On January 27, the Pelicans were 27-21 and had won seven-of-eight (including just beating the Houston Rockets), and they were solidly in as the six seed in the West. They looked like a solid playoff team in the West, and with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins they were going to be a tough matchup in the first round.
Jan. 27 was also the day it became official that Cousins had torn his Achilles and was done for the season.
It leads to a lot of “what ifs” in New Orleans. During All-Star weekend ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Anthony Davis about that and he was more optimistic than most.
“We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went,” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview over All-Star weekend.
“[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: ‘You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.'”
Two quick thoughts here. First, no the Pelicans were not contenders. Second, I want Davis to think like this, to say this if I’m a Pelicans fan or in Pelicans management. The best players always think they can find a way to win.
The big question around the Pelicans now is how the Cousins injury impacts the future of GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry. Those two were under a mandate to make the playoffs or a housecleaning was coming, and they were clearing that bar before a catastrophic injury. Are they both back now? Neither? There are rumors out of the Big Easy they are leaning toward keeping Demps but dumping Gentry, however, it’s still unclear.
Also unclear, how much do the Pelicans re-sign Cousins for (they will) and for how many years? It’s going to be a hot summer in New Orleans one way or another.