By: Rossy Pasternak
One and a half more seasons.
If I was DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins, I would be repeating that sentence to myself over and over in order to keep me sane.
One and a half more seasons is how much longer Boogie is required to play for the Sacramento Kings franchise. The Kings could in fact have taken the throne of ‘Worst Run Professional Franchise’ from the Miami Marlins, that’s how corrupt and bigoted they have been over the past few years. Without a doubt, since being drafted, Boogie and the Kings have been a controversial topic for all throughout the NBA’s inner circle.
A unique talent who arrived a few years before the NBA’s big-man revolution, Cousins’ career has been mired by controversy. On the court, many executives and media members have constantly found ways to criticize Cousins’ play. Off the court, Cousins has been battling with the media on a day-to-day basis. Because of these constant altercations with media and coaches, Cousins has developed a reputation as a poison, similar to Dwight Howard. Boogie has accrued over a million dollars of fines in his 6 years of NBA experience, and a total of 10 games sat out due to suspension. Those suspensions and fines are scary to team executives on their own, but add in the lack of team success Boogie has experienced in the NBA, and you have an interesting case of a top-10 NBA player – I think it is more than reasonable to call Cousins this – whose team cannot win.
But how much of that is on Boogie, and how much of these struggles are on circumstance and the Kings?
Cousins has had six coaches in his six year career so far. Some coaching changes have been due to disputes with Cousins, such as George Karl and Paul Westphal, but most have been due to either impatience from management, or the fact that it was the wrong hiring from the get-go. Karl could fall into that category as well, as the hiring was subject to major criticism from the second it was announced. Actually, the only coach who Cousins thrived with and enjoyed working with was Mike Malone. Malone was fired 24 games into his second season with the team, when he finally had them playing some good basketball. The reason for his firing was the win-loss column, although much of the teams’ struggles were due to the absence of Cousins, who was struggling with injuries at the time of the firing.
The instability the Kings have shown since Boogie’s draft year is not limited to the sidelines either. Cousins has been placed alongside multiple sidekicks through his 6 years in Sac-Town, ranging from Tyreke Evans, to Isaiah Thomas, to Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay. None of those players, maybe with the exception of Thomas who has been exceptional in Boston, are considered good fits alongside Cousins. Recently, the Kings have decided to pursue an interesting strategy to building around Cousins. The team has been stacking up on centres, the position Cousins plays, through the draft and free-agency. It almost seems as though the Kings are preparing for life without Cousins, which doesn’t make sense considering top executive Vlade Divac has denied shopping the All-Star big man.
Here’s where things become interesting though: what if the Kings traded Cousins? What would a trade for Cousins look like? Would anyone want him?
As I have noted, Cousins has only one season left on his deal after this current one. What that means is that his value will only decrease with every day the Kings keep him. For a team like the Boston Celtics, trading for Cousins next season wouldn’t make sense, as they could sign him outright without needing to give up any valuable trade assets. Another thing that makes trading Cousins now – as opposed to next season – more attractive, is the fact that the teams who are contending and would be interested in making a deal for Cousins are also the teams with the most valuable assets. Going back to the Celtics, they have the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 1st-round pick this year, which is likely to be a top-3 pick. The trade market is ripe for a superstar to be moved, and the Kings happen to have the superstar that is most wanted around the league.
Any deal involving Cousins will bring a huge return to the Kings organization. As a top talent in the Association, teams will be willing to pony up valuable assets for the dominant centre, even with his vices. A return would likely bring back two or three rotation players – at least one with really good potential – and at least one first round pick. From Boston, this could be any of PG Marcus Smart, SG Avery Bradley, SF Jae Crowder, PF Amir Johnson, and C Kelly Olynyk, as well as Brooklyn’s unprotected first round pick. The most likely trio out of those five players is Smart, Crowder, and Johnson, as Smart and Crowder are high-level role players with potential – and backups ready to replace them – and Johnson is a high-energy guy on a one-year deal. The real prize here is the Brooklyn pick, likely a top-3 selection, in a loaded draft class. With a deal in front of our faces that makes sense for both sides, and has been rumoured since the summer, why hasn’t it happened yet? Well, Boston is reluctant to part with 2 of Crowder, Smart, and Bradley, who play vital roles in the teams backcourt. Also, Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadive are very reluctant to trade such a good player in their first year in a new arena.
One other reason no trade has been made, or has been close to being made, so far is Boogie’s market. The Celtics by-far have the most assets to deal for Cousins, and the other teams such as the Raptors and Lakers don’t have as many high-value assets as them. This is important because the Celtics therefore don’t have to offer all of their assets in order to beat their competitors. This is bad for the Kings, as they don’t want to sell Cousins for less than what he is worth.
At this time, the league is still sorting through who are contenders, pretenders, and potential tankers. The Kings are in the midst of this, as they are currently sitting in the final playoff spot out West. As the season goes by and the standings become more clear, there will likely be a resolution to the DeMarcus Cousins saga in Sacremento. Until then, all we can do is wait.
Have any opinions on the Boogie Cousins debate? Any ideas for where he could go in a trade? If he even will be traded? Let us know in the comment section, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages!