Former University of Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins says his prayers have been answered — just not quite like he expected.
The New Orleans Pelicans’ newest All-Star maintained on Wednesday 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.
“I would go home, just stressed out, pulling my hair out, you know, praying, praying, praying: Just send me some help.”
Cousins is the one who wound up being sent away, but to a team where he joins fellow 6-foot-11 All-Star and former UK star Anthony Davis.
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“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 Thursday night at home against Houston.
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 scored an All-Star game record 52 points and was named MVP.
Cousins is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season and can become a free agent in 2018 unless the Pelicans can sign him to an extension commensurate to All-Star pay.
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.”
Without using the term “Big Three,” General Manager Dell Demps insinuated that he sees Davis, Cousins and point guard Jrue Holiday — a former Eastern Conference All-Star — in such a light.
“We just felt that those three guys, putting them together, it’s exciting just to think about the possibilities,” Demps said.
Holiday has been averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists this season, his first healthy campaign since being acquired in 2013 trade.
The key with Cousins is how he manages his on-court disposition. Asked to describe how intense of a competitor he is, Cousins grinned and said, “about 17 technicals worth,” as he referred to his league-leading technical foul total, which has already resulted in a suspension.
In describing how he and Davis would complement one another, Cousins said, “You’ve got a little fire; you’ve got a little ice,” with the obvious insinuation that Cousins represented the “fire.”
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, to find that balance,” 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.”
The Pelicans’ can’t afford any suspensions. The deal, which also brought New Orleans Omri Casspi in exchange Tryeke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round this summer, need to pay immediate dividends. The Pelicans are 2 1/2 games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 25 games left.
“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.”