"I hope so," Davis told the New York Times' Marc Stein. "That's a decision he has to make. I'm pretty confident that he'll stay. From what I hear, he plans on it. But I'm going to keep selling the dream here. I'll be very involved—I want him here."
Cousins, who's out for the remainder of the regular season with a ruptured Achilles, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Prior to hitting the shelf, he was in the midst of one of the most productive seasons for a big man in recent memory.
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Over 48 appearances, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. According to Basketball Reference, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-76) is the only other player in league history to average at least 25 points, 12 boards, five dimes and 1.5 blocks over the course of an entire season.
He also proved effective in a partnership with Davis.
In 1,094 minutes together before Cousins' injury, the Pelicans logged an offensive rating of 108.4 and outscored opponents by 4.2 points per 100 possessions when their two All-Star bigs shared the floor, per NBA.com's lineup data.
As far as free agency is concerned, the big question is whether or not the Pelicans' front office will be comfortable committing a max salary slot to a 27-year-old center (Cousins turns 28 in August) coming off a severe injury that could limit his explosiveness.
If they are, and Cousins is truly committed to a Big Easy return, it stands to reason the two sides could hammer out terms in short order once free agency begins July 1.