DeMarcus Cousins informed the media late last week that his recruiting efforts have canvassed pretty much the entire league, including pursuit of some of the biggest names rumored to be available.
“I’ve reached out to everybody,” said Cousins. “I mean, I don’t want to throw names out there, but some of the biggest names that are on the block right now I’ve reached out to.”
Could one of those references be to Carmelo Anthony?
Evidence #1: On Friday, a random tweet by a fan contemplated Melo joining New Orleans, tagging Cousins, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the process. Boogie responded on twitter with one word, “Facts.”
Facts— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) August 4, 2017
Evidence #2: A Pelicans fan Instagram account posted a picture of Melo and Boogie over the weekend. Hours later, Cousins liked the page and left an eyes emoji in the comments section.
Does Cousins just enjoy trolling his new fans in New Orleans or is he hinting at something more worthwhile? I’m sure it’s the latter and the news shouldn’t come as a surprise — Carmelo Anthony is DeMarcus Cousins’ idol.
Cousins grew up admiring Anthony. So being on the Olympic team not only allows Cousins a chance to win a gold medal next month in Rio de Janeiro, it gives the Kings center an opportunity to play alongside his favorite player.
“It’s dope,” Cousins said after a recent practice at the Mendenhall Center. “I enjoy being around him. He’s got so so much experience in this game. It’s well known that I’ve been a Melo fan my whole life. Just to be able to work with him daily is going to help me become a better player. I’m excited for it.”
Now that I’ve gotten your hopes up, let’s mention the bad news. New Orleans sits less than $1 million dollars from the tax, Anthony is slated to make over $26 million and the Pelicans have incredibly little to offer the Knicks outside of AD and Boogie in return. However, the most negative aspect might be the details of Carmelo’s contract as it wields a no trade clause and a 15% trade kicker.
Given his history with New York, there’s a good chance Melo might waive his no trade clause, but it’s unclear if he’d also be willing to forfeit his trade kicker — $8.1 million is a lot of money to give up! If he decides he wants the money like any red-blooded American, Dell Demps would be stuck trying to fit $34,369,545 onto the salary cap sheet. Not even trading away Solomon Hill, Omer Asik and E’Twaun Moore would do the trick here because they’re set to make a combined $31,277,064. Considering the Pelicans are approximately $1.5 million from the hard cap, even this ridiculous offer from the Knicks perspective would be a no-go.
Carmelo could make things easier on the Pelicans if he still wants the trade kicker money by agreeing in writing to become a free agent in 2019. This move would effectively kill the player option in the final year of his contract and allow for the trade kicker to be spread over the next two seasons — thus lowering the amount of salary the Pelicans would need to take back in a potential trade now.
The problem with this is obvious though: it would bind Carmelo to New Orleans for the next two seasons. If things were to go terribly south in 2017-18, he could be left high and dry in the Crescent City as Cousins decides to bolt during the next free agency period. While Davis and Holiday would remain, it might not be enough to entice Carmelo since he may have no desire to transplant his family to New Orleans in the first place. After all, there’s never been a Melo-to-Nola rumor posted by a legitimate source in the past.
The most Pelicans-friendly decision would be to waive the trade kicker entirely because less than $25 million in salary would have to be moved out. Yet, this scenario still seems incredible unlikely to happen, even if a third or fourth team were added to the mix. And, hey, we haven’t even discussed whether the front office should have any interest in a highly priced player approaching the twilight of his career and is probably better suited at power forward.
As much as DeMarcus Cousins apparently wants to see Carmelo Anthony wear the same uniform as he in a few months time, the thought is difficult to fathom because simply too much reality stands in the way.