There was a familiar face in the Pelicans' locker room Wednesday night.
DeMarcus Cousins made his first appearance with the team since undergoing surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon in late January. Since then, Cousins has been rehabbing the injury in Los Angeles, where the operation was held.
While Cousins was able to see Anthony Davis during the NBA All-Star Game, where both Pelicans were named starters, he hasn’t gotten to be around the rest of the team until this week’s trip to face the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cousins arrived in the Staples Center on crutches and took to social media.
He made a shot from the sideline while sitting on the bench, and even got onto the court with his crutches on, making a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
While Cousins has been away, several teammates said he’s been in touch via text message and phone calls, often talking to them about what they’re capable of individually and as a team.
“Oh, yeah, he’s texting us all of the time and telling us to do us,” Anthony Davis said in February. “He’s still a part of this team, and he’s an important piece of why we’re here.”
Davis even said he called Cousins minutes after he posted a season-best 53 points in last week’s win over the Phoenix Suns.
“I just called him, literally,” Davis said in the postgame locker room. “I just told him I’m rolling with Emeka Okafor all day. I really did tell him that, for real. He started laughing.
“But he’s excited. He’s excited for us. Of course, he wants to play, but he can’t. But he’s happy for us. He texts me after every game and tells us what we can do better, and I’m not sure what he tells the other guys, but we talk often. He’s happy we aren’t dropping in the standings the way everyone thought we were going to.”
Following the Pelicans’ Tuesday afternoon shootaround, Cousins and Davis gathered the entire team around them for a group picture at the Staples Center scorer’s table. Both posted the picture on their social media accounts with the word “Squad” captioning the photo.
“He should be coming around the team team soon,” Davis said after the Phoenix win. “I’m looking forward to seeing him and hearing his voice around here again.”