It's Time to Trade DeMarcus Cousins: For Kevin Love?


The Sacramento Kings have had a multitude of slogans over the years, from "Here We Rise" to "Passion for Purple". Since the start of the 2014 season, the catchphrase has been "Sacramento Proud". The irony is obvious. There hasn't been a whole lot to be proud of in Sac-Town for the better part of a decade. 

Since 2006, the Kings have won 36 percent of their games. They have gone through seven different head coaches (new comer Dave Joerger makes eight), and were on the brink of relocating to Seattle just four years ago. The moves made by the front office have been mostly questionable if not terrible, in regards to both contract negotiations and drafting. The only bright spot and potential reason to be "Sacramento Proud" has been ultra-talented big man DeMarcus Cousins. 

Widely regarded as the most talented big man in the NBA, Cousins has been a force. He averaged 27 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season, and was selected to his second straight All-Star team. His athleticism makes him almost unstoppable, and his footwork is top notch. He is a good passer and is improving his shooting, both from mid-range and the 3-point line. He is undoubtedly the best player to wear a Kings uniform since Chris Webber departed in 2005. Kings fans have been proud to have one of best players in the game wear the hometown purple and black.

Despite his statistical success, and to the chagrin of much of the fanbase, it is time for the Kings to trade DeMarcus Cousins. 

The Courious Case of DeMarcus Cousins is a puzzling one. For as many positive traits that Cousins has, there are an equal number of negatives. He is known for being a hot head, obtaining more technical fouls than any other player since he was drafted in 2010. He acts as though every foul call is a personal slight against him, and he displays those emotions nightly. Coach Paul Westphal sent him home from a game in his second season, after which Westphal remarked that Cousins was "unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team." The following season, Cousins was suspended twice: once for two games for confronting Spurs analyst Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner", and another two games for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team." 

He is known as a coach killer. The Kings have employed six coaches in the past six years, which happens to be the exact length of Cousins' tenure with the team. The only coach that Cousins had an amicable relationship was Mike Malone, who was inexplicably fired in 2014 after a solid-for-the-Kings 11-13 record to begin the season. The firing of Malone proved to be a turning point in the development of DeMarcus Cousins, as he publicly clashed with George Karl, Malone's eventual replacement. What his relationship with Dave Joerger will be like is yet to be seen. 

 

Cousins has also been criticized for his laziness on the court. He is often caught jogging, or even walking, back on both offensive and defensive possessions. He often takes himself out of plays by having extending conversations with the referees while the ball is still live. On some plays, it looks like he's taking a possession off entirely. Here are a couple of examples:

Probably frustrated with the blowout, Cousins shows zero effort in defending Mo Speights' path to the basket, resulting in an easy in-bound lob pass from Stephen Curry:

 

He takes offensive possessions off, too. On this particular play, not once does Cousins break in to a jog, walking the length of the court before passing off and standing just below the free throw line with his hands on his knees. This is in a one-point game with less than five minutes on the clock:

 

There are plays on defense when he acts like he is giving a shit, only to over-pursue and allow his man to blow past. The laziness is on full display in the video below, aptly named "DeMarcus Cousins Defense - Bad": 

 

So do his shortcomings overshadow his talent? Are his huge numbers worth the number of lazy plays and technical fouls? General Manager Vlade Divac has been faced with this questions since the day he took the job. Trade rumors have been a big part of Cousins' career, and Divac has done well in dodging rumors and questions about trading Cousins, saying publicly that there are no plans to trade the star player. However, the recent moves that the Kings have made would suggest otherwise. 

Last season, Sacramento drafted Willie Caulie-Stein, a young and athletic center from Kentucky, providing a defensive-minded backup for Cousins. And in this years draft, their first two selections were 7-footers: Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere. Do these moves make Cousins expendable? There are now five centers on the Kings roster with the addition of Kosta Koufos. Somethings gotta give. 

                    

 

So if Cousins were to be traded, where would it be? And for whom?

As is the case during every NBA off-season, the rumor mill is working overtime. The Boston Celtics are rumored to be interested in acquiring Cousins, as General Manager Danny Ainge has been said to be enamored with the big man. There are also rumblings this week of the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers being suiters. According to some outlets, the Cavs have contacted the Kings about a potential trade involving DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore, in exchange for Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, and multiple future first round picks. Both sides would benefit, as the Kings get a star looking for a fresh start and picks for the future, and the Cavs get an All-Star to run the paint and compete with the new super team out in Oakland. 

Diving into the ESPN Trade Machine, some potential trades cooked up by a Kings fan that proved to work under the salary cap included:

Cousins and McLemore to the Heat for Justice Winslow, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. 

Cousins to the 76ers for Joel Embiid and Jaleel Okafor and a first. 

Cousins for Jimmy Butler also works, though it is safe to say that Chicago has seen enough roster turn over for one off-season. 

I have personally been on the pro-Cousins bandwagon ever since he arrived in Sacramento. I have seen the flashes of brilliance and have turned a blind eye to the negatives that surround him. His record off the court is unblemished, he's never been caught drunk driving or beating his significant other. He is an active member of the Sacramento community, donating both his money and his time to local charities and organizations. He has been the only bright spot in an otherwise dark 10 years. I own two DeMarcus Cousins jerseys and a Vote Boogie headband. I've defended his attitude and his actions since Day One. How could we trade our best player since Chris Webber?

After last season, which saw the Kings sign Rajon Rondo and improve their record by a whopping four games, I'm all aboard for the rebuild. And if you are going to rebuild, go all out, and start from the ground up. Take your most valuable asset and exchange it to fill needs and plan for the future. Create a team that I can be proud of. Sacramento Proud. 

There is no better time than now.

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