As the NBA All-Star Game wound down, the rumors popped up that the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins would finally part ways. There were lots of rumors, but when the dust settled the Kings had moved Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans. The haul? Buddy Hield, a first round pick*, a second round pick, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway. That asterisk? The first rounder is top 1-3 protected, so if the Pelicans do somehow miss the playoffs, and somehow get a top-three pick, the Kings don’t get it. Baffling. The whole thing is baffling, really.
Why is the pick top-three protected? Why send Omri? To make the salaries match? Then why send Galloway back just to waive him? Why get the extra players when the Kings turned around and waived Matt Barnes, eating his salary, to make space? Each piece is astounding, but every layer you pull back you find an even dumber layer underneath. The Nuggets got two first round picks for Timofey Mozgov, the net for this deal is one first rounder, a second rounder, and an old rookie. It’s just a bad trade.
There are people squealing that the Kings never won with Boogie. The Kings never won without Boogie. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006 when Cousins was just 15 years old. They drafted him in 2011, what about the years before that? And the years since? The franchise was a joke, remains a joke, and had the most dominant big man in the NBA ready to stick around for the long haul. And they trade him. For peanuts.
The argument that the Kings “can’t win with Boogie,” or “didn’t win anything with Boogie,” is specious. Let’s peep their first rounders since Vivek Ranadive took over:
2016: Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere
2015: Willie Cauley-Stein
2014: Nik Stauskas
They also threw cash at Kosta Koufos. The Kings decided to surround the best big man in the league with… more big men? The front office who decided to go out and stock up on nothing but big men while the point guard and shooting guard situation floundered is now tasked with building a team around nothing. There’s no center piece. Rudy Gay is all but gone. The issue was not that the Sacramento Kings could not win with Cousins, it’s that Cousins was the only thing keeping them from being a complete laughingstock a la Brooklyn.
The team is blowing it up and starting all over. That’s fine, the only issues are that the front office is run by complete amateurs at best and total rubes at worst. The Kings traded away first rounders, then decided to tank. They went all-in on a playoff run in their new arena, then blew it up when it was within reach. They have no direction, and they can’t stay a course for more than a few months. And these are the men Kings fans are trusting with a rebuild.
Those who say the Kings couldn’t win with Cousins are tacitly saying: “I trust a franchise who couldn’t build a competent roster around one of the most difficult to guard players in the NBA to build a competent roster without him.”
Most of this falls to the enigmatic Vivek Ranadive, who may always be the smartest man in the room (unless you believe the adage that the smart man knows what he doesn’t know). It was Ranadive’s obsession with Buddy Hield that had the Kings tabling other offers to focus on the Pelicans’ offer. He thinks he has Steph Curry potential (his own words). Oh, and Ranadive has no NBA scouting background if that helps.
By trading Cousins, the Kings have drastically altered their future, and for the worse. Nobody can trust their word anymore, as they were committed to keeping Cousins as recently as two weeks ago. They publicly stated that fact, as they were taking trade offers. Ultimately, they accept a deal so terrible that 2K17’s AI wouldn’t even accept it.
Frankly, the trade is indefensible, as the Kings cast off the best player they’ve had since Chris Webber for pieces. They’ve turned gold into trash, in some sort of mystical reverse-Midas situation. They now reboot the franchise, again, and hope that they can turn that trash back into gold. They moved a win in the lottery (Cousins), for more spins at the wheel. With Cousins and Davis in tow, the Pelicans are headed towards the playoffs, so the Kings can’t even get a good pick for Cousins.
Congratulations, Sacramento Kings, you won’t be mired in the 8-10 range in the Western Conference any longer. You’re going to be worse than that, and worse for a long, long time.