The DeMarcus Cousins-trade sent a shock wave of hope through the Crescent City last February. However, was it truly understood that the play of Cousins alone could change the landscape of not only the team’s future but also the standing of Anthony Davis, Alvin Gentry, Dell Demps and more?
But let’s digress for a moment. Of all the concerns heading into this upcoming season involving Cousins, first comes the question of whether he and Davis can coexist well enough for the team to enjoy immediate success.
Considering the nature of their friendship, shifting the focal point between the two should not be an issue. Even so, that would still leave us expecting close to 25 ppg and 10 reb on average from both. Granted, the third sizable option in the Pelican’s rotation is still an unknown. That could make it easier for them to obtain what we have come accustomed to seeing on a nightly basis before they joined forces; however, the workload should remain nothing short than massive.
Due to the lack of depth — Omer Asik is out indefinitely, Alexis Ajinca’s fit is questionable and Cheick Diallo is probably still a little too raw, this is where usage rate may become an issue. Depth allows rest, and frankly the Pelicans will not have much of either to offer Cousins.
The league understanding is that seasoned star players are turning to destinations that they feel will not only make the game itself easier for them but of course provide plenty of wins, too. This is exactly the situation New Orleans is trying to present to Cousins because he is extremely hungry to partake in a postseason — something that has eluded him the first seven years of his career.
“Everybody wants to win,” said Cousins on media day. “That’s everybody's mindset. It’s not about any accolades. It’s not about any stats. It’s about winning. I mean, I think everybody is at the point in their career where, you know, they just want to win.”
It is understood that New Orleans is not a free agent destination, so the Pelicans must hope that the presence of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and the proximity to Cousins’ hometown Mobile, Al., will be enough. Cousins did successfully recruit Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark, with the front office doing what they can to help surround their star core with talent at value. But should this plan implode, the dominos will seemingly start to fall.
From here forward, we speak in the hypothetical; even so, this all could very well become reality. If the trade-deadline approaches and New Orleans is underachieving, we could see the end of the Cousins-era. Imagine a world where a thin, injury prone Pelicans roster faces yet another devastating loss like Solomon Hill. This could easily change DeMarcus Cousins’ perception of New Orleans, its ability to stabilize a roster and arrange a squad capable of contending. Therefore, further commitment could be lost, forcing the general manager to make a move.
Now we can talk Dell Demps. At this point, it is understood Demps mortgaged the Pelicans’ future on the rental of DeMarcus Cousins and will probably have to mortgage more to reduce dead cap space such as Asik’s contract. Should this team make the playoffs and re-sign Cousins, it will have been a success. If this is not this case, it may be a stretch trusting Demps to right his wrong in a hypothetical trade-deadline deal involving Cousins. Essentially, this fate holds his job, reputation, and future in its hands.
With that said, next would be how it all falls on Pelicans star Anthony Davis. If New Orleans botches the Cousins ordeal, Davis will have lost the best talent he has ever been paired with along with the probable termination of his general manager. In addition, the helm is already hot, and in this scenario Alvin Gentry might not be far behind Demps. The Celtics roster has improved after the addition of Kyrie Irving, and those Boston rumors will not be silenced anytime soon. Davis might finally see the incapacity for success with the Pelicans and ask for his way out. Once again, completely hypothetical but not farfetched.
If not apparent enough, this all could come from the individual play of one DeMarcus Cousins. Many, including myself, believe he and Davis can easily continue to coexist and have been surrounded by a capable roster. Translating that to wins and achieving a playoff berth is a different story. If New Orleans can get past the deadline with Cousins and show him a taste of playoff basketball, their chance of retaining arguably the best center in the league will greatly increase.
DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans are in your hands.
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