Pelicans Aquire DeMarcus Cousins in Blockbuster Trade
In a move that shocked many, the Sacramento Kings have reportedly decided to part ways with embattled center DeMarcus Cousins. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, the Kings have shipped Cousins and swingman Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for guards Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans. Sacramento also picked up the Pelicans’ first- and second-round picks in the upcoming draft.
Rumors regarding the Kings’ interest in moving Cousins really began to heat up on Sunday night before a deal was commenced around midnight. The timing is particularly surprising considering recent public overtures from general manager Vlade Divac that Cousins would not be dealt prior to the upcoming deadline.
Why Trade Cousins Now?
The Kings actually won four of their last five games heading into the All-Star break and are currently just a game-and-a-half out of the final playoff spot in the West. Still, it seems clear that Cousins’ reportedly temperamental locker room persona was something the Kings had grown weary with in recent weeks. Despite being one of the most talented and productive players at any position in the league, Sacramento made the decision to cut bait as soon as possible.
Cousins would have been eligible for a contract extension this summer worth in excess of $200 million had he remained with the Kings. He had made it public in the past that he would prefer to spend his entire career in Sacramento, but team owner Vivek Ranadive balked at the opportunity to continue to try to build a winner around Cousins.
Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Kings are also hoping to effectively tank the rest of this season due to draft pick implications. If Sacramento’s first-round draft pick falls outside the top 10, they will be forced to convey it to the Chicago Bulls as a result of a disastrous 2011 trade involving J.J. Hickson. If the pick falls somewhere in the top 10, the Kings will keep it for another year.
Parting ways with your best player would appear to be a smart way to stop winning so many games, and the Kings are going to need all the help they can get via the draft in the coming seasons if they plan on getting back to respectability.
What’s In It For the Pelicans?
Cousins has endured his fair share of on-and-off-the-court problems over the years, but his status as one of the league’s 10 or 20 best players is essentially indisputable. He will be under contract through next season, so the Pelicans will have about 100 regular season games to try and convince the talented big man to commit to staying in New Orleans long-term. The Pels will be able to offer him a five-year extension worth about $179 million in the summer of 2018.
New Orleans had reportedly been seeking an offensive-minded center to pair with superstar forward Anthony Davis, and Cousins most certainly fits the bill. Now, in the age of pace-and-space and small ball, the Pelicans will boast the most fearsome front court twosome the league has to offer.
Davis had publicly voiced his relative displeasure with the way this season has gone for the Pels, but this move clearly makes them the odds-on favorite to rise up and nab that final playoff spot in the West. They went into the All-Star break in the No. 11 spot in the conference, though they still sit only two-and-a-half games behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth position.
If the combination of Davis and Cousins is able to propel the Pelicans into the postseason, it will almost surely set up an incredibly enticing first-round showdown with the Golden State Warriors.
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