On the same 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend that DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, fellow University of Kentucky product Anthony Davis called the former Sacramento Kings center “one of my closest friends in the league.” Now that Cousins left New Orleans for the Golden State Warriors, Davis changed his tune, at least when it comes to meeting him on a basketball court.
Diaz: How surprised were you when Boogie signed with the Warriors?
Davis: I mean, I’m happy for him. He did what he did. He chose the right team for his career right now with his injury, I’m assuming. I wish the best of luck to him and we’ll see him three maybe four times this year, and try to beat him. Now he’s the enemy. Anybody who’s not on the Pelicans is an enemy to me. He went from a teammate to an enemy.
Anthony Davis doesn’t keep many NBA friends
Davis hammered that “enemy” point home, even if he acknowledged that he was happy for Cousins and wished him luck — except when he’s playing the Pelicans, of course. Maybe this was said with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but it does bring back memories of this 2014 exchange between Davis and ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz in which the All-NBA big said he doesn’t make many friends in the NBA:
Arnovitz: Who’s your best friend in the league?
Davis: I don’t have a best friend.
Arnovitz: Are there guys in the league you’re tight with?
Davis: I’m not really tight with anybody. I mean, the guys on the team, but I’ve only been in the league for a couple of years. Maybe the guys from Kentucky, but that’s really it.
DeMarcus Cousins kept Davis in the dark
When you couple those “enemy” comments with the interview Davis did with CBS Sports last week, when he said he found out Cousins left New Orleans for Golden State on TV just like the rest of us, you wonder how close the oft-discussed relationship between the two Wildcats alums really was (or is):
“I was a little shocked.”
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 25, 2018
How much did the Pelicans really want Cousins?
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry denied a report out of New Orleans suggesting, “If AD wanted Cousins back, [Pelicans GM Dell] Demps would have listened. Davis liked the style the Pels started to play without Cousins, and he also liked the environment in the locker room more with Boogie absent.” Gentry countered, “I don’t know where that came about, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
This statement from Davis in March to The New York Times’ Marc Stein about Cousins’ impending free agency would also seem to contradict the report, “I’m pretty confident that he’ll stay. From what I hear, he plans on it. But I’m going to keep selling the dream here. I’ll be very involved — I want him here.”
If he was still “very involved” in the recruitment effort of Cousins in July, you’d think Davis might be more than “a little shocked” Cousins didn’t inform him directly of his intent to sign with the Warriors.
These are the same Warriors that the Pelicans lost to in a five-game Western Conference semifinals series without Cousins, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon in January. The same Warriors who Davis told Complex he hasn’t figured out how to solve yet. “It’s really tough because they play so well as a team,” he said. “They move the basketball, have the best shooters in the game, the best scorer in the game; you really have to play a perfect game.” And they now have one of the best centers in the game.
Cousins signed with the Warriors for a discounted $5.3 million after finding no traction this summer towards the max-level contract he seemed headed for before the injury. There are conflicting reports about how much the Pelicans offered the rehabbing star. Cousins said Demps “didn’t want him,” per ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, but New Orleans offered him a two-year, $40 million deal, according to Stein.
The answers to who wanted Cousins and for how much could have fascinating ramifications down the line. If Davis wanted Cousins to stay and the Pelicans didn’t do everything in their power to make that happen, that could be more domino towards Davis departing New Orleans in the future. But if Davis did not want Cousins to stay and the Pelicans did little to keep him, that could further forge the bond between player and franchise while engendering a whole different side to that “enemy” sentiment.
One thing is for sure: We’ve come a long way in the six months since Cousins told NBA.com of Davis, “Our relationship is strong. It’s one thing to be good friends when you’re on separate teams, and it only gets better when you’re on the same team. We stay on the same page. We’re good.”
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