Pelicans Scoop: DeMarcus Cousins Edition

Published: February 27, 2017

The dust has settled a bit from the trade that shook up the NBA. Now that DeMarcus Cousins (and Omri Casspi) are in, and Langstong Galloway, Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, and a future 2017 first and secound round pick are gone, our writers give you their thoughts on the deal.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Tell us the story of how you found out DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the Pelicans?

Jake Madison: I stayed up to watch the (pretty boring) All-Star Game. After, and in bed, I checked Twitter to see the reaction was to Anthony Davis winning the MVP. All of a sudden tweets start rolling in about a potential deal. I basically dismissed it assuming, like everyone else, that the Pelicans didn’t have the assets to bring in Cousins. When I saw the tweet about the deal being agreed to, I kinda yelled, woke my girlfriend up, and ended up going to sleep around 3 am after recording an emergency edition of Locked on Pelicans.

Nick Lewellen: I sometimes go to bed early. I went to bed at around 10:30 on Sunday night. From what I can remember, the ESPN alert wasn’t sent to my phone until about 15 minutes later. So when my dog woke me up at 5:30 A.M. I rolled over and saw that beautiful notification. My first thought was, “Yes, but I’m really going to miss Jrue.” I can’t begin to describe the joy I felt when I realized we gave up a protected 1st, Buddy and Tyreke… Oh and the Ish Smith 2nd.

Michael Pellissier: I was dropping my girlfriend off at her house after a date and I checked Twitter for a second and saw rumors of the Pelicans’ interest in Cousins. Friends started texting, and needless to say, the rest of the night, I was compulsively refreshing Twitter to see what would happen. I’m still stunned that it happened.

Chris Trew: Holy moley, what a story. I documented the whole thing right here and I’d appreciate your quick read and then make sure you come back to finish this Pelicans Scoop because it’s a doozy..

Jason Calmes: I was on the couch about 6CT, and a fellow mathematician wrote me saying that’d no longer be a fan if they got Boogie. I told him the Kings probably wouldn’t do it, Paul George would be good, but maybe with bigs on the move, we could get Valanciunas. I knew there were exploratory talks weeks and weeks ago, but they were not substantive, and I chalked up the reporting to that stuff finally getting some confirmation. As it starting coming from sources that are more Pelicans-reliable, I just stayed more and more glued to the news, then, wham-o. My friend said he took down the Pelicans stuff in his office. I told him to simmer down. Don’t worry, I’ll get him back into the fold. Or, alley-oops will.


Are the attitude issues a concern for you regarding DeMarcus Cousins?

JM: Maybe a bit? I figure he will be on his best behavior the rest of the season. Next season if the team isn’t winning may be different, though. But at the same time? So what? Look at all the teams close to a potential trade for Cousins: they were all bad teams. The Pelicans had to take a gamble and roll the dice here. And they did it without giving up a warchest of assets. Even if he has attitude issues, the team will deal with it.

NL: No. If we’re being honest, most of us spend our late teens and early twenties as an insufferable  turd person. Still, I’ll admit that DeMarcus’ behavior can be erratic and destructive. There are a lot of historical examples of those types of young, brash guys finding their way in the NBA as they were moved to better organizations and started winning (Zach Randolph, Rasheed Wallace, etc). That’s what you have to hope for with Boogie.

MP: Yes and no. The incessant complaining to the refs is something I can deal with. I mentioned this in my article, but without the attitude issues, we never would’ve gotten someone of Cousins’ talent. What does frustrate me is when he pouts after he doesn’t get a call instead of running back on defense. This is hardly unique to Cousins among NBA stars, but it isn’t helping his teammates. Save the complaining for when the ball is dead and I’m a much happier fan. In any case, I think Cousins cares, a lot, about winning, and that passion is a double-edged sword. His talent is absolutely worth the risk.

CT: No – I think DeMarcus will thrive in New Orleans. I think New Orleans will look so good on Boogie. Honestly can’t wait for all the “guess he only needed a change of scenery” pieces that’ll fill out feeds in a month.

42: Everything is a concern for me. Life is the primary cause of death if you want to look at it that way. I think Cousins has some habits to change, but I’m not really concerned that he’s just a bad egg. We’ve needed a passionate guy, and I’ll take the good and the bad that comes with that in general and with Cousins. What I’m more concerned with, though concern isn’t le mot juste, is that he will have to adjust to not being IT on his team. Not all great talents are constituted not to be the greatest talent around. We have little data on this. I said the other day at lunch, that I’d prefer him to be at the 17-20 tech per season range. Yeah, he’ll miss some games, but not too many, and it means we’re maxing out that passion under those constraints and showing the others teams that this dude means business.


There were rumors the Pelicans were inquired about Jimmy Butler and Paul George. Out of everyone is Cousins the best fit for the Pelicans?

JM: Personally, I think so. I’ve spoken on the podcast that AD’s unique skill set makes it hard to find an ideal big to pair with him. However, Cousins fits that bill. While there have been some early struggles, the game against OKC shows you that a team can thrive with these two players. And while Butler and George would have been great additions, neither are a center that the team wanted to put next to Davis. This is an excellent fit.

NL: I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does either. Hypothetical “fit” is one of those things we talk about in the abstract without any real data. It’s a fun bar argument, but it’s not productive. On the other hand, if you’re going all in on something, I think taking a hard left away from the league’s current conventional wisdom (i.e. playing small), and see if you can build a comparative advantage against everyone trying to impersonate Golden State. That’s an exciting potential fit to me.

MP: I think George and Butler are easier to “fit” on a roster, but I actually think Cousins is the best fit for the NBA’s current landscape. I think Nick nailed it with zagging when everyone else is zigging. We aren’t finding 3 perimeter players who can shoot/score like Steph, Klay, and Durant or defend every position like Draymond. The league is going smaller and the only way to beat that, without getting the best small players, is to be so good at being big that other teams have to adjust; without an elite center, that is hard to do. The Fire and Ice combo gives us that ability, and Jrue is one of only a handful of guards that can defend positions 1-3 and fill in whatever gaps a team has. This is, on paper, a very exciting 3 man foundation to me.

CT: You know the fable about the dog who saw his reflection in the water? And the bone in his mouth appeared bigger in his reflection so he dropped it and ended up with neither? That dog ain’t me.

42: I’m not reading the other guys’ responses, but I know the echo chamber says “not Cousins.” I disagree. Davis is the measure of all things Pelican. Cousins brings that bigger physical presence Davis wanted, the massive talent Davis needed, and the attitude Davis simply lacks. He’s also a NAME, and that makes a big difference to the organization and the casual fan. Given their assets and their position in the game, this was the move, and it’s a better move than anyone had any reason to suspect was available.


Try to explain why this move was important for the franchise.

JM: All of a sudden, in a football focused state and city, the Pelicans are at the forefront. People are interested again, ticket offices have phones ringing, and fans are not ready to revolt right now. And that’s not even mentioning the product and talent level on the court. This team was looking like a Kevin Garnet/Minnesota situation. And they looked like there was no real way to contention or anything better than the 8th seed. Now, in one night and with one move, the script is flipped.

NL: Right now, it’s hard to overstate its importance. That seems hyperbolic, but going into the All-Star break it felt like the Pels were floundering, right? We are headed to a losing record, but we were also fighting for the 8th seed. There just wasn’t a lot to be excited about. I remember after the All-Star game thinking it was pathetic to celebrate an All-Star game MVP that much, but it was going to be the biggest story of our season. Not anymore. The Pels have, for likely the first time ever, enough talent at the top of their roster to win a championship. That doesn’t mean they will or that they even can, but this is the first time the potential even exists.

MP: We weren’t getting a star in free agency and the draft is a crapshoot if you’re outside of the top 5; even then, the ones who pan out aren’t elite contributors for several years, which doesn’t fit with Davis’s timeline. This was a rabbit out of a hat, partially due to Dell’s diligence, and partially due to the Kings being an inept franchise. Getting someone who can score 30 points a night is almost impossible without a king’s ransom, and we got Cousins for pennies on the dollar. I can’t help but think that this also gives us a better chance of keeping Jrue this summer, albeit it at what should be a very high price. We were looking for a center. We were looking for scoring. We were looking to make the playoffs. We were looking to keep Davis happy. We were looking to get the fanbase excited. There were a lot of birds killed with this stone.

CT: The NBA community was reminded how much they love New Orleans over All-Star Weekend. We brought it back to the bottom of the map and now that flag planted a couple of years ago by Tom Benson and company has two faces on it. New Orleans is the talk of the league. Imagine what happens when we still game 1 of the playoffs against the Warriors.

42: This move gives life to the product on the court, it’s a total NBA-zag, dispells some myths, and goes a long way to keeping Davis here for that next contract. The talent injection is clear, but it will take a little bit to add some Boogie to their dance. The NBA is going with clusters of talent, and clusters of wing talent have had the most success. The Grizzlies have not won a title, but they have had success. Clustering their talent in the front court is a zag, and I’m fine with it. Davis and Cousins are not Gasol and Randolph, either, so, we’ll see. The Pelicans, if nothing else, are drawing attention to the organization, trying to draw in fans, staff, and players by adding some shine to the franchise and pulling in enough talent to have a natural gravitational pull around the NBA. This is the move that keeps on moving.


Alright, on whatever scale you want, grade this trade for the Pelicans.

JM: Considering the Pelicans only gave up Buddy and a first round pick (top 3 protected!) this is like Micheal Jordon extending his arm to score the winning points for the Tune Squad in Space Jam.

NL: I grade it alchemy. Dell took pieces of lead and bronze and turned it to straight gold with Boogie. It remains to be seen how that grade holds up in the long run, but for now, I couldn’t be more excited.

MP: A+. We didn’t give up anything past 2017 except Buddy’s cost-controlled rookie contract and a decent player in Galloway.. and we got a top 10 NBA player + a serviceable wing in Casspi. I don’t believe in revisionist history, so even if this trade doesn’t work out, it was 100% the right risk and the front office should be applauded for it.

CT: In honor of Boogie completely obliterating his introductory press conference with charm, jokes, and self-awareness, I’m grading this trade 17 out of 10. I’m grading this trade Fire on a scale of 1 to Ice and Ice on a scale of 1 to Fire. I’m grading this trade holy sh*t what just happened

JC: There is no grade, and since I’m the only person here that’s assigned any grades at all, and I’ve probably over 1,000 no matter how you parse it, way more on the assignment level, I’ll stand by my claim. This changed everything. It’s going directly to grad school, collecting a degree. They are now a horrible great team, not a bad average team. This is a shift. This is going from chicken salad to anything without mayonnaise. This is alchemy. This what the people on Star Trek watch on TV about the future. This is the action figure Chuck Norris plays with and go, “Pow pow pow.” Is it perfect? No. It has, however, fundamentally shifted the fabric of everything Pelicans.

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