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Will the DeMarcus Cousins injury influence the Miami Heat roster plans?

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The season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins affects other teams beside the New Orleans Pelicans.

Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins affects not only the New Orleans Pelicans, but other Western Conference teams in the hunt for a playoff berth. Also the free agent market this summer got murkier with the health of a key available player in question.

Two earlier articles in HotHotHoops.com speculated whether the Miami Heat should pursue Cousins: Should Heat trade Whiteside for Cousins? and Should the Miami Heat trade Hassan Whiteside for DeMarcus Cousins? Now since the question of a Cousins for Hassan Whiteside swap for this season is settled, the Heat could be involved in the consequences of such a career-changing injury.

The most direct decision for the Pelicans is whether to stay in the playoff chase or not. The projected February return of small forward Solomon Hill is a plus for New Orleans. However whether the team can survive a first-round exit at the hands of a top-4 Western Conference team remains in question.

Just as relevant of an issue is what the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz plan to do to increase their playoff chances. With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, those three teams could be active buyers in the market.

Cousins is one of the top free agents available this summer. NBA teams thinking of making him an offer will reevaluate their plans and may move on to other possibilities. A change of health for a player of Boogie’s caliber affects the roster decisions for numerous teams.

The Pelicans are only one loss behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves and three losses away from becoming a lottery team, with 34 games left in the regular season. Such an unexpected event will get the text messages and phone calls going for those three franchises at least, as NBA teams jockey for position either to make the playoffs or get the best lottery pick.

For the Miami Heat remaining a top-5 seed can become a big deal during the playoffs. The sixth, seventh and eighth seeds face one of the top three teams in the first round. Depending on the exact match-up, competing against a 4th or 5th seed is theoretically a more winnable series in the post-season. Losses against teams like the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets could mean the difference between getting knocked out in the first round or not.

Will Pat Riley make any moves to bolster the Heat’s roster or not?