LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The New Orleans Pelicans are conducting a big man experiment that is as potentially promising and combustible as their new center, DeMarcus Cousins.
By pairing the bruising Cousins alongside elastic forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans own the NBA’s most dynamic post duo but it may also be the riskiest.
New Orleans traded three players and two draft picks to Sacramento last month to acquire Cousins, as well as since-waived forward Omri Casspi.
It was a reasonable price for a standout like Cousins, but one that came with accelerated expectations.
New Orleans are just 2-5 since the move, and one of the wins came with Cousins serving a one-game suspension for receiving his 18th technical foul of the season.
“You just need time to be able to place guys in situations where they can be successful,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told Reuters before Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“If you look at the numbers, (Cousins and Davis) have played great. It’s incorporating a player of (Cousins’) stature into the whole mix. It’s not something that happens overnight.”
The Pelicans (25-39), though, are short on time. They have 18 games remaining in the regular season and are 3-1/2 games back of a playoff spot.
Next season will be the last one on Cousins’ contract before he becomes a free agent. More than wins, New Orleans needs to produce positive signs that their tandem can lead them to a winning future.
The two have shown moments of synergy, like combining for 57 points and 24 rebounds to beat the Lakers 105-97 on Sunday.
“We were talking more (on the court). He told me what he was going to do and we’re trying to play off each other,” Davis told reporters after the win.
Added Cousins: “We’re definitely getting better each game. It’s just about learning each other’s tendencies.”
While Davis moves seamlessly from perimeter to paint, Cousins is a lumbering force who is at odds with the NBA’s faster and smaller model.
On and off the court, Cousins is a looming presence that demands notice – in contrast to the softer spoken Davis who has been the face of the franchise since they drafted him first overall in 2012.
Davis and the Pelicans now have to make extra room for Cousins in hope that time will render an ideal fit.
“It’s hard when a team already had their set chemistry and you add a piece like myself,” Cousins said.
Editing by Frank Pingue