The New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins tonight. Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, the Pelicans 2017 first round pick (top three protected), and Philadelphia’s 2017 second round pick were all it cost to snag a second All-Star.
That’s it — I know, I’m just as shocked as you.
This isn’t a matter of New Orleans having the best potential offer. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers could all have offered more. They chose not to offer more. (Or the Kings failed to suss out better deals, which is really bad.) Dell Demps outbid them all, likely a combination of higher tolerance for the risk that some perceive that comes with Boogie and pure desperation to maintain employment in the Pelicans’ front office.
I haven’t been high on this front office, but this deal is amazing. DeMarcus Cousins is a legitimate star, and probably the best pure center in the entire NBA. Just 26 years old, tonight marked Boogie’s third straight All-Star appearance. He’s averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds a game for four consecutive seasons. Cousins has been selected to the All-NBA second team in the last two years.
The risks are his legendary temper on the court and a contract that expires in June 2018. I am an admitted Boogie Cousins apologist. I’ve seen his antics on the court and I just don’t care enough to worry because he’s so damn good at basketball. Yes, there will be frustration. Cousins will be suspended a game every other technical foul for the remainder of the season since he has 19 eyesores so far. As far as the contract goes, it’s a risk but one the Pelicans should be (and clearly are) willing to accept.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are the best front line in the entire NBA. Full-stop. They’re the best power forward and center combination since Tim Duncan and David Robinson teamed up in San Antonio. New Orleans will have to find a way to make that talent work together so expect growing pains in the beginning. There is even a possibility, however remote, that it takes too long to click this season and the Pelicans miss the playoffs. That’s okay. Getting DeMarcus Cousins in a Pelicans uniform is still worth it.
This might not work, but on paper it should. Cousins will play center, putting AD in his preferred position at power forward. New Orleans should absolutely maul teams in the paint. Cousins is a good defender, better than many will give him credit for before he arrives. The Pelicans will be a force on the glass and have the potential to punish teams for going small.
Offense, where New Orleans has struggled mightily, should get a big boost. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are going to live at the foul line. Offensive rebounding might become a bigger point of emphasis thanks to the skill sets on the floor, helping offensive efficiency even more. Defense is probably going to take a step back, but less than I anticipated when discussing Jahlil Okafor or Brook Lopez. Cousins is remarkably nimble on his feet and a solid rim protector. Could a lighter load on offense improve the defensive effort from both Cousins and Davis on a play-to-play basis?
Alvin Gentry has things to work out in the rotation and it does not appear Dell Demps is done dealing. Terrence Jones is potentially on the trading block and the Pelicans are suddenly quite shallow on the wings. Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, and Tim Frazier form the total guard rotation although interest in both Quinn Cook (Pelican during the pre-season and D-League All-Star MVP on Saturday) and Lance Stephenson could bolster that rotation.
The starting lineup will presumably be Holiday, Moore, Solomon Hill, Davis, and Cousins; Frazier, Cook, Stephenson, Omri Casspi (reportedly in this deal as well), Dante Cunningham, and Donatas Motiejunas form the bench mob. I don’t see many, if any, minutes available for Alexis Ajinca (who the Pelicans will likely try to move) or Omer Asik. Cheick Diallo will continue to toil in the D-League unless additional trades open up roster space. Look for Moore and Holiday to do the lion’s share of the work at shooting guard with Holiday playing beside either Frazier or Cook for some stretches.
This trade is an absolute heist. Sacramento Kings fans are, and have every right to be, irate with their front office. To those fans who are visiting our site, welcome. We recognize that your front office did something incredibly foolish and you are the unfortunate victims.
To the Pelican fans, celebrate! But, please be respectful to Kings fans who are visiting. We hope that courtesy can be returned in kind.