Late Sunday night, the New Orleans Pelicans acquired All-Star forward DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for rookie shooting guard Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway (who will be waived), Tyreke Evans, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick. Below are five initial takeaways on the blockbuster deal.
- That’s it? Sacramento had been so hesitant to part with their All-Star big man, and then all of a sudden decided to deal him for a sub-par package centered around a 23-year-old rookie and a draft pick that will be in the latter portion of the lottery at best. The Pelicans should be charged with robbery. Nothing should surprise The Kings’ fans anymore. They lack stability as they are onto their fifth head coach since 2012, but this trade is downright befuddling.
- Assuming that is all it took to get Cousins, why were more teams not willing to offer more? Yes, he has the reputation of being hard to deal with (though this has been largely outgrown), but his talent is undeniable. For essentially a role player and a draft pick I would’ve thought more teams would be interested. The Celtics could have offered one of their Brooklyn picks and Jaylen Brown or Jae Crowder for Cousins. The Wizards could have offered Otto Porter Jr., Marcus Morris, and a draft pick. Either of those moves could have changed the balance of power in the East. The move that wasn’t made might be just as befuddling as the one that was.
- A Cousins/Anthony Davis front court duo will be lethal. Cousins and Davis both are very versatile big men. Both have the ability to score from the block while also stepping out beyond the arc. Offensively, there might not be two more talented big men in the game. Let’s take it a step further; perhaps, this is the best frontcourt the NBA has ever seen. That is not a hyperbole. The Pelicans now have two All-Star big men, both averaging over 27 points and 10 rebounds per contest. That is asinine. It will take time for The Brow (Davis) and Boogie (Cousins) to form some chemistry, but when they eventually do, the rest of the NBA better look out.
- Let the John Calipari to New Orleans rumors begin. Having coached both players at Kentucky, the chatter will be whether or not Calipari will have any interest in returning to the NBA to coach the Pelicans. He will come out and vehemently deny any and all reports, calling them “garbage,” but, deep down, he wants to coach in the NBA. He wants to coach a team of his former players. Why not take a job that features the two best big men in the NBA, who he also happened to coach in college, in a vibrant city like New Orleans? He could certainly attract other talent. His former players love him and would love the opportunity to play for him again. He could start up Kentucky 2.0 in New Orleans.
- How good does the addition of Demarcus Cousins make the New Orleans Pelicans? Currently 2.5 games back of the eighth seed and nine games back of the seventh seed, any serious upward mobility this season seems unlikely. However, if they can sneak into the eighth seed, a series with the Warriors could pose the most difficult possible first-round series for Golden State.
The remainder of this season should be viewed as a trial run. The time in which Davis and Cousins can experiment and try and figure out what works best while playing alongside one another. Next year they really need to hit the ground running. With the addition of the 26-year old Cousins to go along with Davis, who is just 23, the Pelicans could be a top-three team in the Western Conference for the better part of the next decade.
Having two behemoths in the front court, one would figure the Pelicans would instantly become a free-agent destination and a place where many across the league would love to play. With this trade, the Pelicans just became massively scarier and are radically changing the trajectory of their franchise—an organization that, just this past week, was given the title of lowest-valued team in the NBA by Forbes ($750 million). It’s funny how quickly things can change.