The Sacramento Kings surprised the NBA world Sunday night when they agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins—a 26-year-old perennial All-Star averaging 27.8 points and 10.7 rebounds on 56.2 percent True Shooting—to the New Orleans Pelicans for, uh, not much. Even acknowledging that it’s nearly impossible to get equal value for a player of Cousins’ caliber, the Kings could have done better than Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and two future NBA Draft picks.
Kings GM Vlade Divac even admitted as much, saying during a Monday news conference he had a better offer for Cousins “two days ago.” Yikes.
The low value of New Orleans’ package for Cousins has fans of the Orlando Magic—and, yes, fans of almost every NBA team—asking, “why didn’t we make that trade?”
Well, by Ric Bucher’s account, the Magic could have: Friday the veteran NBA scribe reported for Bleacher Report that Orlando had worked out the parameters of a deal for Cousins, but ultimately backed out due to concerns about Cousins’ attitude and the potential of having to offer him a maximum-salary extension worth in excess of $200 million in the summer of 2018.
So we are setting aside the question of could Orlando have traded for Cousins. The question I’m more interested in hearing this community’s thoughts on is should it have.
Using the Pelicans’ winning trade offer as a guide, we can speculate that Orlando might—might!—have been able to land Cousins with a package of Mario Hezonja, Jeff Green, and at least one future NBA Draft pick. In this hypothetical scenario, Hezonja represents Hield as a young wing prospect—although, to be fair, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé is reportedly smitten with Hield and thus may not view Hezonja as highly—and Green stands for Evans and Galloway as salary ballast. The Magic may not have even needed to surrender their own 2017 NBA Draft pick in this hypothetical deal, instead substituting the one they received from the Toronto Raptors in the Serge Ibaka trade a week earlier.
In your opinion, would the risk of Orlando’s taking on Cousins, with his reputedly difficult personality, looming free agency, and high dollar value associated with that free agency, outweigh the reward of having a superstar around whom to build over the next year-plus? Let’s talk it out in the comments.