As he was on course to compete in the playoffs for the first time in his career, DeMarcus Cousins' season cruelly came to an end as he suffered a torn Achilles injury.
The center had formed a devastating partnership with Anthony Davis and was finally enjoying winning with the New Orleans Pelicans after enduring losing seasons every year with the Sacramento Kings.
Many expected the Pelicans to fall by the wayside in his absence but they continued to play at a high level and secured a postseason berth thanks to the outstanding form of Davis.
Both AD and New Orleans have continued that in the playoffs as they hold a 3-0 lead over the Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series.
This has led to some questions about if they're a better team without Cousins.
The big man will be a free agent in the summer and is likely to seek a max contract.
With the Louisiana-based outfit playing terrific basketball with Boogie out of the lineup, it'll force the front office to make a decision about if he's worth the outlay, especially as he's nursing a major injury.
The franchise has always held an interest in bringing the All-Star back on a long-term deal and according to Will Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that hasn't changed.
Via a Q&A session on Reddit, Guillory said: “DeMarcus hasn’t really talked to anybody about his plans in free agency, that’s why you haven’t heard much about it. But everyone within the organisation likes what he brings and they’d love to have him back.
"At this point, I’d bet on him coming back to New Orleans after free agency, but a lot can happen between now and then.
"He’s developed a really good relationship with Anthony Davis and everyone else on the team, and I think he’d love to finish what they started this year. The Pelicans’ success in the playoffs certainly doesn’t hurt their chances either.”
Cousins and Davis were set to become the first frontcourt duo in NBA history to each average 25 points and 10 rebounds and keeping this superstar duo together will give the team their best chance of competing with the top teams in the Western Conference in the years to come.
In 48 games this year, the former Kings star averaged a huge 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game.
Even with an injury that will keep him off the court for a number of months, the Pelicans will struggle to find another player that can give them this level of production.
If he has an interest in remaining in the Big Easy beyond this season, it'll be hard to see them not bringing him back.
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