2. Cousins signed with the Warriors, claiming he had no other offers. New Orleans reportedly offered a two-year, $40 million extension but pulled the offer after Cousins declined. The Pelicans also reportedly planned to meet with Cousins during free agency, but he accepted the Golden State deal before they did. However you parse the semantics, what’s clear: New Orleans didn’t highly prioritize keeping Cousins.
3. Davis called losing Cousins “tough.”
4. Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans.
How connected was that franchise-altering fourth step to the prior three in the sequence? Cousins says very.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
How accurate is Cousins’ account? We can never know what would have happened if New Orleans re-signed him. But it’s probably not coincidental his version paints him in the most flattering light. The way Cousins tells it, he was the essential piece, and the Pelicans mistreated him.
I doubt Davis decided to leave once New Orleans let Cousins walk. It was almost certainly going to depend how the Pelicans performed this season, and they underwhelmed.
Would Cousins have helped? Cousins’ torn ACL made re-signing him tricky. He missed a big chunk of this season recovering. It’s still unclear whether he’ll get anywhere near his pre-injury level of production. Maybe New Orleans would be in even worse shape with Cousins on a big contract.
New Orleans’ actual situation clearly didn’t appeal to Davis.
I wouldn’t just assume an alternate reality with a re-signed Cousins would have convinced Davis to stay, though.