New Orleans Pelicans: Does a DeMarcus Cousins reunion make sense?

DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans: Examining where DeMarcus Cousins fits

There is probably a spot for DeMarcus Cousins in New Orleans, although he would have to be comfortable playing roughly the same minutes as in Houston.

Like I’ve written before, the New Orleans Pelicans’ frontcourt depth is shoddy, to say the least. Steven Adams has been a better addition than many imagined, but the consistency of his strong performances during the earliest stretches of the season has waned.

Willy Hernangómez crafted a spot for himself in the rotation and did well when Adams sat out a couple of games due to injury. However, his role is under question after not featuring at all in the Pelicans’ last game. It doesn’t seem like Stan Van Gundy is at ease playing the Spanish big against fast, mobile teams who can target him in pick-and-rolls.

Jaxson Hayes experienced a mini resurgence of sorts in the week before the all-star break. He almost single-handedly led the Pelicans to a comeback over the Chicago Bulls and then ate Hernangómez’s minutes against the Miami Heat. Hayes’ performances have wildly fluctuated, though, and it’s hard to forget how much he struggled early in the season when he was the sole big coming off the bench.

Nicolò Melli is having a season to forget for the New Orleans Pelicans. The Italian mostly plays at the 4 and, theoretically, should be a stretch big to complement either Adams or Zion Williamson. In practice, Melli is shooting 21 percent from three and is unplayable on defense. If Melli can’t make his shots—he’s made one of his last 11 attempted threes—then he shouldn’t see the floor at all.

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That’s where Cousins could come in. Under his current form, he probably isn’t a significant upgrade on Hernangómez besides some dashes of perimeter shooting. Cousins would suffer in ball screens, just like his Iberian counterpart, and Hernangómez seems to be a popular locker room presence.

However, I do think it’s worth noting that Hernangómez is an unrestricted free agent this summer. At 26 and off the back of a good season after barely playing last year, he should be seeking the most favorable deal that an NBA team will offer him. Keep in mind that it is in the Pels’ best interests to maintain as much financial flexibility as possible, as well. A deal with Hernangómez might not be straightforward.

Cousins, on the other hand, is not in a position to demand much money. He’s the one that needs to prove his worth to NBA teams now, not the other way around as was the case when he left an arguably toxic organization in Sacramento.

It is also true that this season should be considered a glorified tune-up for Cousins after several important injuries. It’s unreasonable to expect him to return to his previous level, but it’s also unreasonable for him to look anything close to good 25 games after what has essentially been an intermittent three-year layoff.

Cousins could be a serviceable bench big for the Pels. Stan Van Gundy likes playmakers on the floor, which is something Boogie would definitely add no matter his physical limitations. His perimeter shooting would mesh nicely with Williamson and add a dimension to the Pels’ offense that they haven’t had so far this season.

Cousins averaged 14 points and nine rebounds on 41 percent three-point shooting in his last four games before being waived by the Rockets. He was gradually looking better.

If the New Orleans Pelicans think that they can get anything out of Cousins this year and maybe even looking towards next season, then I think New Orleans should make the necessary roster moves and take a punt on a former all-star that has already proven his worth in the big easy.

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