An important question: Did those moves make New Orleans better? It’s a tough question. Cousins’ health is the biggest variable. Fit also matters. The Pelicans played well after Cousins got hurt with Nikola Mirotic as a midseason addition. It’s unclear how Randle will affect the frontcourt. Payton’s progression after four wayward years between Orlando and Phoenix will be essential in answering. So will Rondo’s regression.
Another important question: What does Anthony Davis – who will be eligible for a super-max contract extension next offseason – think of New Orleans’ summer moves?
Davis on ESPN, asked whether the Pelicans checked with him on their handling of Cousins:
They did. There’s a lot of different stories out there, but for me, there’s nothing we can do about it now. I just move forward and try to worry about the team that we have now. You can’t dwell on whether they should’ve came back or Rondo, whoever it is. You’ve just got to move forward with the team I have now and try to find a way to make the playoffs as well and make some noise. Of course it was tough, but at the same time, I’m past it. Like I said, there’s nothing we can do about it. The team kept me in the loop. Whatever happened on their end happened on both sides. And now we’re here. So, like I said, we just have to move forward and try to figure out how we can be successful with the team we’ve got now.
Davis has always been clear in his desire to win in New Orleans. I’m convinced that’s his preference.
But what if the Pelicans don’t win enough? Would he choose them or going somewhere he feels he’d win more? Davis has given clues he’d at least consider leaving.
Next offseason will be an inflection point with the super-max available.
First, New Orleans has a chance to impress Davis this season. He’s clearly not overly bitter about the Pelicans losing Cousins, whom Davis previously advocated keeping. That’s about all New Orleans could ask at this point.
But more importantly, the Pelicans need Davis to keep that positive, forward-looking attitude about them next offseason. The upcoming season could go a long way in determining whether he does.