Can Davis and Cousins lead the Pelicans to the postseason?

When the Pelicans initially made the blockbuster trade that brought All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the playoffs became a big topic of discussion.

New Orleans was 11th in the West at the time with a 23-34 record. Surely the All-Star duo of Anthony Davis and Cousins would push the Pelicans into the playoffs, right?

Not quite. The Pelicans only moved up one spot in the conference standings after the trade and finished with a 34-48 record. They only went 11-14 after Cousins arrived.

It is crazy looking back at the playoff talk. The Pelicans were supposed to reach the eighth seed and challenge the Golden State Warriors with the mismatches their frontcourt had created. How would Golden State’s backcourt deal with this obstacle?

Anthony Davis DeMarcus Cousins

The addition of Cousins did not go as planned last season. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The question we should have been asking ourselves is how are these slow-paced big men going to deal with the tempo Golden State plays at? Yes, the Pelicans no doubt have the best frontcourt in the NBA. However, they still lacked production from the rest of the roster and had some team chemistry issues.

They got 52 points, 24 rebounds and three blocks per game from the dynamic duo, but didn’t get much from the rest of the team.

Jrue Holiday is a former All-Star, but put up a mediocre 15 points and seven assists last season as the Pelicans’ starting point guard.

The next highest scorer on the team was Jordan Crawford at 14 per game.

As a team, the Pelicans scored 104.3 points per game (18th) and allowed 106.4 (17th). With Cousins on the roster, they scored 106.5 and allowed 106.3 per game.

Besides the fact that those numbers are below average, Cousins did not seem to do too much for the team.

Davis and Cousins’ resumes

What has Cousins done in his seven seasons in the league? He’s a three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA team member and has averaged a career 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Something is missing though, and that is a playoff appearance.

Now I know Cousins has not had much to work with as far as teammates go in his career, but the most games the Kings ever won with him on the roster was 33.

The same can be said about Davis. He is a four-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA team member and has averaged 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks over his five NBA seasons. Davis has led New Orleans to one postseason appearance when they finished 45-37 in a very competitive Western Conference and were then swept by the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Other than that, Davis has only helped the Pelicans reach 34 wins in a season.

However, like Cousins, he also has not had much talent surrounding him. During the year they went to the postseason he had Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday as his supporting cast. It is by far the most talent Davis or Cousins has had around themselves.

Their circumstances are similar and have been difficult, but could Davis and/or Cousins just not have it in them?

Davis and Cousins are a whole lot of star power to be going 11-14 and missing the playoffs. The fact that they have one postseason birth in 12 years of combined experience is also interesting to think about. The fact that so many teams in the Western Conference boosted their talent is not going to make things any easier for the Pelicans.

The Warriors, Rockets and Spurs seem to be a lock for the top three seeds. The Thunder, Timberwolves and Nuggets will most likely finish four through six. That leaves teams like the Trail Blazers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Pelicans will be battling for the last two seeds.

How the Pelicans have improved

What has New Orleans done to get better? They resigned Holiday to a five-year contract and also added veteran Rajon Rondo. Rondo is by no means the player he used to be, but he did average almost 12 points and 12 assists per game two seasons ago when he was with Cousins in Sacramento. He assisted Cousins 237 times, which is the most he has had to one player in a season according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Anthony Davis DeMarcus Cousins

Davis and Cousins have been working out this summer in hopes of improving their team chemistry. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Davis and Cousins have also been working out together with a focus on team chemistry. The Pelicans definitely were not all on the same page considering their record after Cousins arrived. Davis told local reporters that chemistry is the biggest thing the former Kentucky Wildcats have been working on.

“He knows the things that I like to do, I know the things he likes to do, where he likes to score from, where I like to score from,” Davis said. “We know that we’re going to be two big focal points on every team’s scouting report, so we just wanted to get together and work out together and just figure out things we like to do.”

What if they can’t?

Will these moves be enough to push the Pelicans into the playoffs? They sure ought to.

If Davis and Cousins can’t gel together, that is going to be a big problem. Holiday and Rondo are also need to contribute and figure out how to get Davis and Cousins opportunities.

I’m not the type of guy to knock a player for never winning the Finals or even if they never play in the Finals. However, if Davis and Cousins can’t work together and lead this team to a postseason birth, that is a problem and going to put a damper on their legacy should they continue to miss the playoffs.

 

Featured image by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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http://thegamehaus.com/2017/07/27/soccer-players-u…ison-u-s-leagues/ ‎

Are soccer players underpaid? A comparison with U.S. leagues

In soccer, getting and signing contracts is still the wild west. There is no salary cap. There’s no player’s union. Players have very little leverage and what ends up happening is the players get underpaid.

So while you see massive transfer figures going on this summer, remember that the players see none of that money. It’s just billion dollar clubs trading millions and the player can’t get a bit of the money he just made the club he was sold from. Money in soccer is bigger than ever before yet the players seem to be getting less of the pie as the pie is getting bigger.

How is it that the global game in a globalized society is falling behind the American league in Average salaries and in highest salaries paid out?

So when people say a player is valued at over $100 million, he gets none of that money. Players are getting less portion of the revenues and it can be seen when you compare it to the American leagues. While you see the average salary keep getting raised in baseball and basketball, in Soccer it’s barely a gap and it’s  less than noticeable. All the money is ending up in transfer fees and in the hands of a billionaire instead of in the players who actually put in the hard work.

European Leagues compare to American Leagues

soccer players underpaid

Even though Messi signed a mega contract this summer most players in La Liga make less than $1milion (image: Getty Images)

If you compare the English Premier League’s average salary with that of the other leagues it dwarfs the rest of Europe. In the United States, the NFL is considered the worst paying of the major sports with no guaranteed contracts and an average salary of $2.4 million, yet only one soccer league in the world passes it.

The EPL passes it with the average salary of $3.2 million. La Liga is the next closest falls behind with just $1.6 million.

What factors into these numbers is the TV rights money not being shared. In England, money is shared equally among teams in the league and its the reason is the only league close to the American ones.

In Spain Real Madrid and Barcelona get most of the money and it creates a massive difference with the clubs they are competing against. This explains why the league has the lowest median salary. While Barcelona and Madrid have two of the highest payrolls in all of sports, only eight Spanish teams boast an average salary of over a million. Barca or Madrid’s payroll is bigger than the bottom ten teams combined and money would be left over.

Top Salaries compared

soccer players underpaid

Steph Curry makes $12 million more than any player in the EPL. (images: Getty Images)

Yet looking at these numbers, you want to think at least the highest-paid player’s contracts in soccer must be around the same as any other sport. Nope, and it’s not even close.

Paul Pogba is the highest-paid player in the EPL. He cost Manchester United over $100 million last transfer window and will make less money in his contract than Jrue Holiday. That’s right, one of the best soccer players in the world will make the same money as the starting point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year.

So while of course, it is not like soccer players are not getting good money, but the transfer fees keep rising and the reach of the game is growing by the year. Why aren’t players receiving more of the pie? The EPL is the highest-paying soccer league in the world and even its top grossing players aren’t close to the money other athletes are getting.

The global sports, like soccer, should bring the most in terms of players wages and rights, yet they are trying to play catch up with American leagues’ systems. The worst part of it all is there really isn’t a soccer player’s union that fights for the rights of the players. So the money of everything will keep staying in the owner’s hand and the player will be stuck having no leverage and using rumors to get bigger deals done.

 

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Kyle Lowry Free Agency

Potential Destinations for Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry may have just had the best season of his career. The 31-year-old point guard finished this season with averages of 22.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and seven assists per game. He also shot a career-high 41.2 percent from 3-point range.

The three-time All Star announced earlier this week that he would be opting out of his deal with Toronto to become a free agent this summer. This has raised several questions of where Lowry will be playing next season.

Lowry said his biggest priority for the future is getting a ring, according to Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic. If that is the case, that narrows down the search to only a few possibilities.

Kyle Lowry Free Agency

Kyle Lowry just had a career year in Toronto. (Photo by Tip of the Tower)

Lowry was due to make $12 million next season, but with his opt out he can receive a max contract. That may have been another factor in his decision to opt out. The Raptors can offer him the biggest contract, approximately five years for $205 million. Anyone else can only offer him four years for about $152 million.

The biggest rumored destination for Lowry so far is the 76ers. Lowry went to high school in Philadelphia and stayed in the state of Pennsylvania by playing college ball at Villanova. 76ers’ president Bryan Colangelo also made the trade for Lowry from Houston when he was the Raptors general manager. Many have reported that Philly will offer him a huge contract this summer.

Based on Lowry’s comment about winning a ring, this move makes no sense. The Sixers are young and in a rebuilding process. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric are all young talent with plenty of potential. They also will be adding another lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

However, these guys are no match in the East. LeBron James and the Cavs are always the favorites. The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards serve as the biggest threats to the Cavs. If the young Philly core stays healthy with Lowry in the lead, they would most likely make the postseason as a low seed and be eliminated in the first round.

Lowry will also be 32 next season during the postseason, so he does not have much time to waste with a rebuilding process. However, no matter where Lowry goes, he is always going to have to deal with either Cleveland or Golden State.

The Spurs may be one of the best fits for Lowry. Lowry would be a great replacement to Tony Parker at point guard. Parker had surgery for a ruptured quadricep tendon and could be out up to eight months. With an injury like that at his age, he will most likely never be the same player he was.

Kyle Lowry Free Agency

Could Lowry be teaming up with Kawhi Leonard this summer? (Photo by Air Alamo)

The Spurs also have the best chance at challenging Golden State for a spot in the Finals. Since the 2010-11 season, the Spurs have finished first in the West three times, second three times and sixth just once. They are consistently contending and adding another All Star to their team would only help. Lowry along with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge would be a scary big three.

In order for the Spurs to make this work, they would need to clear a bit of cap room. They most likely wouldn’t be able to resign backup point guard Patty Mills and they would need to hope Pau Gasol declines his player option for next season. The team had to clear a lot of room to sign Aldridge back in 2015 and they made it work without losing a beat.

The Pelicans are another team that could be enticing to Lowry. New Orleans made noise at the trade deadline with their deal for DeMarcus Cousins, but things haven’t quite worked out the way they planned yet. The Pelicans finished the season 11-14 after acquiring Cousins after having postseason expectations.

Lowry could help get the Pelicans into the postseason. The status of their current point guard, Jrue Holiday, is still uncertain. Holiday is also a free agent and averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists per game this season. Lowry would be an upgrade from Holiday should they let him walk. Lowry also would provide veteran leadership to the younger Anthony Davis and Cousins.

Money is going to be another factor in this decision as well. Right now New Orleans is paying a lot to Davis and Cousins and does not have much cap space to pay Lowry. They could let some guys go of course to make room like San Antonio would have to. Lowry also may have to take a pay cut if he wants to go to a big contender in the West.

Kyle Lowry Free Agency

Lowry and DeRozan have made Toronto a winner. Will they actually split? (Photo by Toronto Star)

Lowry could also just stay in Toronto. Assuming he stays, they still have the potential to be a top-five team in the East. He also could make the most money with the Raptors. He would be making the max and playing for a playoff team. He helped make Toronto a winner along with fellow star DeMar DeRozan and is loved by the Raptors’ fan base.

However, that is all the Raptors will be: a playoff team. Not a big contender, not a Finals team and no threat to James and the Cavs.

Serge Ibaka is also another free agent Toronto will have to consider resigning. It is going to be tough for Toronto to pay them both. Losing Ibaka would hurt some, but losing Lowry would be a big blow to the team.

It will be interesting to say the least. This summer is going to be a huge for free agency with names like Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Lowry all potentially on the move.

If a ring is what Lowry truly wants, San Antonio or New Orleans may be his best bet. He may also have to be willing to take a pay cut. That is a price he must be willing to pay if he wants a championship.

Featured Image by Sports Illustrated 

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