The NBA trade deadline is drawing near and it was only a matter of time before a trade was announced that rocked the whole landscape of the league. Just as the All-Star weekend festivities drew to a close in New Orleans, the news broke that the Sacramento Kings pulled the trigger on a trade that sends Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a future lottery protected first round pick (pick 1-3), and a future second round pick.
This trade sees Demarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins team up with former Kentucky teammate and fellow Western Conference All-Star Anthony Davis. The best centre in the league joins up with the best power forward on a team three wins out of the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.47 blocks per game this year, whereas Boogie is tallying 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 blocks himself. The gap in the standings between the Pelicans and those above them just got a whole lot shorter, especially considering one of those franchises is the Sacramento Kings.
In Boogie, the New Orleans get the perfect compliment to Anthony Davis who has repeatedly stated he prefers to play power forward instead of centre. Boogie is a centre who is a monster in the paint; he is better built to withstand the physical toll that comes with the position. This also frees up Davis to be looming out on the floor more, and as the league’s most deadly shot blocker, he is going to cause havoc for his opponents.
Another major upside for the Pelicans is they didn’t lose any integral pieces of their team in this trade. Shipping off a struggling rookie in Hield, an injury prone Tyreke Evans and a role player in Galloway sees the core of the side remain essentially untouched. Providing much needed solidity for a club attempting to win in the present, not plan forward for a future crack.
Two bigs who can play the 4 and the 5 spot, hit 3’s at a high rate, take it the basket off the dribble and dominate in the paint could see the creation of the perfect small ball counter team. With Davis a mere 23-years of age and Cousins only 26, they have time on their side. But on the surface this could be the making of one of the most dominate front court partnerships in the league’s recent memory.
For the Sacramento Kings it’s blatantly clear they didn’t receive anywhere near as much as you would like for a player of Demarcus’s caliber. On that front, they mismanaged Demarcus Cousins and the rest of their franchise for a number of years.
Following a string of strange draft picks and bad free agency signings, this caused the relationship between Boogie and those at head office to reach a toxic level. With the new CBA allowing franchise superstars to new long terms deals in excess of $200 million, they decided the time had come to part ways with Cousins.
The Pelicans on the other hand were in the market for Jahlil Okafor with a similar crop of players but somehow managed to pull Cousins out of the hat, which speaks volumes about the price at which they got him.
Starting with a clean slate was always going to be the best approach for the Kings, moving into a new stadium and using the Cousins trade to make serious change to their roster. Did they receive enough in order to do this successfully? Not necessarily.
Another future first round pick seems as though it may have sweetened this deal for Sacramento, as the first round pick they did receive is for the upcoming 2017 Draft. To outline how obscure this deal is, with every game the Pelicans win from now on, the draft pick and the lottery odds attached hurt their standing.
To be fair this upcoming draft is quoted to be one of the deeper in recent years, particularly at the guard position. With players such as Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball up for grabs, this pick will be what makes or breaks this deal for Sacramento.
A budding franchise corner stone is potentially within grasp in this draft, and if the Kings are planning a rebuild this season, it is a good one to try do so. But with as shocking a draft track records as the Kings have, it’s hard to be confident in their ability to get this pick right.
One of the players the Kings do receive in the trade is rookie Buddy Hield – the 6th pick in the 2016 draft. Known in College as an explosive scorer, Heild has the potential to be a productive NBA player. Yet a slow start to life in the association to average 8.6 points during 20.4 minutes per game doesn’t give the Kings a high return for the best centre in the league.
Apart from the clear potential of Hield, a questionable first round pick and a future 2nd round pick, the Kings received Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway. Neither will set the world alight but they will give you minutes from night to night. They can be used down the line as trade assets, although these acquisitions are what they are.
So this trade simultaneously provides back up for two of the most talented players in the league who were each desperately in need of a running mate. They turn a new page in the history books of a franchise that mismanaged their superstar for a number of years and was in need of a new direction all at the same time.
Whether this trade is the key for them is unclear, but the first signs say it is unlikely. And as it stand the Pelicans have strengthened their roster immensely through one of the cheapest deals in the NBA’s recent history and the race for the playoffs and up coming draft just got that little bit more interesting.