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When DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, it seemed like the conclusion to a perfect weekend for basketball fans in the Big Easy.
The city hosted the All-Star Game. Anthony Davis broke the All-Star single-game scoring record. And oh yeah, one of the best centers in the NBA is coming to town, while giving up relatively little in exchange.
The Sacramento Kings’ organization was mocked for the trade.
The fun and celebration in New Orleans seemed to come to a halt right when the actual games started.
New Orleans was blown out by the Houston Rockets, 129-99, in Cousins’ debut in front of his new hometown fans.
It was only one game and no one can expect instant chemistry, so the blowout wasn’t cause for any Pelicans fans to lose sleep.
However, the first semi-major negative headline came when Cousins managed to find a way to be suspended less than three games into his tenure with the Pelicans.
Cousins received his 18th technical foul of the season on Feb. 26 in Oklahoma City. He already had been suspended once this season for receiving his 16th technical foul.
From that point forward, every two technical fouls results in another one-game suspension.
The Pelicans were 0 and 3 in his first three games since the trade.
Coincidentally, when Cousins was suspended, New Orleans beat the Detroit Pistons, 109-86, on March 1.
Cousins returned to action on March 3 against the Spurs and the Pelicans played their best game with him on the floor, pushing San Antonio to the brink, but still losing.
Granted, not many teams have been able to beat the Spurs at all for quite some time.
New Orleans followed up that loss with a much-needed victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, and given those two consecutive strong showings from the team, it appeared that just maybe Cousins and the Pelicans were beginning to turn a corner.
The Pelicans proceeded to lose the next two, falling to Utah and Toronto, dropping their record since the Cousins trade to 2-6 overall (1-6 when he plays).
As if that wasn’t discouraging enough, Cousins was fined $50k by the league on Thursday for directing inappropriate language towards fans in separate incidents, which occurred during the Lakers’ win and the loss to the Jazz.
All of this is a long way of saying things haven’t exactly gone as planned in New Orleans, but Cousins’ cynics would say that none of this comes as a surprise.
It’s far too early to judge anything definitively, but for a team whose intention of adding Cousins at the deadline was to make a playoff push, it’s certainly backfired up to this point.
New Orleans was 2.5 games out of the eighth-seed before the trade.
After this rough patch, the Pelicans have fallen to 12th place in the West, 4.5 games back, and a half game behind – you guessed it – the Sacramento Kings.
It’s not time to panic in New Orleans, but if this doesn’t turn around soon, the Pelicans’ power move to make the playoffs is not going to make the immediate impact the front office and fans were hoping for.
At least the team didn’t give up a King’s Ransom to get him.