With the Sacramento Kings seemingly flipping their stance on the future of DeMarcus Cousins in the span of a few hours, the New Orleans Pelicans pounced to land the superstar big man.
The trade rumors began to circulate during the NBA All-Star game, but they were shot down after sources inside the Kings organization said that the front office told Cousin’s agent that he would not be traded. A few hours later, ‘Boogie’ was in fact traded, and based on reports, that news came out of left field for Cousin’s camp.
He’ll now join Anthony Davis to form what could be the best frontcourt in the entire NBA. This trade was a king’s ransom for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi from the Kings for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, a 2017 first round pick and a 2017 second round pick. The Kings actually accepted this deal despite the Pelicans putting a top-three protection on the pick. Again, an absolute steal of a deal for New Orleans.
Despite the Pelicans netting Cousin’s for pennies on the dollar, the Celtic’s made the right move by passing on him. Reportedly, Brad Stevens did not want to coach him, and Cousin’s defunct personality would not fit into Boston’s culture.
This also shows that the front office is thinking ahead instead of banking on winning right now. A deal for Cousin’s would’ve cost the Celtics more than what the King’s eventually settled on from New Orleans. We’re talking Bradley/Crowder, likely Brown, a low-end rotation player such as Rozier, the 2017 Brooklyn pick and likely at least one pick in 2018.
In the end, this deal would’ve hurt the Celtic’s future flexibility and also forced them into win now mode. The front office is realistic, understanding that it’s going to be an uphill battle to unseat the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers from the top of the league, and that’s going to continue for at least the next few seasons.
DeMarcus Cousins will hit free agency during the summer of 2018 and the Pelicans can only offer him as much money as every other team in the league. Reportedly, his agent has said that Cousins will test the market, so Boston can continue to monitor him and decide if he’s worth it in 2018.
The Celtics also get to keep their future cap flexibility as well as their highly coveted draft picks. It seems like they’re betting on Chicago or Indiana eventually pulling the trigger on Jimmy Butler or Paul George, and the Celtics have had high interest in both of those guys for awhile.
If those players do not become available, Danny Ainge is comfortable taking one of the top prospects in the draft for the second year in a row. He’ll also have the flexibility to chase his big fish in Gordon Hayward during free agency this summer. Hayward played under Brad Stevens at Butler and the two have a great relationship, plus, Utah hasn't been a contender during his career there. They've only made the playoffs one time in his six seasons and were quickly dispatched in a sweep by the Spurs. Utah is on pace to hold a top-four seed in the Western Conference Playoffs this season. He would have to turn down a ton of money, but Hayward could want a change of scenery where he can get back to competing and winning. What better place to do that than under your former coach who helped lead you to a national championship appearance in college.
Danny Ainge wants to build a team like the San Antonio Spurs, one that’s in contention for a championship every year. The window would’ve shortened if they would’ve broken the bank for Cousins, and the bank would’ve broken again in 2018 when Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Bradley, and Cousins were all up for contract extensions.
Though it may be a bit boring to a fanbase that has been expecting fireworks since 2014, Danny Ainge’s patience is going to pay off on his quest to turn the Boston Celtics back into a contender.