The New Orleans Pelicans just recently finished up what should be considered a successful season. They swept out the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before being semi-competitive against the defending champion Warriors in the conference semifinals.

The backdrop here is rather obvious. New Orleans lost All-Str center DeMarcus Cousins to a ruptured Achilles during the regular season. No one knows how everything would have turned out if Cousins were healthy for the playoffs.

What we do know is that Cousins is now set to become a free agent this summer. Previously slotted for a max contract, we really have no idea how Cousins’ Achilles injury is going to impact his status.

With that being said, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry bluntly indicated during his season-ending press conference on Thursday that the team wants Cousins back next year.

General manager Dell Demps didn’t seem as confident.

As Demps noted, Cousins’ Achilles injury has been the “elephant in the room” when it comes to contract negotiations.

He also refused to guarantee that the Pelicans would go over the luxury tax threshold to retain Cousins.

The issue here is that Rajon Rondo might be more important for the Pelicans to keep. Rondo averaged 10.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and an NBA-best 12.2 assists during what was a stellar playoff performance for the highly embattled veteran point guard. He’s slated to become a free agent.

New Orleans also has to worry about a player in Nikola Mirotic who the team acquired during the 2017-18 season. He has just one more year left on his contract.

It’s going to be interesting to see what comes of this. When healthy, Cousins is one of the most-skilled big men in the entire Association. A serious lower-body injury for someone his size could make a long-term deal risky for any team around the NBA. That obviously includes the Pelicans.

Vincent Frank
Editor here at Sportsnaut. Contributor at Forbes. Previous bylines include Bleacher Report, Yahoo!, SB Nation. Heard on ESPN Radio and NBC Sports Radio. Northern California native living it up in Las Vegas. The Keto lifestyle. Traveler. Reader. TV watcher. Dog daddy. Sam Malone = greatest TV character ever. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," John Keating.