The Kings were going to screw up the Cousins deal…the world already knew it
The great Pelican heist of DeMarcus Cousins was committed hours after the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. A long, event-filled yet peaceful NBA weekend turned into mayhem when The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of a completed Boogie-to-New Orleans deal. Every reporter and every hardcore NBA junkie were constantly checking and re-checking Twitter to see what the full details of the trade would be.
What a surprise, the Kings got bamboozled.
Let’s start with the draft picks heading to Sacramento. In a world where 2017 lottery picks are of major value with all of the talent expected to come out, the Kings did their best. In addition to a second round pick, they received a first-round pick which has a top three protection on it if the Pelicans are in the lottery. New Orleans though, should make a push into the playoffs and therefore lessen the value of the pick. This deal also comes as the Kings were at risk of forfeiting their own first round pick to Chicago because of a previous deal, which is top ten protected. Without Cousins, the Kings are very likely to fall into oblivion and secure keeping their own top ten protected pick and not contend for the playoffs.
In retrospect, the Kings could have gone to any team in the lottery and try and get a top projected pick this year. The biggest prize of them all would have been Brooklyn’s first round pick which belongs to Boston, but there was no way in hell Boston would move that asset. Period. End of story. Brooklyn’s pick has a 65% chance to be a top-three pick when the ping pong balls fall in May basically handing Boston Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or one of the other top prospects — aka too much for a player who could blow up the team from the inside. Other top lottery teams might have been willing to part ways with their pick if the Kings weren’t asking for that high pick and multiple assets and expiring contacts. The price was too high for a player who might not fit in with the team, cause 500-plus headaches, or who could opt out and re-up for a five-year, $209 million deal next off-season.
Outside of the horrendous “hull” of draft picks in the deal, Sac-Town received rookie guard Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway. Ready for the embarrassing player “hull?” According to Wojnarowski, Galloway will be waived once the deal is complete, making only his roster spot valuable to the Kings. Tyreke Evans returns to the team that drafted him 4th overall in 2009. Evans fell under the expiring-contract-asset category for which teams that want to dump salary and open the checkbook during the summer look to acquire. Evans gives Sacramento $10.2 million more to spend in July.
The “big prize” of the deal is apparently rookie Buddy Hield. SB Nation noted that this deal happened because the Kings loved Hield “too much.” That is not the ideal way to run a team, in my opinion. There are ways going about acquiring a player you love without showing your hand. Of course this tweet by the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor below doesn’t help the Kings:
It is embarrassing if the Kings could get something of higher value for Cousins because this Pelicans deal is dreadful for the future. Outside of Hield (maybe) developing and keeping their probable top ten pick this year, the Kings screwed themselves. WAIT…but then there is this:
If this tweet is true, what in the world is the Kings front-office thinking? Buddy Hield is just a guy. He will not be a superstar. He will be a floor spacer which fits this spread ’em out NBA but here is a good under-the-radar stat from SB Nation: Cousins has made six more three-pointers than Hield this season. Maybe with more of an opportunity and full-time featured role, Buddy can do something with nothing in Sac-Town. Hield and fellow King, Ben McLemore will have their hands full as the team crumbles around them.
Here though is how we know the Sacramento Kings screwed up the Cousins deal.
Cousins’ toxicity hit its breaking point. We are in what seems to be year three or four of DeMarcus Cousins deadline rumors. Each year the price of acquiring Cousins has most likely lessened because of all the antics. At this point, Vivek (the Kings owner) and Vlade (the GM) took nickels on the dollar when they could have had a full dollar or eighty-five cents on the dollar or even a dollar and change two to three years ago. When a team allows mediocrity to rein and there is institutional failure to create a winning culture (or in Sacramento’s case, any culture), they lose out without a doubt. With no direction and no culture in the process, the Kings are in the cyclical cycle of acquiring average talent and they cannot stop digging their own grave.
I get it that Cousins absolutely had to go, but this trade was abysmal. This is what you have to settle for when the star player is such a risk to another teams’ locker room, despite the level of talent. The Kings lost a chance to get assets worthy of the talent because they let this saga drag out for far too long.
Another major factor coming out of this deal is the complete loss of credibility of Vlade Divac. Earlier this season, Vlade said both publicly and privately to Cousins and his agent that DeMarcus would stay in Sacramento. When Vlade went against his commitment to the teams’ best player, he guaranteed that he will face some form of repercussions from other players and agents that try and work with him. More so from a trust factor. If they cannot trust the general manager, then why would a player sign there? It makes the already unattractive Kings franchise even less attractive.
Hey, at least the Kings have a good asset, their new arena, Golden 1 Center.