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2018 NBA Free Agency: Detailing how the New Orleans Pelicans should handle DeMarcus Cousins

Shouldn’t let him walk but can’t hamstring the future of the franchise?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Should the New Orleans Pelicans re-sign DeMarcus Cousins in the 2018 free agent market, and if so, what should be the maximum terms of his next contract (years + $$$ per season)?

Jason: Yes

I absolutely believe that New Orleans should re-sign DeMarcus Cousins, and they should be offering a five year near max deal. I understand the risk of getting locked into a bloated contract for a guy coming off a torn Achilles. However, Cousins’ game has never depended as much on athleticism as other players. I think DMC might not be the same player as he was (MVP-caliber), but he will still be an elite big with various enticing skills.

Kevin: Yes

They should definitely sign Cousins. Boogie is the key to building a consistent winner with either his play or the return he fetches in either a sign-and-trade or mid-season trade. I still love the idea of pairing him with Anthony Davis, but if the staff feels more comfortable turning him into a wing and other parts to run a faster offense and more versatile defense, then I’m going to trust Dell Demps.

Jamile: Maybe

I’ll give you the official answer of consultants worldwide: it depends. As much as I love Boogie Cousins, the thought of giving a big man coming off an Achilles tear an enormous contract sounds worse and worse the more I think about it. The list of players that returned to form after this injury is painfully small and a bad max contract has the potential to cripple the team.

That being said, there is also upside in bringing Cousins back. His game was always more skill than athleticism so it’s possible he finds ways to remain effective. The Pelicans can’t just scoff at a player of Boogie’s caliber so I definitely think they’ll make him an offer — but it has to be the right price. It’s reasonable to think that next season Cousins may not be able to play a full compliment of minutes. It’s nobodies fault, but that simply has to be factored into the contract.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In the past I’ve criticized Dell Demps for negotiating against himself in the deals for Omer Asik and Solomon Hill. There simply weren’t teams kicking down these guy’s doors, yet Demps gave them massive contracts that cost the team a good deal of flexibility. Perhaps he has learned his lesson and will only pay DeMarcus Cousins what the market bears. It’s just hard to see many teams making big offers to Boogie. Young teams aren’t going to be interested, middling teams may not feel great about spending that much on an injured player, and most contenders won’t have the cap space. I think Cousins ultimately accepts a two year deal with a player option for a third season at near max dollars. That just feels like the right level of compromise for both sides.

Preston: Yes

It feels as if the writing is already on the wall for the Pelicans’ two-headed frontcourt, but that’s a shame — Cousins remains valuable to New Orleans future plans.

Boogie has been silent on social media in support of the team for some time, forewent an appearance during the Pelicans critical series against the Golden State Warriors, and even his own teammates have lacked the enthusiasm that they gave to Jrue Holiday just last season when his free agency loomed. It’s difficult to forget the quotes by Anthony Davis just last year when offering to buy a house for Holiday. No such promises have been made to Boogie.

When prodded as to Cousins’ future, Dell Demps described the requirement of a “perfect world” while referencing the potential re-signing of the All-Star this summer. While the Pelicans’ greatest ceiling involves both All-Star starting big men, it seems inevitable that the Pelicans are content to move on from the troubled center and his torn Achilles. My best guess would involve a 1 + 1, which will not satisfy Boogie and his team following what could be a career-defining injury.

David: Yes

New Orleans should look to bring back DeMarcus Cousins, but if the Pelicans are going to re-sign him, I expect it is going to cost them the max, or very near it. I understand the appeal of getting him for fewer years or less money. That would be great, for the Pelicans, but I don’t think Cousins is going to bite on that.

Now, the injury and everything else surrounding Boogie might mean he ends up taking less than his max, and three years or fewer. But if that’s the case, I don’t expect he’s coming back here. I don’t expect a man who wears “Loyalty” on all his stuff to take kindly to the Pelicans low balling him. It’s about more than dollars, it’s about a sense of respect, and if the Pelicans try to drive a hard bargain, I do not anticipate it will be received very well.

Oleh: Maybe

On the one hand, Cousins is irreplaceable from both an economic and talent standpoint, so if the Pelicans wind up losing him in free agency, they won’t be able to replace him on the roster. Not even remotely. Now, whether New Orleans chooses to flip him for other assets is an entirely different debate, but the fact remains that New Orleans isn’t slated to have the requisite cap space to add a new game-changer this summer — the most appealing avenue moving forward involves re-signing him.

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks

On the other, the negotiated upon contract details must be sensible and the priority. Davis and Holiday have proven they can propel the Pelicans high and far with complimentary pieces around them. Thus, it makes no logical sense for the franchise to mortgage too large of a chuck of the future on a player coming back from an injury where most other cases failed to find previous form. I desperately want to believe in a Dominique Wilkins-like return but too many thoughts center around Elton Brand.

On a personal level, I really, really hate this for Cousins. After witnessing how he was treated in Sacramento and then New Orleans was reportedly going to offer him a 5-year maximum before the injury struck, you hate seeing a gladiator get robbed. However, business decisions cannot be emotionally driven. The Pelicans should only be willing to re-sign Boogie to some prove-it deal — a contract that falls short of maximum dollars and totals two or three years in length.

Travis: Maybe

What a question. This is the most interesting question for this team, and not necessarily in a bad way — I think the Pelicans can still become a top 4 seed in the West without him if his production falls because of the Achilles injury.

If Cousins only wants a maximum deal, that’ll be hard to offer. If the Lakers or Cavaliers want to make that 4-year max offer, good for them, but buyer beware. I don’t want the Pelicans to turn him away with an offer he’d scoff at, but it’s gotta be hard for him to say no to anything reasonable with an injury this serious. Playing next to AD and Rajon Rondo might also keep him here. But, hey, when you’re unfollowing your employer on instagram, his head must be in other places.

In 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals were going to be unwilling to offer Albert Pujols a massive deal because of his age, bad feet and slight decline in production. That ended up being a tremendous move for the future of their franchise... and that was after winning a World Series title!