As the calendar gets set to turn over to a new year, talks begin to slowly heat up across the NBA as the annual trading deadline rapidly approaches. While it might still be too early for any big deals to happen, the foundations of potential deals are being laid across the league.
One of the most popular names in trade talks over the past few seasons, Sacramento King’s star big man DeMarcus Cousins, remains a name that is continually swirled around NBA circles. While it appears unlikely the Kings will move the big man —at least right now, as they sit in a virtual tie for eighth in the Western Conference— should they crumble like the Kings are known to do, Cousins could be on the move if the right deal presents itself.
In a recent column, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix suggests that the Magic could be a team that could piece together an offer that could intrigue the Kings.
Should things change, Orlando could be a team to watch. The Magic are an oddly constructed bunch, flush with paint-centric bigs and young guards, low on anything resembling a traditional wing. While the rest of the league goes small, Orlando — with its Bismack Biyombo/Serge Ibaka/Aaron Gordon frontcourt — is stuffing the floor with oversized big men with limited range. Meanwhile, Mario Hezonja, the fifth overall pick in 2015, has played spotty minutes, leaving the Magic thin on dynamic floor spacers.
Something has got to give. Cousins wouldn’t solve Orlando’s perimeter problems, but moving a couple of bigs — a Gordon/Nikola Vucevic-headlined package would have to be appealing to the Kings — for a franchise center would at least give the Magic some direction.
Mannix brings up a great point that getting Cousins would give the Magic their franchise player, something they’ve been unable to obtain in the draft, or in trades. While Cousins has proven he can be a go-to player on a night-to-night basis, he’s struggled with putting in a consistent effort on both ends, and making things work with his teammates, a big key to success in any sport.
Making a move for Cousins would also gut the Magic of any true assets they still have remaining, which would limit their ability to improve the team more for a late playoff push, something a Cousins trade would likely signify. Giving up the likes of Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and likely Mario Hezonja and pick(s) to get Cousins — and run the risk of him leaving when his contract is up following next season— could cripple the franchise even more.
Since day one, Rob Hennigan has talked about wanting to make the Magic a team that can win for a sustained period of time. Yet again, potentially, throwing assets away for a year-and-a-half of Cousins would be the worst possible move Hennigan could make on his, likely, already hot seat.
Don’t get me wrong, the addition of Cousins could benefit the Magic, and things could work out very well for all parties involved. It could also backfire completely and blow up in everyones face and cost multiple people their jobs.
At the end of the day, should (read as: when) the Magic make a move this season, acquiring Cousins would likely be against the better good of the franchise. Making some smaller moves and adding players who can fit in with what they have core wise — Evan Fournier, Gordon, Serge Ibaka — could go a longer way for them in both the short- and long-terms.