I wanted to play around with the idea of taking a hard line on Boogie. Before free agency started, the Boogie conundrum seemed a bit simpler, keep him or let him go. Now obviously it looks like he’s more than likely to stay on a favorable deal (for the Pellies, not Boogie sadly), after Deandre Jordan took the Mavs space and the Lakers looking like they went in another direction.
After perhaps the most exciting year for the Pelicans in franchise history, there are definitely some questions heading into next year. Mainly, the questions revolve around how they will build on this past year’s success. But there is no bigger question than what will the Pelicans do with the Boogie “problem”. Well I’m here to give you the definitive answer to that question:
The Pels should bring Boogie back next season at pretty much any cost. I’ll repeat that one more time, for the people in the back
THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS SHOULD BRING BOOGIE BACK NEXT SEASON
If there’s one constant in the NBA it’s that talent, having/acquiring it, is the most important thing to a team’s success. The Warriors, Rockets, Celtics, even the Cavs, were there at the end of the season and all have varying levels of good to “oh my God what are we even supposed to do against this” talent. Bringing back and taking the risk on Boogie probably gives the Pellies their best shot at having top end talent. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that there is definite risk in bringing back Demarcus Cousins for any amount. First and foremost is that he may not be the same player he once was. Look, Achilles injuries are scary. But look at how Rudy Gay turned out, less from a comparison of the two players, but the medical technologies. I’m not a doctor and as far as I know neither is anyone on staff, but it makes sense to me that medical technology has probably improved not only since Wesley Matthews and Rudy Gay, but definitely since Elton Brand, the achilles case he most often gets compared to. Boogie will be getting the literally the best care ever invented for his Achilles rehab to bring him back to the player he was.
But if he is even going to be 80% of All-Star Boogie, that was averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds pre injury, there’s just no way to easily replace that with the Pels options over the next few seasons. If you think Mirotic is the answer, I have a hard time believing in a guy that for the most part has been a streaky player offensively for his entire career. Just look at last season, came back after missing time for Chicago and shot 43% from 3, then got traded and dropped down to 34%, all before going back up to 34% in the playoffs. I just think instead of relying on Niko as a starter, he would work better as a player in more of a sixth man role. There was a time when Pels fans really bought into Omer Asik, Ryan Anderson, and AD as one of the best big man rotations. With even a less than 100% DMC, him with the rotation of AD and Miro is definitely an upgrade over those former three. Am I saying they should give Demarcus a full max 30 million dollar deal? No. Am I saying that if it comes to it, the extra 5-10 million that he will cost over a bargain prove it deal would be better served giving it to him? Almost assuredly.
Signing Boogie to a bigger contract even makes sense if Dell Demps wanted to move on from him. If there’s no sign and trade options now, the Pels can wait and see if he puts on a good showing by the trade deadline or the end of the season and receive 30 million in other pieces to fill in gaps Even the worst case scenario of Boogie not being worth it post injury could eventually be made more palatable. If he was let’s say 50% the player he was, he could still be moved, albeit at a more steep cost and for worse pieces to a team that could afford more patience to wait for his recovery. Even then, the Pels could use that as a way to get assets while moving off. They wouldn’t be good assets, and this isn’t the strongest part of my argument, but this is the risk part to “risk/reward”.
While the Pels definitely had more success after the injury, going 21-13, arguably the Pelicans most important statement wins came with Boogie. The wins against the Boston Celtics in overtime, and the game where Boogie tore his achilles against the Houston Rockets (whom no one had defeated when Capela, CP3 and Harden were playing), were the two most defining wins of the season for the Pels. They were games that featured all three of the Pels best players, Boogie, Jrue, and AD, playing up to their competition. Are there times where the team played down to their competition with Boogie? Sure, in that stretch of 10 games that ended with the win over the Rockets, the had losses to Atlanta and Memphis, but it’s a long season, those losses happen. These two wins against the respective Eastern and Western Conference runners up should carry more weight. That’s because it showed that with the Pelicans’s core, they could compete and really go toe to toe with some of the best teams in the league.
All in all, it’s a risk, but the rewards of talent and what that does for the team is the route the Pels should go when it comes to Boogie Cousins’s next deal.