When the New Orleans Pelicans acquired superstar big-man DeMarcus Cousins at the All-Star break the NBA world was stunned. Fans were quick to label the Sacramento Kings as a dumpster-fire and praised the Pelicans for robbing them blind. However, just because the Pelicans acquired Cousins does not guarantee that they will be able to retain him. Cousins will be a free agent in 2018 which means the Pelicans’ need to give him a reason to stay in New Orleans. The Pelicans’ only have one season to show Cousins that they can establish themselves as one of the elite teams in the league by consistently winning games. Cousins has never had any semblance of consistency throughout his career and he will certainly go looking for it when he becomes a free agent in 2018. The Pelicans better be careful because they could risk losing Cousins for nothing.
The Rent-a-Star Gamble
Many dominant big men throughout NBA history have been very temperamental and high-maintenance during their careers. Some names that come to mind are Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, and of course DeMarcus Cousins. In 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in a deal that was as equally panned as this year’s Cousins deal. People thought that the Lakers would be a dominant super-team that year and that Howard would simply re-sign with the storied franchise that had a proven track record of winning championships. In a shocking turn of events the 2013 Lakers’ season was mired by horrible front office decisions and ultimately culminated in a first round sweep courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs. Howard would of course go on to take less money to join the Houston Rockets leaving the Lakers high and dry. The reason I share this story is because the same exact scenario could play out for the Pelicans. The Pelicans need to monitor their situation properly and make sure they deal Cousins if he is not meshing well with their current roster. Otherwise they risk being left with absolutely nothing.
Ultimately the Pelicans play in the brutal Western Conference and have an extremely thin roster outside of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. The Pelicans don’t exactly have a track record of making genius front office decisions or being a destination for free agents either. I believe that the Pelicans’ hopes of keeping Cousins long-term hinge on whether they can make the playoffs next season. Though that seems like a low bar to set making the playoffs in the west is incredibly difficult. Even if the Pelicans did make the playoffs there is a high chance that they would get eliminated in the first round. When it is all said and done Cousins will certainly entertain the many suitors he is sure to have next summer. I have a feeling that the Washington Wizards will emerge as the biggest threat to sign Cousins. The Wizards are an excellent young team with solid depth not to mention they have All-Star point guard John Wall who has a very close relationship with Cousins. Regardless of where Cousins ends up I believe he has earned the right to choose where he wants to play due to the unstable environments he has been subjected to.
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