After countless rumors and denials, the Sacramento Kings have finally decided to part ways with their enigmatic superstar, DeMarcus Cousins, by trading him to the New Orleans Pelicans. For their massive haul, the Pels are sending the Kings 2016 lottery pick Buddy Hield, former King Tyreke Evans, guard Langston Galloway and a pair of 2017 draft picks. The Pelicans will also be receiving Omri Casspi from the Kings as part of the deal.
The trade has sent waves around the NBA, as Cousins will be set to team up with fellow All-Star big man, Anthony Davis. The former Kentucky Wildcats form an impressively imposing frontcourt duo that can certainly instill some fear in the other teams around the league.
The stigma that has followed Cousins since he entered the league has been his attitude – one that has him leading the league in technical fouls nearly every season – which has been magnified due to the Kings having missed the playoffs in each season of Boogie’s career. Now teamed up with an all-world power forward in Davis, the duo build the foundation of a roster that theoretically should be in contention for a number of years.
Trading away Hield, Evans and Galloway guts a bit of depth for New Orleans, and there’s no telling what management might do as the trade deadline rapidly approaches. Jrue Holiday at the lead guard is a great player when healthy, but the projected starting wings for the Pelicans – E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill – are better suited as rotational players rather than full-time starters on a playoff team.
The next most established player on the Pels roster is another Kentucky alum, Terrence Jones, who plays the same position as Davis and doesn’t have enough outside shooting or off-the-bounce skills to serve as a true wing.
New Orleans would be doing their due diligence to find potential suitors for big men Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik if they can fetch a middling 3-and-D guy for either. Another route they could take would be dangling Jrue Holiday as they have an intriguing replacement in Tim Frazier waiting in the wings, but the return on Holiday may be less than the value in keeping him. Acquiring Cousins makes the Pelicans infinitely times more interesting, but they still face a strong chance of missing the playoffs with the way the roster is currently constructed.
For the Kings, it’s going to be viewed as yet another head-scratching move from an infamously unstable front office. GM Vlade Divac has consistently reiterated that the Kings had no interest in dealing Cousins, and all accounts pointed to Boogie planning to re-sign in the offseason. This leads many to believe that either one side was blatantly lying, or the owners of the Kings had a change of heart and decided that Cousins wasn’t worth the $200 million max contract he was due for.
Either way, Sacramento is back to square one and are now desperately lacking talent. Buddy Hield is a nice piece, but they must be higher on him than other teams to have a deal centered around the 23-year old in exchange for a franchise cornerstone like Cousins. With other intriguing names like Ben McLemore and Darren Collison still on the roster, it’s unlikely that the Kings are done dealing this season and will leave no stone unturned in this full rebuild.
Cousins will don his new jersey for the first time on Thursday in front of a home crowd as the Pelicans take on the Houston Rockets.