DeMarcus Cousins signing a five-year, $209 million contract extension?
That’s out the window with his trade from the Kings to the Pelicans rendering him ineligible to become a designated veteran player.
Which could explain why Cousins’ agent, Jarrinn Akana, was making noise about not re-signing with another team. Dissuading potential suitors and staying in Sacramento was Cousins’ only path to the biggest payday.
Here’s Akana, before the trade was set, via Marc Stein of ESPN:
A straight contract extension next summer makes no sense. The most that could pay Cousins is $92,559,167 over four years ($23,139,792 annually).
If he simply lets his contract expire and re-signs in 2018, a new deal projects to be worth about $179 million (about $36 million annually).
The Pelicans can try for a renegotiation-and-extension, but they would need cap room to raise his 2017-18 salary from $18,063,850 toward his projected max of about $31 million. With significant money due to Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Omer Asik, E'Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, Tim Frazier, Cheick Diallo and, they hope, a re-signed Jrue Holiday, it’s unlikely the Pelicans clear enough room to renegotiate Cousins’ deal.
Cousins is probably headed toward unrestricted free agency in 2018. Then, New Orleans projects to be able to offer about $179 million (about $36 million annually) to another team’s projected max of about $133 million (about $33 million annually).
It’s an advantage, but not a bulletproof one. I think Cousins will be more amenable to re-signing than his agent indicated now that a trade is actually happening, but he could still walk.