On Sunday, the NBA All-Star Game was overshadowed by a blockbuster trade involving DeMarcus Cousins.
The three-time All-Star, along with Omri Casspi, was sent from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round draft pick and a 2017 second-round pick.
On the surface, it appeared as though the Kings got absolutely fleeced in the deal.
However, digging below the surface, the trade not only makes a whole lot of sense for Sacramento, but it sets them up for a much more prosperous future.
Here are some reasons why.
To say that Cousins was difficult to deal with off the court in Sacramento would be a massive understatement.
Other than his technical foul issues on the court, whether it was clashing with team officials, coaches, or reporters, it seemed as though Cousins wasn’t going to change his ways.
Shortly after the trade, general manager Vlade Divac offered the following statement to the media.
"It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization," Divac said in the release. "Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud."
By saying “character matters”, it was a clear indictment against Cousins.
Kings television commentator Grant Napear added the following tidbit which further calls Cousins’ character into question.
As someone who has unlimited access to the team’s players, he seems like a trustworthy source.
Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported that his recent outburst after a win against the Golden State Warriors as well as his technical foul issue both contributed to his departure.
Therefore, ridding the locker room of a clearly divisive player will likely have positive effects in both the short run and the long run.
His on-court outbursts have also hurt the team.
His 19 technical fouls lead the NBA and he’s had at least 12 in each of his first seven seasons in the league. He’s also earned four disqualifications this year and 46 over his career, plus 11 total ejections.
Now, a new culture begins in Sacramento without Cousins as the face of the roster, even considering the fact that he’s a top-15 player in the NBA.
Ridding themselves of Cousins’ hefty salary of $16,784,031 for next season, the Kings are in solid shape financially headed into next season.
Considering the fact that the salary cap is expected to be approximately $102 million next year, it’s important to note that if both Rudy Gay and Langston Galloway accept their player options (which isn’t expected for Gay), the total team salaries on the books would be $75,418,991.
Therefore, there’d be a lot of room to sign a high-profile free agent or some mid-range talents who could come in and produce right away.
If Gay were to decline the option, they’d be left with around $41 million to play with, thus creating the possibility of creating a quick turnaround.
Matt Barnes was waived Tuesday and, if another team picks him up on the waiver wire, the Kings would not be responsible for his salary for the rest of this year or the $6.4 million he's owed next year.
Therefore, there’s a lot that can happen with that kind of room now that Boogie is gone.
A full rebuild
Cousins was having the best season of his career stats-wise for the Kings this season. Averaging 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, he’s simply been one of the best frontcourt players in the NBA from a pure basketball sense.
However, he also averaged 20.3 field goal attempts and 10.0 free throw attempts per game, which is a testament to how much he had the ball in his hands.
On a roster with a number of young players, it was obvious that they were playing on Cousins’ team, which didn’t happen to be a true “team basketball” style.
Now that Cousins is gone, the team can move forward and create a new identity.
Unproven players like Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, and Willie Cauley-Stein will be given opportunities to prove themselves.
Newcomer Buddy Hield, who Kings owner Vivek Ranadive related to Steph Curry, will likely be given an instant starting role.
Fellow newcomers Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans, who had a previous stint in Sacramento, will also receive a lot of playing time.
Youngsters Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere might also see increased run.
Veterans Kosta Koufos, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver and Arron Afflalo are all under contract through next season.
However, a new era begins for the Kings.
With Cousins, there seemingly was a cap that the organization felt was limiting their success.
Now, with an undefined identity, the future is exciting and unknown, thus opening the door for a complete overhaul if need be.
While the trade on the surface looks lopsided (and you can make the argument that Sacramento could have gotten much more in return), you have to understand that other than receiving two draft picks, the Kings got back some interesting players.
Buddy Hield was one of the most dynamic collegiate players in recent memory at Oklahoma and has sky-high potential as a scorer at the NBA level. He was not unleashed for the Pelicans this season, where he found himself as a victim of a crowded backcourt.
He put up 8.6 points in just 20.4 minutes per game through 57 games in New Orleans.
Evans, who has been on a minutes restriction in the 26 games he’s played in after recovering from an injury, has put up 9.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists through just 18.2 minutes per game.
During his rookie season with the Kings in 2009-2010, he put up 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game through 37.2 minutes. While he might not be the same player today, the 27-year-old can still be a legitimate and versatile starter when healthy.
Galloway, who has been a reserve for the Pelicans this season after playing the two previous seasons on the New York Knicks, has put up 8.6 points through 20.4 minutes per contest in 55 games this year. He’s also 25-years-old and has shown a great deal of promise when he has started games and has seen increased court time.
Therefore, these guys are no slouches and each has a certain deal of potential.
There’s a lot that goes into creating a new, winning culture.
Take Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs for example. He doesn’t have the best or most talented players year-after-year, but the Spurs have won 50-plus games and five championships over the last 17 seasons.
Just as much as basketball talent matters, creating and cultivating team basketball with high standards on and off the court matters.
And by trading away DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings took their first step in doing just that.News Now - Sport News