By Ryan Nguyen
When DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon last Jan. 26, all looked lost for the Pelicans. They had ridden the duo of Cousins and Anthony Davis to a 27-21 record, and while they weren’t exactly title contenders, their future seemed geared toward re-signing Cousins in the summer and continuing to build around the two big men.
Cousins’ injury destroyed those plans—just not for the reasons suspected at the time. On Feb. 1, desperate for anyone who could play alongside Davis, the Pelicans traded for Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. What looked like a Band-Aid instead turned into a move that altered the course of the franchise. The Pelicans ripped off 10 straight wins from mid-February through early March, made the playoffs and then swept the Blazers before falling to the Warriors. Instead of paying huge money to retain the injured Cousins, they let him walk.