Pelicans Favored in DeMarcus Cousins Free-Agent Derby

demarcus cousins

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 14, 2018 4:37 PM UTC

Monday, May. 14, 2018 4:37 PM UTC

One of the biggest targets available in NBA free agency this summer is New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins. Bovada offers a prop on his 2018-19 club.

Recently here at SBR, I took a look at the BetOnline options on where Oklahoma City forward Paul George would sign as a free agent this summer. The Lakers were -200 favorites, and that’s where I projected George would go.

The other big free-agent star available – again, I’m not including LeBron James because his future likely depends on how far the Cavs go in the playoffs and also not touching on guys like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul because they are surely going to re-sign with the Warriors and Rockets, respectively – is New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins is a Top 10 talent in the league when he’s focused and has his head on straight. Sometimes, he lets emotions get the better of him, but it’s not often you find a 27-year-old of his talent hit the market. Cousins was having his best season, averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists (over the past 50 seasons, only four players averaged at least those three numbers in a season and all four would win MVP) with the Pelicans before rupturing his left Achilles tendon in a Jan. 26 home game vs. Houston. Cousins was attempting to rebound his own missed free throw and went down without contact.

That injury is what makes committing monster money to Cousins tricky because that’s an even worse injury than a torn ACL. The Pelicans surely want him back, but they actually played better late in the season without Cousins, including sweeping Portland in the first round of the playoffs before running into Golden State.

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Bovada offers a prop on Cousins’ team for the first game of the 2018-19 season and the Pelicans are -200 with any other club at +150. New Orleans could offer him a five-year contract worth $175 million compared to four years and $130 million by any other team. There’s always the off chance the Pels sign him to that big number in order to trade Cousins.

Only a handful of teams are expected to have enough cap space to make a max offer to Cousins. The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are widely considered the two leading contenders for him outside of returning to New Orleans. Again, though, you have to worry about that injury and the real possibility that Cousins doesn’t return to his All-Star level until perhaps the 2019-20 season – if he ever does. According to an ESPN report: “Players coming back from Achilles injuries see their production decline by about 8 percent compared to what we would project based on their past performance and age.”

The Lakers’ first targets would certainly be LeBron and George, but Cousins could be a fallback option if both don’t head to Hollywood. I have little doubt the Mavericks offer Cousins the max, but does he want to go to a losing team after finally escaping Sacramento? There could be a wild-card team in the chase for Cousins like the Phoenix Suns, but they are a bit of a mess.

I believe the Pelicans do bring Cousins back, even if it’s perhaps at a slightly shorter deal to protect themselves. That would make Anthony Davis happy – he doesn’t like playing center – and the franchise must do everything in its power to keep the Brow happy or risk losing him as a free agent following the 2020-21 season. Teams can sign free agents starting July 6.

Free NBA Pick: PelicansBest Line Offered: Bovada
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