A lot of dominos fell as soon as the free agency horn sounded — Paul George, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and a number of key role players — but DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo remain on the market.
New Orleans Pelicans All-Star free agent center DeMarcus Cousins received calls from the Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers tonight once free agency began and is expected to have meetings scheduled with both teams soon, a source told ESPN's The Undefeated.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 1, 2018
Cousins being linked to the Lakers has gained steam in recent days, with some like former Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin believing that Boogie + another big free agent will likely wind up in Los Angeles. Others, like Brian Windhorst, have a hard time believing the Lakers would be interested in adding a player coming off an Achilles injury who is expected to take most, if not all, of next season in regaining his All-NBA form. Does LeBron James, who is highly probable to sign with the Lakers, want to hitch his wagon to a player who may never return to 100% health — or will at least be severely limited throughout the 2018-19 campaign?
As far as Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans did not immediately contact him at the start of free agency.
The @PelicansNBA made their contact with DeMarcus Cousins, as expected. Anthony Davis is said to want to have him back. Did not immediately contact Rajon Rondo, whom AD also wants back. But that's likely to come.— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) July 1, 2018
However, expect Rajon to remain a priority as Anthony Davis has vouched for his point guard numerous times and General Manager Dell Demps seemed to make his intentions clear during the Pelicans season-ending presser.
“Oh, we definitely want him back. You know, I actually talked to him last night a little bit and his leadership, you know, he’s been there. I think the guys looked to him in those situations like, ‘Hey, how do we react in this type of situation?’ But then at the same time, they embrace that challenge. I think he embraced the look the guys gave him. I think he found a place where he felt his need wasn’t always on the court. You know, there were some games this year where we took him out the game and the team started playing well and you know Alvin was going to put him back in and he’s like, ‘No, no, no. Leave me out. The guys are doing well without me.’ And you see him on the sideline, not sitting over there pouting or feeling sorry for himself…he was over there coaching and rallying guys and talking to Ian (Clark). That was leadership for him and he was very selfless with us this year.”
The biggest surprise during the first few hours of free agency certainly had to be the news of the Pelicans being linked to Tyreke Evans.
New Orleans GM Dell Demps has asked current players to reach out to free agent Tyreke Evans about returning to the Pelicans, according to a source.— John Martin (@JohnMartin929) July 1, 2018
There were rumors before the last trade deadline that New Orleans was one of seven teams interested in trading for Evans from the Grizzlies, but reportedly no suitors met Memphis’ demands and thus he was retained.
If this latest report is true, Evans makes for a mildly puzzling target. Tyreke is known for dictating the offense — the antithesis of the system installed by Alvin Gentry and Chris Finch. Then again, critics had the same concerns about Rondo upon arriving in New Orleans, but he silenced them with his play down the stretch of last season as he led the Pelicans to the Western Conference semifinals for just the second time in their 16-year history.