Three trade targets for the Pelicans following DeMarcus Cousins' injury

Cleveland Cavaliers v New Orleans Pelicans

After DeMarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans tore his Achilles tendon on Friday night, the mood immediately shifted from optimistic to pessimistic in the Big Easy.

Averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 36.2 minutes per contest this season, Cousins has thrived alongside Anthony Davis. The two have made up perhaps the best frontcourt duo in recent NBA history and have led the Pelicans to a 27-21 record.

"We were starting to play damn good basketball," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told ESPN in a text message after the injury occurred. "DeMarcus has been great."

"I feel horrible for him," Gentry told reporters after the game. "Everything that he's done, and what he's tried to do for us this year, and what he's made himself, and the improvements in all areas that he's made on and off the court, has just been great. I don't want that to happen to a guy that's trying to better himself."

Winning seven of their last eight games, the Pelicans are now at an odd spot. Clearly in the playoff picture in the stacked Western Conference, they have a few options.

Orlando Magic v New Orleans Pelicans

They can choose to trade away most of the team's assets, including Davis, and begin a rebuild. They can decide to stick it out and put a "next man up mentality" into motion, promoting a current player on the roster to fill in for Cousins. Or, they can acquire someone who could make an impact for the remainder of the season, keeping their playoff hopes alive.

Let's assume they pick the third option. Here are three logical trade ideas, all of which are verified to work financially by ESPN's Trade Machine

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers

Pelicans trade Cheick Diallo, 2018 first-round draft pick to Knicks for Michael Beasley

Replacing 25.2 points per game will be difficult for the Pelicans to do with their current roster. Although Davis will be relied on even more heavily on the offensive end of the floor and others like Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and E'twaun Moore will also undoubtedly see extra usage, acquiring another offensive-minded individual would be smart move.

Enter Beasley, who is having a resurgent season for the New York Knicks. Despite playing just 19.8 minutes per game, the journeyman has averaged 12.8 points and 5.0 boards per contest. When he's been put in the starting lineup, he has averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game over seven contests. With Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis healthy, the Knicks have not given Beasley steady playing time and he's on a one-year, veteran's minimum deal.

From the Knicks' perspective, gaining a young forward (Diallo) and a first-round pick for an expiring contract would make a lot of sense from a rebuilding standpoint. Meanwhile, the Pelicans would receive a legitimate scorer with versatility to play either forward spot.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings

Pelicans trade Omer Asik, 2018 first-round draft pick to Kings for Zach Randolph

At this stage in his career, Asik is a rotational player at best. Despite the fact that the Kings have a lot of young talent, they managed to sign a few veterans to lucrative, multi-year deals this past offseason. George Hill was one of those players and his name has been mentioned within recent trade rumors. Randolph is another.

Averaging 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game this season, Randolph doesn't have the three-point range that Cousins has, but his game largely resembles Boogie's otherwise. A punishing inside scorer, Randolph would be a perfect fit alongside Davis and could mimic Cousins in many ways.

Although taking on the rest of Asik's contract would be painful, gaining another first-round pick would most likely make the Kings consider this deal, especially since the organization made it clear that they will give younger players additional playing time moving forward, sending most of the veterans to diminished roles.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns

Pelicans trade Solomon Hill, Omer Asik, Cheick Diallo, 2018 first-round draft pick, two future second-round picks to Suns for Greg Monroe, Troy Daniels

On an expiring deal, Monroe is currently on the rebuilding Suns and is not consistently in coach Jay Triano's rotation, playing only when Tyson Chandler or Alex Len misses a game. Although he is arguably one of the three best players on Phoenix's roster, it seems as though the team is trying to prevent any potential injury that Monroe could suffer, since he's a viable trade target in the last year of his current contract. Since Phoenix most likely will not give Monroe the large payday that he will desire this summer, shipping him off would be a smart move since they wouldn't receive any compensation if he walks away in the offseason.

Although taking on the remaining contract years of both Hill and Asik would undoubtedly hurt for the Suns, gaining a first-round pick and two additional second round picks might be enough to make the deal happen.

Averaging 11.3 points and 8.4 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game for the Suns after being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the season, Monroe wouldn't be able to match Cousins' productivity on either end of the court, but he is a nightly double-double threat when given starter's minutes. Just like Randolph, he's a scrappy, hard-nosed scorer and rebounder in and around the post and possess the same type of killer instinct that Cousins has.

New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards

Although the Pelicans could decide to wave the white flag and become sellers, it appears as though they have at least three legitimate trade targets. It remains to be seen what Pelicans general manager Dell Demps decides to do. Since Demps is probably on the hot seat right now and with Anthony Davis eligible to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2020, New Orleans will most likely do everything possible to create the best-possible roster moving towards a playoff push.

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