How the DeMarcus Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans was sealed by the city itself, and what it means in terms of playoff indications.
Just a week ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were entering the All-Star Break with a measly 23-34 record. That includes a 3% chance of grabbing a playoff spot. That alone would give most teams the impression “season over”. However for the Pelicans’, they made a decision to continue fighting.
Going into the All-Star Break, the Pelicans starting getting hot again. They did enter the All-Star Break winners in three of their last four games. Still, the long rest was a necessity for the Pelicans.
They spent the Rising Stars Game to celebrate their rookie, Buddy Hield. Star Anthony Davis did compete in the Skills Challenge and All-Star Game as well. What everyone did not know was that All Star Weekend 2017 will change everything for the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Friday night, Buddy Hield went out to test his talents against his Rookie of the Year companions in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. In the first half, Buddy established himself as a front-runner for the MVP award in front of his home crowd. Hield did score 28 points, but lost the MVP to Jamal Murray. Murray went off in the final eight minutes, to score a total of 36 points.
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New Orleans was still proud of their rookie, for showing he can compete among the rest. However, the most important factor of this game wasn’t the MVP.
The important factor became that Vlade Divac, General Manager of the Sacramento Kings found his way in attendance. This would come in handy on Sunday night, during the All-Star Game. That became the moment the Pelicans would prepare to send a trade offer to the Kings.
Saturday Night saw Ex-Pelican, Eric Gordon leave a sour taste behind for Pelicans’ fans. Gordon would take home the Three-Point Contest Trophy in Pelicans home territory. As the Saturday festivities and parades wrapped up, everyone in New Orleans prepped for Sunday night. The Main Event. The All-Star Game.
Prior to this whole weekend, the Pelicans were reportedly in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers for Jahlil Okafor. They were also in talks with the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez. Somewhere between these talks and All-Star Sunday, something hit the Pelicans front office. The franchise finally realized just how real the “Anthony Davis Doomsday Clock” really was.
It dawned upon them that the way they were trying to build a team around AD was not working. They needed to do something, with what they had to bring in another star. If they failed to do that, they would run the risk of Anthony leaving.
On Sunday, just a few hours before tip off, the Pelicans began talks with the Sacramento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins and the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.
At this point, the Pelicans head office made another realization. Although rookies are the key to building a youth team, the Pelicans did not have time to develop one. Thus, as crazy as the 2017 draft class was hyped to be, it did not seem to be necessary for the “here and now” Pelicans.
As talks progressed, the All-Star Game started. During the game, Anthony Davis began to shine on one of the NBA’s biggest stages. Anthony finished the game with 52 points, surpassing Dr. J’s record for most points in an All-Star Game. He demonstrated that he was going to be one of the next greats on the national stage.
But, he also demonstrated that he needed a friend of the same caliber.
During the weekend in and out of games, Anthony was enjoying himself and cracking jokes with his All-Star companions. From Buddy putting on a show in front of Vlade, to the epiphany of the Pelicans’ front office, to Anthony’s record breaking game and persona. Whatever it was, it all began to click. The Pelicans then prepped themselves to make a move that would change their franchise.
After the All-Star Game, it was announced that the Pelicans had traded for DeMarcus Cousins; sending off Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2 draft picks in return. At first, the trade seemed as if the Pelicans traded their entire team and future. However, it was quickly realized that a few role players and some draft picks were worth it. The Pelicans brought in an All-Star that was just three years older than the Pelicans’ prized rookie.
At the end of the night, most analysts across the board came to an agreement. The Pelicans had just made a huge and beneficial move. In fact, immediately after the trade, the same 23-34 Pelicans went from 3% odds to 18% odds to make the playoffs. Their new projected record came to of 36-45 (@numberFire).
After all, there were three players in the NBA as of the All-Star Break averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds. Two now play for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Through one trade, the Pelicans went from measly squad that was highly doubtful to make the playoffs, to what some are saying can be highly competitive in the Western playoffs. In fact, there are only three teams in between the Pelicans and that playoff spot. The New Orleans Pelicans just acquired the best player of the Trade Deadline. So how exactly did the Kings let this happen?
Vivek Ranadivé, the Kings owner, stated in a media conference on Monday that he thought “Buddy had Steph Curry Potential”.
That most likely came from Vlade and his own experience, watching Buddy play in the Rising Stars Challenge. This allowed the Pelicans to incorporate him into trade talks at a key time, to swing the Kings front office into the trade. It is just beautiful to think about how having the All-Star Game in the Big Easy set up a perfect melody of events (in a city iconic for music), to allow the Pelicans to swing a deal that brought their long-awaited second star.
The 2017 All-Star Game changed the direction of the Pelicans franchise and will forever be a memorable event in the franchise history. However, the Pelicans are still making moves.
Having traded away a plethora of guards they went out and signed Hollis Thompson, the fourth-year man from the 76ers. The Pelicans will have to worry about their other contractual issues, such as deal with Asik’s loaded contract. Even with that, they will attempt to reload on guards in the offseason. But for now, their key 2016 free agency additions in E’Twuan Moore and Solomon Hill will have to pick up the slack.
The Pelicans now stand tall in the West and look to make a run at the postseason. They will also look to convince Boogie to resign with the New Orleans Pelicans and further complete this star-studded roster.
Although, do not forget that Jrue Holiday has been playing at a very high level in his own right. as He will complete the New Orleans Pelicans’ “Big Three.” After a mediocre start to the year, there is definitely a lot to look forward to in the second half of the season, which is being called “The New Era”.
Yes, it will take some time for them to develop the chemistry and learn the offense. That was the main story of last night’s loss 129-99 to the Houston Rockets. However, once they settle down and start meshing, this three man combo can be competitive with the top dogs in the West.
The beautiful dance the Pelicans franchise and city of New Orleans had to play to receive the All-Star game and use it to its advantage will be a lasting memory for the city. Sure, if the All-Star Weekend was in Charlotte, it could have still been the same effect. But having both Buddy Hield and Anthony Davis shining in front of their own crowd added something extra. That may have lured two GM’s into a trade for the ages. In the end, it was the city of New Orleans that sealed the letter of this deal and as a reward; New Orleans will get to witness two of the best big men today embark on their climb to the playoffs.