In a move that a lot of people thought would never happen, the Sacramento Kings have traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal ends Cousins long, tumultuous relationship with Sacramento and will pair him with Anthony Davis which instantly will make them the best front court in the NBA. The long term ramifications of this deal are fascinating, but in the short term this might give New Orleans a window to grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They currently sit 2.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for the final playoff spot.
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Unfortunately for Cousins, this move is going to cost him quite a bit of money thanks to the new CBA. Details from NBC Sports:
Cousins stands to miss out on a lot of money — about $30 million or more — due to this trade. Because he made All-NBA teams the last two seasons, he was eligible to sign a designated-veteran-player contract extension this summer. As a matter of fact, he reportedly planned to do just that with Sacramento reportedly planning to offer it. That extension projected to be worth $209,090,000 over five years ($41,818,000 annually). But, once officially dealt, Cousins will no longer be eligible for that super-max extension. It’s reserved for players still with their original team or who changed teams only via trade during their first four years.
That said, this is a much better basketball situation for him. Anthony Davis immediately becomes the best teammate he’s ever had and Jrue Holiday isn’t that far behind for the second best teammate he’s ever had. The offense will be pretty interesting as him and Davis do a lot of the same things which might clog the paint, but the thing about great players is that they tend to figure things out.
It’s hard to talk about Cousins without mentioning his attitude issues. Playing with better teammates will help. Playing with a less dysfunctional organization will help. Playing for a respected coach like Alvin Gentry will help. Being in a real city will help. Playing with a fellow Kentucky grad that he knows will help. You just have to give this guy a second chance and this is a great place for it.
The Pelicans are losing a lot of minutes here from the guard position as Hield, Galloway and Evans combined for 58 minutes per game, but they shouldn’t be as hurt as much as you think. E’Twaun Moore and Tim Frazier should see the bulk of the minutes with Solomon Hill and Casspi slotting in on the wing. The odd men out here could be Terrence Jones, Dante Cunningham and Donatas Motiejunas in the front court. There will simply be a huge gap in minutes with Cousins in the equation now. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pellys look to move one of these for shooting help at guard.
For the Kings, this is now the Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein show. That won’t be pretty and it might not be pretty for a long time, but the Cousins era is now over and if some of these behind the scenes stories are to be believed: that might be worth it to them.
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