Pelicans, Mavs get back to business after big trades

There will be a whole lot of new blood on display when the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans collide Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

A lot of it will be Blue Blood.

The Pelicans and Mavericks pulled off the two biggest trades of the season, acquiring DeMarcus Cousins and Nerlens Noel, respectively. The additions of the former Kentucky big men were made with an eye on the future and the now.

Surprisingly, each franchise gave up relatively little in the deals and both are still gunning for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

New Orleans (23-35) dealt for Cousins to pair with fellow UK product Anthony Davis to form a towering frontline. Cousins had 27 points, 14 rebounds, 5 steals, 5 assists and 4 blocks in a 30-point defeat to Houston on Thursday.

Cousins was shocked and hurt by the move from his longtime NBA home, but was happy to get on the floor in New Orleans with his new team.

“It was good to get it under my belt, good to get it out of my way,” Cousins said after the 129-99 setback. “It’s good to just get back to basketball, finally. I know there was a lot of anticipation coming up to this for the city, for the fans and for myself as well.”

On Friday, the Pelicans reluctantly waived Omri Casspi, who was part of the Cousins trade but broke his thumb Thursday against the Rockets. New Orleans signed Reggie Williams and Jarrett Jack to 10-day contracts.

The Mavs added Noel, the No. 6 pick in 2013 from Kentucky, from Philadelphia in a stunning move at Thursday’s deadline. Noel didn’t make the trip to Minnesota for the Mavs’ 97-84 loss Friday, but is expected to make his Dallas debut on his new home floor against the Pelicans.

The Mavericks (22-35) are still clinging to playoff aspirations despite a three-game losing streak. Noel would be a big part of that potential postseason push.

“Our hope and expectation is to have this energize our team and really make a run, but this was an absolute move for the future,” Dallas general manager Donnie Nelson said.

Noel has been compared favorably to former Dallas center Tyson Chandler, a defensive-minded rim protector and rebounder who excelled in the pick-and-roll. Noel, at 22, adds to a young nucleus that includes Harrison Barnes (24), Seth Curry (26) and rookie sensation Yogi Ferrell (23).

The Mavs not only traded away veteran center Andrew Bogut to get Noel, but waived veteran point guard Deron Williams later that same day. That opened the door for Ferrell to be the starter for the foreseeable future.

“We love his energy, his enthusiasm for the game,” Mavs coach Carlisle said. “He goes hard. He’s proven that he can defend some of the really good, quick point guards well. You don’t stop those guys, but you can make it hard on them. And he’s obviously had some good stretches of scoring the ball.

“So, for him, I want him to stay in the process of being a threat to score on offense and, off of that, being able to make plays, get other people set up. And defensively, just keep playing at a high-energy level, play without fouling, be in a hit-first mode.”