In his radio heyday, New Orleans broadcasting legend Buddy Diliberto used to chide Saints fans for their unbridled optimism.
The Saints would piece together a win or two or three, and then fans would call Buddy’s show with their predictions of future greatness.
“You are on the magic carpet,” said Diliberto.
It is exactly where the overwhelming majority of Pelicans fans are since the team acquired talented (and mercurial) big man DeMarcus Cousins from the Kings.
General manager Dell Demps supposedly fleeced the Kings, getting Cousins and surrendering only one future first-round draft pick. One website proclaimed that the Pelicans now have the second-best future in the Western Conference next to the Golden State Warriors.
That is a magic-carpet statement if ever there was one.
Several people like the trade, especially Demps, who has been in New Orleans for seven years and has two playoff victories to show for it.
If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs but come close, he can tell ownership, “Yeah, but wait till next year.”
If the Pelicans do make the playoffs, the many Pelicans season-ticket holders who have told me they are canceling their seats will have to reconsider. Demps suddenly will be a lot more accomplished as a general manager.
If you are DeMarcus Cousins, you love the trade. You are out of Sacramento and now play two hours from Mobile, Alabama, your hometown. You get to play with Anthony Davis, in what amounts to a one-year trial. If you don’t like it here, you can become a free agent in the summer of 2018.
And, the Pelicans lauded for “robbing” the Kings in the current trade, will be forced to trade you and, in return, get a deal much like the one the Kings got from the Pelicans.
There’s no doubting Cousins’ talents. That was on display long ago at the New Orleans Arena when he played for Kentucky in the first two rounds of the NCAA regionals.
It’s easy to see why Cousins averages 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds. The “twin tower” analogy with Davis is a legitimate thought.
But, here’s another. The Pelicans just acquired a player who leads the NBA in technical fouls. Cousins reached the All-Star break with 19.
Cousins was recently fined and suspended for one game for “an inappropriate statement and making a gesture.” That was the NBA’s official statement. The gesture was consistent with one made with a middle finger. If the deal works, Demps can laugh at his many detractors.
If the Pelicans can make a deep playoff run…
If the Pelicans can re-sign Cousins to a long term deal …
If the Pelicans really do have the millennial version of Tim Duncan and David Robinson … That’s a lot of ifs.
In the Western Conference, it is all about making up ground on Golden State. The Warriors, by the way, were built in a far different fashion than the Pelicans. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all draft picks (imagine that). Free agent Kevin Durant was the icing on the cake, and the Warriors didn’t have to surrender a pick or player to get him.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26. He can be reached at email@example.com.