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While DeMarcus Cousins will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career July 1, one thing was made perfectly clear Monday.
The New Orleans Pelicans want him back.
Just ask coach Alvin Gentry, who said “there’s not one single person” in the organization who doesn’t want him to return to the Pelicans next season.
“I don’t really talk about free agency. But the bottom line is that obviously, we’d like to have him back on our team,” Gentry said Monday while speaking at the Saints Hall of Fame Golf Classic, according to ESPN. “Anyone that thinks you’re better having a guy that averaged [25 PPG, 13 RPG, 5 APG] not on your team is really kind of not in tune to what it takes to win in this league.”
Cousins suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in January and missed New Orleans’ run to the playoffs, where it upset third-seeded Portland in the first round before being taken out in five games by defending champion Golden State in the second round.
Before Cousins suffered his injury Jan. 26 in a 115-113 win at Houston, the Pelicans had won seven of eight games.
“So there’s just so many factors that enter into it,” Gentry said. “But there’s not one single person, player or coach or in the basketball ops department or ownership that doesn’t want him back.”
Cousins, 27, whom the Pelicans acquired in a blockbuster trade in 2017 and paired with fellow former University of Kentucky star Anthony Davis, remains wanted and welcome in New Orleans, Gentry reiterated.
“Everyone seems to not realize that we had just beaten Houston, and I think we won eight out of 10 games,” Gentry said. “We won at Boston [during that 7 wins-in-8-games stretch]. So we were also pretty good with him, too.”
Cousins says he has felt that vibe from his New Orleans teammates.
“I know for a fact my teammates want me back there, but you know it’s a business,” he told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “The people in the front office are going to make the best decision for the team or whatever they feel is the best decision. You know, we’ll see what happens.”
Cousins was asked if he was open to re-signing with New Orleans if the deal is right.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Cousins said. “This is my first time in free agency, but I’ve been around this business long enough. I know how things work. I’m not out here trying to hold a grudge or anything like that. I’m going to make the best decision for me, and I believe teams are going to do the same thing.”