The DeMarcus Cousins era did not get off to the best start in New Orleans last night, as the Pelicans were blown out by the Rockets 129-99. No need to panic in New Orleans, though, because the Pelicans still have plenty of time to figure out how Anthony Davis and Cousins can fit together, and if even they can’t, they aren’t in line to lose much skin.
Cousins was great last night. He finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals, and four blocks and generally looked like the best big man in the league. Davis was less impressive, scoring 29 on 8-of-21 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds. The Davis-Cousins pairing was far from the Pelicans’ biggest problem in this game—the Pels were just -2 while the two were on the floor together—and the loss is mostly owed to bad defense and an avalanche of turnovers.
Both Cousins and Davis were optimistic after the game. “Coach even said it before the game: There’s going to be times where we’re going to look great offensively and [times when] it’s going to look like complete shit, which it did. It’s just going to be a matter of time. It’s not going to happen overnight. We have a lot of work to do,” said Cousins.
“We’ll be fine,” added Davis.
Cousins and Davis are both so talented, and possess such multifaceted games, that it’s hard to imagine them not finding a way to harmonize before the end of this season. These aren’t two big, plodding, one-dimensional centers trying to find a way to occupy the same sliver of space on the court. They are two fantastic, incredibly versatile basketball players who just happen to be huge.
Even if the experiment doesn’t work, and the whole thing blows up in the Pelicans’ faces, so what? You may have forgotten this, but the Pelicans got Cousins for a hamper full of dirty laundry. The worst-case scenario is that Cousins makes the team just a little bit worse, and they end up missing the playoffs and surrendering a first-round pick somewhere in the top 10. And don’t forget that the pick they sent to Sacramento is top-three protected, so even if Cousins makes them a lot worse, or if the lottery ping-pong balls do something screwy, New Orleans is still sitting pretty.
Beyond that, there would be nothing preventing the Pelicans from flipping Cousins to another team this summer if they decide that the partnership with Davis just absolutely will not work. A failed half season in New Orleans would certainly depress Cousins’s value a little bit, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Pelicans ended up getting more than they gave up for him in this scenario.
(The only one who is really getting screwed here, aside from hopeless Kings fans, is Cousins. He lost out on a shot at an extra $30 million dollars when the bum-ass Kings decided to trade him.)
All of this is to say, Pelicans fans should be feeling very relaxed today. Your team gave up Buddy Hield and at worst the No. 4 pick in the draft for a chance to pair up two of the most dominant big men in the league, and still have the chance to bring in a decent trade haul of their own if that experiment fails. Everyone in New Orleans should say a prayer for Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadivé tonight.