The Impact of Demarcus Cousins to New Orleans

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

After the recent disaster of the NBA All-Star Game, with nearly 400 points being put up in a game where defense was nonexistent (Steph Curry lying facedown on the floor to avoid getting posterized), Demarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans late last night. The deal sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and a 2017 first and second round pick to Sacramento for Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi.

Steph-Curry-on-the-Floor

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Steph Curry Lying on the Floor to Avoid Being Dunked On

Impact on Sacramento

The deal is very much one sided with the Pelicans coming out as the big winner. The Pelicans pretty much gave away nothing, for a superstar in Demarcus Cousins. If we break it down by each player, we can see why the Kings got robbed. The two main assets in the deal for Sacramento are Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans.

We have already seen Tyreke in Sacramento. He is a solid asset, but his addition will be rendered useless. He will add depth and solidify one starting position, but adding depth to a team without any star power won’t matter. By the time Sacramento could possibly be good (if they ever become good), Evans will be old and will be off the team anyways.

On the other hand, Buddy Hield is a young star with some promise. However, his promise is very limited. He was a late-blooming player in college, with below average athleticism for the NBA. He relied on his ability to shoot in college and hasn’t shown the same accuracy from deep in the NBA, shooting only 37% from three and 39% from the floor. Hield doesn’t have much upside, so what looks like a great asset, because of a recognizable name, is really just a player who has minimal upside and is most likely a role player on a championship team.

I am a huge fan of Buddy and it is well documented that his work ethic is off the charts. I am rooting for this guy and if anyone can prove me and the league wrong, it is him. I hope he does that in Sacramento and can find a starting position, but I don’t see Hield exploding onto the scene or becoming a star down the road.

Buddy-Hield

Buddy Hield Cutting Down the Net After Clinching His Berth to the Final Four (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The other assets are essentially useless for Sacramento. Galloway is a solid player but is a career backup PG. The draft picks are nice, but the chances are they won’t ever help Sacramento. It is a mid-to-late first round pick and a second round pick. It has been tough to get a good player even in the lottery for any organization, much less Sacramento. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult for Sacramento to find good players in the mid-to-late first round and second round. They will not find a star and most likely won’t even find a starting caliber player with those two picks.

In the end, Sacramento is just going to be looking for the next Demarcus Cousins for the next 5 years. I understand moving him if Sacramento thought he was going to leave and they could get a bunch of picks and talent in return, but they didn’t and it seemed like Cousins wanted to stay anyways.

The trade is horrible. With Cousins, they have a shot of landing a star to play with him and becoming good (like the Pelicans did with Davis). There is not much of a difference if Cousins left in free agency for nothing. They are going to be bad in both scenarios. Therefore, Sacramento should have taken their chances with Cousins because they don’t gain anything through this trade, unless Hield becomes a superstar.

And even if Hield does become a superstar or they draft a superstar, they would be in the same situation they are now. They have one superstar with no one else to support him.

The Kings GM, Vlade Divac, who knows all about terrible trades himself (the Kobe trade), defended the move by saying they are looking for high character players in this statement:

“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.”

The character position is understandable, but it doesn’t make sense when Ty Lawson and Matt Barnes are on the roster and it was just over a year ago that he signed Rajon Rondo.

To add to the stupidity of the Kings, Vlade Divac said that he had a better offer two days ago for Cousins. This was said to the entire media. It is not a source saying this, but Vlade himself. It shows how inept and stupidly the Kings are run. It means he accepted the trade on a whim. There wasn’t much calculation or patience behind the deal, which is unacceptable in any case and especially if a franchise player is involved.

Impact on New Orleans

The Pelicans are easily the big winner. Not long ago, there were rumors that Davis and Westbrook were thinking about teaming up in LA in the future. No one knows how accurate those rumors are, but the rumors got everyone’s attention. It put New Orleans in a position to where they needed to find a star to go along with Davis. If they couldn’t do so in the near future, then they run a major risk of losing Anthony Davis to free agency.

Luckily for New Orleans, Cousins fell into their lap for almost nothing making it a no-brainer to take the deal. By no means does it guarantee that New Orleans is going to be great, but the potential is through the roof.

The team dynamic will be interesting to watch. Will Cousin’s character issues go away once he is on a winning team? Remember, he was not an issue at Kentucky when they were dominating the college basketball scene.

In addition, how will Cousins and Davis play with one another? It is not a point guard and big man meshing together, but two 7 footers. It helps that both of them can shoot out to 3 point range, which makes it easier to space the floor and could create some serious mismatches for opposing teams. Furthermore, the league has moved away from having dominant centers. It used to be each championship team needed a dominant big man. But as of recently, the great NBA teams have moved away from that and it has become rare to see a very good 7 footer. Now the Pelicans have two superstar centers, which could become a nightmare for opposing teams.

The future is very bright for the Pelicans, but they are nowhere near the status of a championship contender. They have a dominant front court, but there are still many questions left to be answered regarding chemistry on and off the floor. In addition, they lack talent at the guard positions and will have to pick up a star at that position if they want to compete with the Spurs, Warriors, and Cavs down the line. However, it should become very likely that they will add another superstar to pair with Cousins and Davis. Maybe we will see a player like Westbrook, CP3, or Carmelo join the team in the near future.

In the end, it is a great deal for New Orleans. They are better now because of it, have unlimited potential from Cousins and Davis (if they gel), and have Cousins and Davis to attract a potential superstar down the line to compete for a title.

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