Ex-Cats

Calipari says desire to win will fuel pairing of Davis, Cousins

Anthony Davis, Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne and DeMarcus Cousins joked around during Big Blue Madness in Rupp Arena on Oct. 16, 2015, in Lexington.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne and DeMarcus Cousins joked around during Big Blue Madness in Rupp Arena on Oct. 16, 2015, in Lexington. Herald-Leader

Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked to ESPN on Monday morning about the shocking trade late Sunday night that will lead to two of his former stars, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, teaming up in New Orleans.

The Sacramento Kings shipped Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, 2016 first-round draft pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round draft picks this summer.

Calipari said he thinks pairing the two big men could work because of their desire to win.

“You start with DeMarcus, when I had him here he would sacrifice whatever, he wanted to win,” Calipari said. “Playing on the Olympic team, he wanted to win. Whether you brought him off the bench, he wanted to win. And Anthony, when I recruited him he said ‘I don’t care where you play me, I just want to win. So you got two guys that want to win.”

But Calipari said of the Davis-Cousins combo, “it’ll take them time to get to know one another and figure out how they play off one another and how they promote each other. That may take some time.”

Calipari said Cousins, who didn’t want to be traded, will need to time to get over that.

“It hurts to be traded,” Calipari said. “And so you got to get through that first. Second thing for DeMarcus is he loved Sacramento. He loved the fans. He did not want to leave Sacramento. I talked to him about how sometimes a change is good. … you get a new start. … Right now I would say DeMarcus probably doesn’t want to hear that. I was with his mom (at the All-Star Game) last night and we talked about it.”

When asked how to make the Davis-Cousins pairing work, Calipari started out by talking about Davis’ versatility.

“Anthony could also play a ‘3’ if you wanted to,” he said. “I mean, Anthony, you saw him. He had 52 points (in the All-Star Game). I tell him all the time I can’t believe I held him back as bad as I did when I watch him now. But he can play wherever.”

Later Monday on Calipari’s SEC teleconference call, he was quick to tried dash speculation that he might coach the Pelicans in a future season.

“Well … that’s not happening.”

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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