Brows before Cous!

Published by Yoshi on 20th February - 23:35 (CET)
Well, well, well, 2017 turned out to actually be the year, folks. No, unfortunately not the year that people started playing anything resembling defense at the All-Star Game, but the year that DeMarcus Cousins and his peachy attitude were finally shipped out of Sacramento, as was reported on Sunday by Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Kings send Cousins along with Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway along with a future first and second round draft pick, pairing the dominant big man with his fellow Kentucky alumnus and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis.

Before analyzing the trade further we just want to send a prayer to Tyreke and his family on this sad day that sees him returning to basketball hell after already escaping it once in 2013. Keep your head up, Ty, we know you'll get through this and return to the NBA one day!

Now, some key takeaways from the trade:

No stars will be seen in Sacramento any time soon
Maybe the most important aspect of this trade for the Kings is not the players involved in the trade itself, but rather the message being sent to everyone else. Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac has multiple times this year publicly ensured everyone that DMC will not be shipped out of Sacto any time soon and that the organization plans to sign him to an extension when time comes. Reportedly he confirmed this stance as late as 40 minutes before the trade happened, with DeMarcus himself being seemingly caught completely off guard as he got the news whispered to him in front of reporters during a post-game interview. Say what you will about Cousins but he is one of the most talented big men of all time and the face of the Kings franchise, and parting with him in this fashion is not likely to convince any superstar free agents that Sacramento is the place to go. The Kings better hope that they strike gold with those draft picks they got, otherwise there will be a long drought in the Cali capital when it comes to quality basketball.

Pelicans are heavy fliers
Cousins and Davis will be a complete beast in the frontcourt and arguably the most dominant big man duo since Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Since Shaq did it in 2002 no one has managed to average 27 points and ten rebounds in a full season. This year both AD and DMC have those averages! Imagine the match-up nightmares opposing coaches will face in today's era of small-ball when those two are on the court together. But, with that being said, the match-ups might become an issue the other way as well. While Davis certainly can hold his own against most traditional power forwards, it might be tough for him to check a smaller, quicker SF-gone-PF like Kevin Durant or Draymond Green while Cousins is wrestling with Zaza Pachulia under the rim. Teams might use smaller line-ups and push the pace to force coach Alvin Gentry to sit one of his giants. Which side gets the bigger advantage from these match-ups remains to be seen, but it will surely be a breath of fresh air in this era of basketball to have two big men of this quality on the same team.

A King's perspective
While you never know who gets the better end of any trade until some time has passed, it is hard not to feel that the Kings could have come away with more than they did. DeMarcus' averages the past two years sum up to 27.3 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG and 1.4 BPG with 1.4 made threes per game also added to his repertoire. This is a versatility in production that you see once in a generation at best, and to trade that for the decent but constantly injured Evans along with two subpar performers in Hield and Galloway and a couple of draft picks can't be considered a good deal. In fact Divac himself said that there was a better deal on the table just a couple of days ago. Despite all of Cousins' problems there cannot have been a shortage of teams willing to bet on them being able to provide the environment change that the troubled center would need to get his career on track. The Kings may have gotten rid of that thorn in their foot, but they might have cut their leg off to do so.

Nawlins now
On paper there is no denying that the Pelicans are an improved team as a result of this trade. Unfortunately for them basketball is not played on paper and personalities aren't written in statistics. While pairing DMC with AD can, as described above, bring some real basketball success, one has to wonder if bringing along a troubled and immature big man really is the right move for a team peeking into the Playoffs while at the same time preparing for the future. Are Cousins and Davis enough to propel the team up the standings this season and qualify for the Playoffs? Maybe. Is the surrounding personnel up for the challenge to make some noise in a potential post-season? Not even close. In other words, the Pelicans don't have a choice but to think about next year even more than they focus on 2017, because sooner or later Davis will get tired of playing for a bottom-half team in the West, and when that happens they're in serious trouble. Should this gamble with DMC not pay off, Davis' frustration might be accelerated as he, like anyone else with half a brain, understands that a strong leader and floor general (did somebody say Russell?) would be a better complement to his own game and fill a more obvious need on the Pelicans' roster.

What does the crystal ball say?
While I am personally not a big fan of DeMarcus Cousins due to his attitude which, at 26 years of age, might have less to do with immaturity and more with stupidity at this point, I am also very open to the possibility that the attitude is a result of a terrible environment and that a change of scenery can be the motivation he needs to clean his act up. If that is the case the Pelicans might be another one or two moves away from being a true powerhouse in the West for years to come. Should it be so that DMC's attitude issues remain, the Pels can use the rest of '16-'17 as an experiment and dangle his lucrative cheaper-than-Allan-Crabbe-$18m guarantee for the next season in front of suitors willing to take their chance on a beast for hire. I would be surprised if reality proves option A to be the case, and quite frankly believe that the New Orleans front office made this move with option B in mind from the beginning. Imagine them pulling off a swap to bring back Chris Paul to Louisiana in the off-season while dumping the headache of DeMarcus' upcoming free agency on the Clippers - now that's worth enduring a few technical fouls and hissy fits for while the cash registers are kept busy with fans wanting to see the new Twin Towers.

In the end we will have to wait and see what the future will bring for Brow Wow Wow and The Boogie, but we are sure glad to see a trade of this magnitude pulled off a few days before the deadline. Hopefully this will light a fire under other teams' booties and we get to see another few big moves rearrange the NBA landscape for the final few months of the season. We need some distractions to make us forget that there is only one contender this season.

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