New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard E‘Twaun Moore wasn’t too surprised DeMarcus Cousins didn’t return to the team in free agency this summer, but was confounded when he heard Rajon Rondo signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cousins, who tore his left Achilles’ tendon in January, turned down an extension from the Pelicans before the season ended and didn’t receive any offers when free agency started. So, Cousins and his camp decided to give the Golden State Warriors a call expressing interest in joining their already stacked roster, and the All-Star center ended up signing a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the back-to-back champions.
Rondo, meanwhile, was expected to re-sign with the Pelicans after a strong playoff showing. The veteran point guard posted 10.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 12.2 assists per game in the postseason and helped the Pelicans sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first-round.
The Pelicans wanted to bring Rondo back, as the organization loved what he did for the development of star Anthony Davis and combo guard Jrue Holiday. The franchise was working to re-sign Rondo on a two-year deal, but Rondo reportedly gave the Pelicans five minutes to make a decision after he told them about the Lakers deal.
The Pelicans were blindsided when Rondo signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Lakers. Moore, just like the Pelicans, was appalled that Rondo wasn’t coming back.
“Honestly, with DeMarcus Cousins, we kind of, well, I kind of knew he probably wasn’t gonna be back just because of the contract situation,” Moore told Alex Kennedy on the Hoops Hype Podcast. “But when Rondo left, that was surprising. I thought he was going to stay for sure.”
The Pelicans signed Elfrid Payton and he will replace Rondo as the team’s starting point guard. Davis heavily recruited Julius Randle to New Orleans after the Lakers renounced Randle’s free-agent rights. Randle agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal with the Pelicans.