The New Orleans Pelicans will take on the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, marking the first time that Pellies center DeMarcus Cousins has faced off against his former team since the All-Star Sunday trade that shipped him from California’s capital to the Big Easy — and, for that matter, the first time Cousins has ever taken the floor against the team that drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Naturally, reporters at the Pelicans’ Thursday practice were interested in Boogie’s frame of mind entering his first ever matchup with the Kings. Here’s what we know for sure: Boogie’s really looking forward to the chance to come out, play hard, and get a win.
DeMarcus Cousins stuck to the same refrain for the first few questions about his first game against the Kings: pic.twitter.com/QjacNFAMlM
— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) March 30, 2017
While Cousins primarily offered a broad smile and a vanilla sound bite when asked about facing off against Sacramento, those who share the Pelicans locker room with him suggested that Cousins figures to be especially amped up come Friday. From Justin Verrier of ESPN.com:
“Just go in, play hard and try to get a win,” he said, echoing similar phrases for the first five questions posed by reporters on Thursday at the Pelicans’ practice facility.
But the big smile on Cousins’ face said otherwise. As did those around him.
“I definitely think y’all should have y’all popcorn ready,” Pelicans guard Jordan Crawford said. “For sure. I definitely think that he’s hype. We’ll just leave it at that.”
Said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: “I guarantee the guy that leaves Apple and goes to Microsoft, he wants to kick their ass, too. That’s just the way it is.” […]
“I think guys are kidding themselves when they say it’s just another game,” Gentry said. “It’s never just another game. It’s just like coaches — when you get fired from another team and you play them, you want to beat that team. It’s not like when you play somebody else. It’s just human nature.”
While Cousins — who has averaged 22.9 points, 12 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks in 33 minutes per game in 14 appearances as a Pelican, with the team going 6-8 with him in the lineup and 9-9 overall since the trade — might be looking forward to the chance to
come out, play hard, and get a win roast his former teammates, he did break from his script to make it clear that he’s got nothing but love for Sacramento. (Well, the city of Sacramento and its people, at least. Certain aspects of Sacramento, he’s made it clear that he doesn’t miss.)
While his relationship with the organization was tumultuous at times, the star center said that he has plenty of fond memories from his time with the Kings.
“I enjoyed my time there,” Cousins said. “I developed a lot of relationships. It’ll be good to see the guys again. I haven’t seen them since before the (All-Star) break. It’ll be a good chance to see those guys and laugh a little bit.
“But seriously, it’s another chance for us to come out and get better. That’s how I’m approaching the game.” […]
“I’m not trying to make it personal or anything like that,” Cousins said. “I was joking when I said it but I’m really serious, my only focus is to go in and get a win. This is just another opportunity for us to go in and get better … To come in and try to make it about me, that would be a selfish move on my end.”
One of Cousins’ old colleagues, at least, is eager to see the mercurial center, according to Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee:
“I’m going to give him a big hug,” [guard Ben] McLemore said.
As for how he expects Cousins to approach the reunion?
“What do you think?” McLemore said, grinning. “You never know what to expect from DeMarcus.”
Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong, Ben. We know exactly what to expect from DeMarcus: he’s going to come out, play hard, and try to get a win. He made that abundantly clear.
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