Friday night was the turning point of the New Orleans Pelicans season.

Perhaps the best player in the 115-113 win over the Houston Rockets was DeMarcus Cousins, who had his third triple-double of the season, scoring 15 points to go with 13 rebounds and 11 assists. The triple-double, his second of the season, helps to exemplify how great Cousins has been this year. With a line of 25.2/12.9/5.4 paired with 1.6 steals and blocks as well as fairly efficient shooting numbers, Cousins has shown that he can still be a dominant player while sharing the frontcourt with fellow big and superstar Anthony Davis.

This dominance has helped spearhead the Pelicans, leading the Big Easy team to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Together with Jrue Holiday perhaps and E’Twaun Moore definitely having the best season of their careers, as well as a good (albeit sparse) bench crew highlighted by Darius Miller, the Pelicans were looking to be one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA, who no team would like to face come playoff time.

Unfortunately, ”were” is the keyword here. As Yahoo’s Shams Charania explains, disaster struck Pelicans Nation during the team’s victory over the rockets:

Since initial reporting, more details have come out Cousins and his torn left Achilles’ tendon. In short, Cousins is out for the rest of the year, and is faced with a lengthy and tough rehabilitation.

As such, the Pelicans are at an impasse. Too talented with too good of a current record to tank, but not good enough to make any waves in the playoffs with their current roster.

While trades like the one I laid out last week would still benefit New Orleans, the Pelicans would be best served to do one thing at this stage: nothing.

That is, do nothing with a focus on the short-term. As I said, there is nothing the the team can do to make waves in the payoffs. While the team may be tempted to go hunt down an available quality replacement big like the Atlanta Hawks‘ Dewayne Dedmon, any assets the Pelicans have would be better put to use in the future. This is true regarding future draft pick and especially this year’s, as a late lottery/late teens first rounder could net New Orleans a quality player to help augment their bench.

Additionally, there is no need to blow the team up. The rest of the team still remains. That great bench is not predicated on aging players, but young ones, and should only improve in the coming years. Davis still has three years and a player option left on his contract. Miller and Moore both have three years on their contract. With regards to Cousins, it seems he still is all in on the Pelicans, at least according to teammate Rajon Rondo via The New Orleans Advocate’s Scott Kushner:

With that in mind, Cousins will likely stick with the team in some manner in his impending free agency. While it will take year to return to baseball and another to truly get back into the groove of things, Boogie’s game is not as reliant on athleticism as other players who have torn their Achilles’ tendon in the past, and as such is more likely to have a true return-to-form in the future.

The New Orleans Pelicans should not do anything drastic in the coming weeks and months. Just maintain their current team and let the chips fall where they may. Who knows, if Cousins recovers well and this year’s draft yields a good piece, we may still see the Pelicans making waves in the Big Easy before we know it.

This article first appeared on and was syndicated with permission.


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