“I don’t really talk about free agency. But the bottom line is that obviously we’d like to have him back on our team,” Gentry said Monday, while speaking at the Saints Hall of Fame Golf Classic. “Anyone that thinks you’re better having a guy that averaged [25 PPG, 13 RPG, 5 APG] not on your team is really kind of not in tune to what it takes to win in this league.
“So there’s just so many factors that enter into it. But there’s not one single person, player or coach or in the basketball ops department or ownership that doesn’t want him back.”
Gentry was also quick to remind that the Pelicans were just as hot with Cousins in the lineup before he tore his Achilles in January as they were during their run to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The Pelicans had won seven of eight games when Cousins was injured, and he finished his season with a triple-double during an eye-opening 115-113 victory at Houston on Jan. 26. Cousins, 27, was scheduled to start in the NBA All-Star Game before the injury.
“Everyone seems to not realize that we had just beaten Houston, and I think we won eight out of 10 games,” Gentry said. “We won at Boston [during that stretch]. So we were also pretty good with him too.”
Pelicans general manager Dell Demps made similar comments about Cousins in his postseason wrap-up news conference earlier this month. And both Gentry and Demps stressed that they believe Cousins will do whatever it takes to come back from such a major injury.
However, it remains to be seen just how aggressive the Pelicans’ offer will be — or if they will crack the door open for other teams to get involved in the bidding.
Cousins, who joined the Pelicans and fellow Kentucky product Anthony Davis in a blockbuster 2017 trade, had a similar outlook on his looming free agency last week in an interview with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.
“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,” said Cousins, who was asked if he was open to re-signing with New Orleans if the deal is right.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Cousins said. “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.”
Cousins told The Undefeated that his goal is to be back from his injury in time for training camp, though doctors have not put a target date on his return. He had primarily been rehabbing in Los Angeles but was cleared to travel in time to sit courtside as the Pelicans finished their first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in New Orleans.