LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former Kentucky basketball stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are joining forces in the NBA after a blockbuster trade sent Cousins from the Sacramento Kings to Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans late Sunday. On Monday, their college coach, John Calipari, delivered a preemptive strike against inevitable buzz that he might join them.
“First of all, that’s not happening,” Calipari said on the SEC teleconference. He added that current Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, “one of the bright offensive minds out there, is probably working day and night trying to figure out, ‘How do we start playing and then where to we go from there? What are we trying to look like?’ ”
Calipari has an idea, after the Pelicans sent Tyreke Evans (one of Calipari’s stars at Memphis) and rookie Buddy Hield to the Kings in the trade, along with first- and second-round picks.
“They gotta get some guards. They gotta get a couple perimeter guys,” he said. “But the bottom line is both of those two, Anthony and DeMarcus, want to win. They want to win. You can say what you want, but DeMarcus, when he was here, he shared. He wanted to win. He played to win. And then when he was with USA Basketball, it was the same. You talk to Mike Krzyzewski, they’re gonna tell you, ‘Look, the game where we needed him to really play, he played.’ ”
That was in reference to the idea Cousins, who has a penchant for technical fouls and high-profile outbursts, is a bad teammate. There are two schools of thought on that: Many around the league believe Sacramento’s toxic environment was partially to blame. Now in a better situation, Cousins will have a chance to prove he was never the primary problem.
“The only issue I have is: You must give them time to figure each other out,” Calipari said of Davis, Cousins and whoever else the Pelicans try to add soon. “You must give them time. It’s not happening in a week. They got like 25 games left to try and figure where this is going. If you remember when Cleveland did their thing (putting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love together) and everything was, ‘Wow, this is gonna be …’ It took time, and it’ll take those two time.”