DeMarcus Cousins holds his new jersey “0” during a news conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 in Metairie, La. Cousins maintained that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn’t happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he’d become frustrated with the lack of another elite talent on the Kings’ roster. (Ted Jackson /NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins says his prayers have been answered, although not necessarily in the way he expected.
The New Orleans Pelicans’ newest All-Star maintained Wednesday that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn’t happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he’d become frustrated waiting through six-plus losing seasons for the Kings to add more elite players.
“I would go home, just stressed out, pulling my hair out, you know, praying, praying, praying: Just send me some help,” Cousins said.
Cousins is the one who wound up being sent away, but to a team where he joins fellow 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis. In New Orleans, they’re calling the tandem, “Boogie and Brow,” the former being Cousins’ nickname and the latter a reference to Davis, known for his connected eyebrows, or unibrow.
“Our games complement one another and being together I think is going to make both of our jobs easier,” Cousins said shortly before his first Pelicans practice. “We can wreak havoc on this league. Will it happen overnight? Probably not, but our potential is scary.”
Davis and Cousins debut as Pelicans teammates at home Thursday night against Houston — a game Davis has eagerly awaited since learning of the trade Sunday night. The deal excited him to the point he had trouble sleeping and texted Cousins around 3 a.m. Monday. Cousins’ was up, too, and texted back.
“I was up all night just thinking about how far we could go and what we could do on the court together,” Davis said. “We’re both excited for the rest of the season, then next year.”
Cousins is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season and can become a free agent in 2018 unless the Pelicans sign him to an extension.
Cousins said he’s not prepared to discuss his contract situation now, but stressed, “I’m all in. I’ll make the best of this opportunity and see what the future holds.”
Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season and is coming off his fourth straight All-Star game. On Sunday night, he scoredand was named MVP.
Without using the term “Big Three,” general manager Dell Demps insinuated that he sees the two former Kentucky big men and point guard Jrue Holiday — a former Eastern Conference All-Star — in that light.
“We just felt that those three guys, putting them together, it’s exciting just to think about the possibilities,” Demps said.
Holiday, who has struggled with injuries since being acquired in 2013, has been healthy this season and is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists.
The key with Cousins is how he manages his notoriously combustible on-court disposition. Asked to describe how intense of a competitor he is, Cousins grinned and said, “about 17 technicals worth,” referring to his league-leading technical foul total. His 16th technical foul resulted in a one-game suspension, as would his 18th, 20th and every two after that for the rest of the season.
In describing how he and Davis would complement one another, Cousins said, “You’ve got a little fire; you’ve got a little ice.”
Demps laughed and added, “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Still, Cousins said he was not averse to trying harder to reign in his emotions — a little.
“Being in the position I’m in right now, I’m going to have to turn it down a little bit,” Cousins said. “I have to remain myself. That’s the way I play. That’s what makes me the player that I am, but I do have to find that fine line.”
Davis said he’ll be ready to step between Cousins and officials or others to try to keep Cousins calm when tensions rise.
“I’m not afraid of him — at all,” Davis said. “When you want to win, you’ve got to be comfortable telling whoever what they need to hear.”
The Pelicans’ can’t afford any suspensions. They are 2 1/2 games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 25 games left. They need quick results from the Cousins deal, which also brought New Orleans forward Omri Casspi in exchange guards Tryeke Evans, Buddy Hield, and Langston Galloway, along with first- and second-round draft picks this summer.
“I’m extremely, extremely excited about the possibilities,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It does take time. We’re going to try to make it work quickly. That may not be the case but we don’t have a whole lot of margin of error right now.”
If the Pelicans make the playoffs, they’re first-round opponent likely will be the Golden State Warriors, who currently holds the top seed and now see New Orleans as a more formidable foe.
“Who wants to see a team with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis on the same team? Nobody! Right?” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said. “Literally, those guys are huge. They put points on the board. I feel like they had to do something with their organization with where they were to try to put another superstar or All-Star around Anthony Davis. It’s a good move for them.”
Cousins’ new team plays just a two-hour drive west on Interstate 10 from his native Mobile, Alabama. Cousins said he’s pleased to be closer to home.
His new jersey number is 0, which he said represents his “new life.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.