On February 19th the Pelicans and the Kings agreed to a trade which shook the NBA landscape and is set to change the future of both franchises involved. The trade sent Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2 picks in next year’s draft. Yes, you did read that right… The Pelicans acquired Demarcus Cousins, arguably the best center in the league, for an underachieving rookie and a washing machine. A trade so seemingly lopsided that it wasn’t even possible in a video game.
As a long-time Pels fan, when I first saw the rumoured deal was in fact officially completed, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. In one second, our future went from being dim to being brighter than Odell Beckham’s hair. We now finally had a superstar to pair with Anthony Davis and make a push for a playoff berth.
When Cousins arrived in New Orleans he labelled himself and Anthony Davis “Fire and Ice”. So far this nickname has been on point on multiple counts, both good and bad. Although 1 month isn’t a fair time frame to truly gauge as to whether the Pels made the right move in this trade, let’s get our first look at the post-trade Pels.
Cold start: The Pels started out very cold after the trade, losing 3 straight by an average of 17 points. Ouch. Not the start we were hoping for but it’s natural that with all of the roster changes and new personnel that there would be some growing pains.
Demarcus living up to his reputation: Despite the lopsided nature of the trade on paper, many writers, sources and representatives within the Kings organization pointed to Cousins’ attitude issues and short temper as one of the biggest reasons the Kings cut ties with their superstar big man. Year after year Cousins had been on the wrong end of the press and the wrong end of technical fouls.
Just 3 games into his tenure with the Pels, the big man received his league leading 18th technical foul which lead to his suspension. The Pels would go on to win their first game since the trade with Cousins on the bench. The outbursts unfortunately don’t stop there, the first incident occurred against the Lakers in the Pels’ first win with Cousins in the line-up, a slip of the mouth which would eventually cost him a cool 50 Gs. The NBA’s swear jar isn’t cheap but it wasn’t expensive enough to shut his mouth for good though as the night after Cousins got into it again with some rowdy fans.
Cousins has a hell of an attitude, but we already knew that. I’ll take a sassy top 10 player any day and here’s why:
The refiner’s fire: It’s important to note that each loss during that period has come from a team with a better current win-loss record when compared with the Pels, with most of those losses coming against teams in the top 4 of each conference (Spurs, Rockets, Jazz and Raptors). The schedule hasn’t been easy. After getting through the initial growing pains, the Pels have won 5 of their last 6 games and now sit at an even 7-7 since the trade a month ago.
The hot hand: One of the biggest reasons for the Pels’ cold start had nothing to do with the combination of Cousins and Davis and largely to do with the lack of reliable perimeter shooting options around them. The Pels have seemingly found their solution in Jordan Crawford. The veteran shooting guard has come in to the team with no fear and has lit the nets of opposing teams, averaging 14 points per game off the bench while shooting 50% from the field in the 7 games he has suited up for the Pels. Oh and by the way 5 of those 7 games have been wins for the Pels, coincidence? I think not.
The statement: Demarcus Cousins had his best game as a member of the Pelicans today against Memphis in a convincing 95-82 win. Cousins had a game high 41 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to complete his dominating performance over another top 5 center in Marc Gasol. Cousins has truly arrived in New Orleans.
Again, we will probably need a couple of years to truly gauge as to whether the trade is a success, but for now the ice is melting and I’m enjoying the heat. What do you think? Was it the right move to trade for Cousins? Stay classy Pels’ fans.