I’ll Die on Boogie Hill

Published: March 24, 2017

The New Orleans Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins in a trade, and now I’ve had some time to think about it. There’s been a good deal of flap about the trade just because of its nature, but the team’s up-and-down record since then along with how much Cousins played in those wins has added flappiness to the flap. Writers and fans who either lack the ability to think below their surface impressions or think that their readers and cohorts are that way feed into the idea, seeking attention rather than accuracy, that adding quality players are supposed to immediately yield positive results. This lack of immediate satisfaction (if wins would actually satisfy these bottom-feeders)

I don’t care. There are absolute things to work out and legitimate concerns about the future of the Davis-Cousins pairing in today’s NBA, but most of that stuff is opportunistic nonsense, in my opinion. Even if they end up being right, the number of people who can judge that effectively is quite small, and certainly much smaller than the echo chamber makes it seem. I’m no expert on Cousins, to be sure, but I know enough to get behind the pairing. The idea that the Pelicans would be looking for a wing was an obvious one, and I’m sure accurate, but the problem would be all the other suitors. I’ve been on record saying this, and coming up empty when wondering just who they would try to get.

Instead, it seemed going for a big would be a zag sort of move. Memphis had success, though no title, with a pairing of quality big men, for instance, but most of the teams were eschewing loading up on such players. So, the Pelicans going after a big man fit with their modus operandi of seeking out inefficiencies, for good or bad.

Call it robbery, but there were no better offers.

Call it luck, but “chance favors only the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur)

Call it desperation, but who isn’t looking to upgrade?

No one could predict this move, and certainly not too many teams were looking to pay what the Pelicans were paying to upgrade via Cousins, but I’m totally fine with the deal. In the interest of full disclosure, I was thinking that Jonas Valanciunas would be a solid target (and I’ve been on record on that point), but I’m more than pleased with Cousins. I’d simply written off the possibility of New Orleans landing him. I had the exact same experience with Holiday. Pleasant surprises.

An all-around big man talent, bringing defense, rebounding, and. most importantly today, offense to the table is going to be a big help. His passing is probably the most underrated of his gifts. Gentry’s system thrives on passing. Once Davis and Cousins can work together with good passing between them, the minutes they get together will be a nightmare for a team that can’t reliably deny initial passes to them. Since both can handle the ball ok, these don’t have to be post entry passes, either.

Well, if it’s so great, why are they losing, etc.?

Thanks for the question. Cousins was a seismic change to the team, as I said night one. The process (of showcasing Davis) has clearly been paying dividends, but it causes problems of relying too much of Davis and creating pecking-order and other leadership problems on the team. This is one reason the team looks disjointed on offense. That reason is one reason Jrue is having difficulty. Adding Cousins makes it that much more complicated, especially on Jrue, as Jake has noted a number of times. The team also lost a capable defender and shooter in Galloway, and this did not help. Losing Hield exhausted what generously would have been called depth, then Casspi’s injury just made the situation absurd. Again. Still, this trade is a game changer, and for the better.

The last benefit I want to highlight (there are others) is adding a guy with some real passion to the team. Not only is it real, it’s visible. One can argue, perhaps correctly, that he’s too visible and too transparent with it all, but I’ll take it. I’ll take 18-20 techs a season without blinking. I know that’s over the “limit,” but I’m fine sending the message to the rest of the League that the passion is that important. The team needs it, and I’ll take it.

I’m clearly not the only one willing to die on Boogie Hill. Demps is. Some may genuinely believe that’s an anti-endorsement, and that is fine. I’m in the business of describing the team, not pseudo-moralizing about what teams should be doing when I’m not in possession of anywhere near enough information about alternative courses of action to make an assessment, much less to launch into a job evaluation. I’ll leave that to lesser writers and the aforementioned attention-seekers.

The organization has to do everything in its power to add something immediately to this core of Davis, Cousins, and Holiday (complain as you will, I’ve told you for years that Holiday is part of the core unless they bring in a clear upgrade immediately, and there aren’t many they can get) so they can come out swinging. They can’t waste time. The pressure is on.

If that fails, I expect some sweeping changes to staff, because I believe in this core as capable of producing a fun, quality product, playoff runs, and some dominating wins for years. Titles . . . we’ll see what dreams may come.