Rapid Reaction: Cousins Will Stay in New Orleans
After spending time on convincing the Sacramento-faithful that DeMarcus Cousins is not on the trade block, the Sacramento Kings have agreed to trade their disgruntled franchise player, along with Omri Casspi, to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans 2017 first-round selection and the Philadelphia 76ers second-round selection.
Cousins, who was in New Orleans for the All-Star festivities, was limited to just two minutes of action as Vlade Divac, and the Kings, requested he be limited to prevent injury, ensuring the completion of the deal while telling the fans the opposite. Kings forward, Matt Barnes, even went on Instagram Live to affirm the fans to dismiss rumors and speculation as well.
Sacramento Kings Grade: B-
Sacramento was clearly not going anywhere with Cousins, despite the enormous talent possessed by the big man and they had spent a good portion of the 2016 NBA Draft trying to move up and acquire Hield, who I'm higher on than most out there. Granted, Hield may never end up being a franchise changing two-guard, or a top option on a contender, he is a solid building block and could be an exceptional second-option.
Keeping Cousins in the same conference is a major head-scratcher. Not very often do teams trade a guy that is in the top echelon of his respective position to a foe to a side they will face three-four times a year. In fact, I can only think of Pau Gasol and Chris Paul in recent history where such a trade went down. Not even dumping a bad deal is a bit of a concern as well.
My biggest gripe with the deal on the Kings end is the fact their own first round pick could be headed to Chicago or Philadelphia, making tanking a concern. If it falls outside of the top 10, the pick will be conveyed to the Bulls without anything coming to Sacramento. However, if it falls in the top 10, the Philadelphia 76ers will have the option to swap first rounders, which would leave the Kings with a lottery pick (76ers are 5.5 out of the eight and final playoff slot), but could take them from a top three selection, if they get the right bounce of the ping pong balls, to something around eight.
Follow-up trades will be pretty entertaining to look out for as well, since the Kings have a plethora of veterans teams that are in the playoff picture may be looking for. Evans could be flipped right away, while the Kings could make Matt Barnes, Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay and Anthony Tolliver available for any sort of future compensation.
New Orleans Pelicans Grade: A+
Pelican fan have to be ecstatic. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins may be the best front-court the NBA has had since Timothy Duncan and David Robinson, which worked out pretty well if I recall correctly. Cousins has another year remaining as well, giving the Pels an extended opportunity to take the next step.
With 25-games remaining, the Pelicans are two and a half games out of the eight slot, needing to leapfrog the Portland Trail Blazers, Kings and Denver Nuggets, a task that can be doable, which would set up an entertaining first round match-up against the Warriors, who like to go small with Draymond Green at the five for extended spurts.