would have had the right to match any offer.
Charania reports that Johnson will receive interest from several teams, partly because of his defensive ability. Johnson gained some notoriety in 2016 when he pestered LeBron James during the NBA Playoffs.
Maybe Johnson, from nearby Orange County, will join LeBron on the Lakers, who have a ton of roster spots to fill after gutting their team for Anthony Davis.
In the meantime, here is a funny story involving Johnson:
Stanley Johnson news allows me to re-post my favorite Summer League story ever! Johnson was playing in Orlando Summer League before his second year. In one game he got a player trapped in the corner and just kept pressing up on the guy defensively.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 27, 2019
The player eventually threw the ball off Johnson and said "Damn man! Why are you playing so hard? You already made the league!" Sitting nearby was Stan Van Gundy who very loudly, yet under his breath, said "And that's why you'll never be in the league."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 27, 2019
SVG was right. The offensive player hasn't sniffed an NBA roster since. I became a big Stanley Johnson fan at that point. Give me guys who play hard everyday. It's a skill that not enough players have. Hoping Johnson eventually finds his place in the NBA and gets back at it!— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 27, 2019