But it’s easy to see how the team around him could crumble.
DeMarcus Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, and before New Orleans dealt for him, his agent threatened he wouldn’t re-sign with any team that traded for him. The Pelicans just committed at least $126 million to Jrue Holiday, who has an extensive injury history. The rest of the supporting cast is lacking, and with so much money tied to dead weight (Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca) and underwhelming players (Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore), it’ll be hard to upgrade.
The vultures are swarming.
In addition, rival executives expect Boston to be keeping close tabs on New Orleans, which is entering a critical season. The Pelicans are committed to seeing if an Anthony Davis-DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt can work, but if the season goes awry, it’s widely believed the Celtics will make a strong run at Davis, who is under contract through 2020.
Do these rival executives know something about Boston’s plan, or are they just supposing from afar? The Celtics are so asset-rich, they’ll be connected to any star who plausibly becomes available. It doesn’t take inside information to predict that.
But a pursuit of Davis might not get off the ground. If he makes an All-NBA team this season or next, he’d be eligible for a designated-veteran-player extension that only the Pelicans can offer. That might keep him in New Orleans for the next seven years.
On the other hand, if the Pelicans fall to the point Davis rejects the super-max extension, that’d be a huge flashing warning sign. Many teams would try to poach the star, and you can bet the Celtics will come up frequently in rumors.