The National Basketball Association is currently in shock after the New Orleans Pelicans made a blockbuster trade with the Sacramento Kings to bring star DeMarcus Cousins to the Big Easy. At first glance, this trade seems painfully one-sided. In exchange for Boogie (Cousins’ alias), the Kings received Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a top three protected 2017 first-round pick and a future second-round pick. This is not exactly a fair deal, but there are more factors to this trade than just assets given and received.
Cousins is easily one of the most talented big men in the NBA and led his team in every major category except steals, a stat he was less than 0.2 spg from leading. Despite his talent and performances, the Kings still sit a game and a half outside of the eighth seed spot in the West. If they keep Boogie on the roster, they’ll continue fighting for a playoff spot they may or may not get. After that, it seems they would probably have resigned the big man for a five-year max contract worth somewhere around $200 million after the increased salary cap. Next year, they would have no cap space to sign good free agents, rookies with potential or another star player.
Moving forward, it becomes clear the Kings are focused more on future assets. Hield, a 23-year-old shooting guard, may have been shaky in his rookie season, but he shows decent promise. Evans, originally drafted by the Kings, can play at an NBA level but seems to be injured more often than not. Galloway is a point guard just a step above the D-League who only occasionally gets hot. The 2017 first-round pick is protected, and unless the second-round pick turns out to be Jimmy Butler or Isiah Thomas, it won’t be too much help. The Kings’ situation continues to look worse and worse.
However, if Hield develops, Evans stays healthy and Sacramento snags a couple good draft picks, their rebuild could be less painful than anticipated. On the flip side, the Pelicans lose two shooters, of which they were already short, and another draft pick to put around the immensely talented Anthony Davis. In return, they got an attitude and a less-than-ideal contract situation. Cousins is set to become a free agent after the 2017-2018 season, and his agent publicly said he would not resign for any team that traded for him. If Boogie refuses to gel with Davis and the Pelicans’ small ball system, it could really backfire on New Orleans, leaving them with no picks in this draft and out three players. Yet, in an ideal world, the Pelicans could have the best front court in the league this year.
At second glance, the Kings might not have made the worst deal in the world, especially being caught between Boogie and a hard place. Focusing on the trade and not speculation, though, the Pelicans got a steal for an all-star and hopefully found someone who can keep Davis with the franchise. New Orleans definitely comes out on top.