The Pelicans had a spirited finish to the regular season and then reached the second round for the first time in the Anthony Davis Era and so based purely on that, this team appears to be heading in the right direction.
But will they travel with or without DeMarcus Cousins?
He missed much of the fun with an Achilles injury and might not return until the Christmas holidays. In any event, Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer and, well, it's complicated.
Under normal circumstances, the Pelicans would max him out. But things changed: New Orleans played a winning style without him, and his injury could have a negative effect on his movement and performance; big men struggle with Achilles issues more than others because of the weight they carry.
That doesn't mean Cousins will be less than 100 percent or that the Pelicans will turn a cold shoulder come July 1. But nothing's for certain. The market will dictate plenty, in terms of contract length and if there's competition for his services.
He recently broke his silence and spoke to The Undefeated's Marc Spears in a question-and-answer. Here's a sample:
As far as free agency, what do you think the level of interest is with New Orleans, on your side and on their side?
I know for a fact my teammates want me back there, but you know it's a business. The people in the front office are going to make the best decision for the team or whatever they feel is the best decision. You know, we'll see what happens. I honestly can't answer that question, I haven't spoken to the front office in a while, so we'll see what happens.
Are you open to re-signing with New Orleans if the deal is right?
Oh yeah, for sure. This is my first time in free agency, but I've been around this business long enough. I know how things work. I'm not out here trying to hold a grudge or anything like that. I'm going to make the best decision for me, and I believe teams are going to do the same thing.
Do you think teams will hold the injury against you, or you're not concerned about that being a problem?
Honestly, I'm not concerned. I know my mindset. I know how hard I work at my craft. I think I'll be back in no time.