National Basketball Association

Can Rondo, Cousins and Thomas have a lasting impact on their new squads?

6 days ago

The NBA trade deadline and buyout market have provided new homes for some familiar faces this spring.

Veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans after not playing for more than a year.

And the LA Clippers bolstered their roster with the additions of Rajon Rondo through a trade with the Atlanta Hawks and DeMarcus Cousins via a 10-day contract.

All three players have been stars at some point in their careers, but now, they each will likely have to adjust to being called on only in spot duty.

Thomas and Cousins, in particular, are examples of how quickly things can change for a player in the NBA.

In 2017, Thomas was coming off his second consecutive All-Star selection with the Boston Celtics and had led the team to the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the way to the conference finals.

Fast-forward four years, and Thomas has played only 84 games since the start of the 2017-2018 season because of a hip injury that ended his Celtics tenure and led to difficulty sticking in the league.

Now, he joins a young Pelicans team fighting to make the play-in round of the Western Conference playoffs, and he will make his debut on Tuesday evening against the Atlanta Hawks.

For his career, Thomas averages 18.1 points per game. On "First Things First," FOX Sports NBA insider Chris Broussard said he believes there is a chance Thomas still has some scoring punch left to provide his new team.

"As far as Isaiah [Thomas], he will put up numbers. He hasn't played in a game in over a year. He's only played 84 games over the last four years. But if he is given the chance — they have a lot of injuries in New Orleans, so he should get minutes — he will put up numbers. He averaged 12 points in 23 minutes last year in Washington. So if he gets his minutes, he will give you some points."

Thomas proved Broussard right in his debut with the Pelicans.

He showed signs of rust in a 123-107 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but he also showed he is still good for instant offense off of the bench, scoring 10 points in 25 minutes of play.

Cousins has also had more than his fair share of injuries since his most recent All-Star selection in 2018 as a member of the Pelicans. The four-time All-Star big man has suffered a torn Achilles, torn quadriceps and a torn ACL in the past three years, all of which have caused him to become a shell of the player he once was.

But even with the injuries accumulating, Cousins found a home with the Houston Rockets to start the season and averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game.

Now on the Clippers, Cousins did not start in his debut on Tuesday night, but he did get on the court and on the board. He had a solid impact in limited playing time, compiling seven points and four rebounds in eight minutes. The Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 133-116.

With veteran big men Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac already on the Clippers' roster, Cousins should fit into a support role on the frontline, FS1's Brandon Marshall said.

"The Clippers, they are primed and ready to win the West. They are just going for depth. I like this for the Clippers."

Nick Wright, on the other hand, isn't as high on the Clippers' additions.

He believes both Cousins and Rondo are past their primes and won't be impact players in the postseason.

While it remains to be seen what either can bring to the table for the Clippers, it has long since been proven that Rondo can flip a switch in the postseason.

Last postseason, he averaged 8.9 PPG and 6.6 assists while shooting 40% from 3-point range to help the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA championship. Rondo had a quiet debut for the Clippers on Tuesday, with two points and two turnovers in 15 minutes.

Both the Clippers and Pelicans could use the added punch from their new acquisitions.

And if these three have anything left in the tank, they could alter the Western Conference playoff picture.

Stay tuned.

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