Well, the trade rumors have begun. The latest Kings-related rumors, unsurprisingly, involve DeMarcus Cousins. Apparently, the Cavaliers would consider trading the number one pick for Cousins. The Mavericks and Bobcats are apparently also interested. While I normally don’t believe in trading players who are underpaid for their production, Cousins presents an interesting case. On the last year of his rookie deal, Cousins is underpaid for now, but could command a max salary on the restricted free agent market next summer. That could be more than the Kings are want to pay, especially if his behavior and leadership does not improve next season. Therefore, they could choose to move him now and build for the future with a different prospect. The Kings have not officially put Cousins on the trading block, and I doubt that any draft day trade will be made, especially since the team doesn’t even have a coach or GM right now, but just for fun, let’s look at some of the possibilities with the teams that are reportedly interested.
Since there is no consensus number one pick in this draft, the top selection is less valuable than it would normally be. However, if the Kings new ownership decides they don’t want to build around Cousins, they could trade him now and pick Otto Porter and solve their issues at small forward for the foreseeable future. The Cavs are reportedly interested in Porter with the top pick anyway. Here is an idea I think the Kings would at least have to consider:
The Kings receive:
The Cavaliers receive:
DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, and a future second round draft pick.
Why the Kings do it: They decide that they don’t want to deal with DeMarcus Cousins’ attitude anymore and they realize that if a team offers him a deal similar to what Roy Hibbert received last summer, they will not want to match. This deal gives them a chance to bring in another young big man with potential in Tristan Thompson (albeit with a ceiling notably lower than Cousins’), and to shed Hayes’ salary. Getting rid of Hayes would also free up space in the rotation for recent addition Patrick Patterson. With the top pick, they could decide to pick another big man to replace Cousins, such as Nerlens Noel, or they could opt to solve their small forward issues with Otto Porter. C.J. Miles and Tyler Zeller would be included mostly to make the salaries match, but they are both decent players who could work their way into the Kings rotation next year. Overall, the Kings would be parting with the most talented player involved in the trade, but they would be moving toward building a roster that fits more cohesively than any Kings roster we’ve seen in the last four or five years.
Why the Cavaliers do it: The Cavs are impatient. They have had a top five draft pick in the last three years, including two number one picks. They are anxious to improve right now, and are concerned that there isn’t a transformational talent available in this year’s draft and are willing to take a chance on pairing DeMarcus Cousins with a backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Anderson Varejao and DeMarcus Cousins would complement each other well on the front line, and Chuck Hayes is still a very serviceable player, just not one that fit very well with the Kings roster. The Cavs get instantly more talented, without having to give up salary cap space for the 2014 off-season.
Probability: I think this deal or something similar is the most likely trade to happen, but it is still a stretch. Chance of happening: 5 out of 10.
The Bobcats don’t have a lot to offer in terms of their current roster. They do, however, have last year’s #2 draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who would be perfect for the Kings at small forward. Here is my suggestion:
The Kings receive:
Michael Kidd Gilchrist, the #4 draft pick
The Bobcats receive:
DeMarcus Cousins, the #7 draft pick
Why the Kings do it: In order for the Kings to accept this trade, they would have to have their eyes set on a prospect that they think will be available at #4 but not #7. Otherwise there isn’t much reason to give up Cousins’ talent for a player like Gilchrist. However, if the Kings see a big man they like in the draft, perhaps Alex Len or Nerlens Noel, and believe they can get him at #4, then they should pull the trigger on this deal. Gilchrist is a great defender who plays hard, and would fit well in the Kings starting lineup.
Why the Bobcats do it: The Bobcats have not had a player as talented as DeMarcus Cousins since they traded Gerald Wallace, and Cousins has the potential to be better than Wallace ever was. In fact, after Wallace’s third year in the league, playing for the Kings, he went to Charlotte in an expansion draft, immediately flourished in a new environment, and became the first All-Star in Bobcats history. Perhaps the Bobcats think they can repeat history with Cousins. While this draft is not as top-heavy as drafts in the past, it is actually fairly deep and the Bobcats can definitely get a good player at #7, perhaps not any worse than a player at #4.
Probability: I don’t see the Bobcats parting with Kidd-Gilchrist after only one year. They liked him enough to pick him with the second overall pick, and he is probably the only untouchable player on the Bobcats roster. I doubt they give him up to take a risk on Cousins. For the Kings, Cousins’ talent may prove to be more valuable than moving up a few spaces in the draft and a hardworking small forward. Chance of happening: 3 out of 10.
The Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have very few players under contract for next season. Therefore, they have very few pieces to use as trade chips. However, Mark Cuban has a two-year plan to make the team a contender again, and acquiring a player like Cousins could fit into that plan. There is very little on the Mavs roster to entice the Kings to move Cousins, especially since O.J. Mayo plans to opt out of his contract. However, if the Kings decide they are absolutely determined to move Cousins, then here is a potential scenario:
The Kings receive:
Vince Carter, the #13 draft pick, and a 2015 first-round pick.
The Mavericks receive:
Why the Kings do it: In order for this trade to happen, the Kings would have to have completely given up on DeMarcus Cousins. This trade would signal the beginning of a new rebuilding effort. The Kings could get two solid prospects in the draft at #7 and #13 to build around, and a future first-round pick to either trade or use to continue the rebuild in 2015. Vince Carter probably would not get a lot of playing time in the backcourt over Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans, but he is an expiring contract and remains popular with fans around the league.
Why the Mavericks do it: This would be close to a slam-dunk deal for Dallas. The draft picks aren’t very important, since the Mavericks fully intend to be back in the playoffs by 2015. The Mavs are hoping to persuade a superstar free agent to sign with them this off-season, and a young player like Cousins could make the roster more attractive to someone like Chris Paul, while preserving the cap space to offer a max contract this off-season. If it doesn’t work out with Cousins, they can always decline to offer him the qualifying offer next off-season and go after one of the stars in the 2014 free agent class. I’ve heard rumors that Dallas believes they have a better shot at signing Dwight Howard than Chris Paul, and, in light of that, adding a young talented center to a frontline already featuring Dirk Nowitzki does not make a lot of sense. However, given how little the Mavs would be giving up in this trade, it would be hard to pass up regardless of what they attempt to accomplish in free agency.
Probability: There is almost no chance that the Kings go through with this deal. While there would be some value to clearing cap space and getting picks, it’s very likely that the Kings can find a more palatable package for Cousins than anything the Mavericks can offer. Chance of happening: 0.5 out of 10.
I think it’s very unlikely the Kings choose to move Cousins on draft day. The new GM will probably want to do his (or her) due diligence in terms of deciding how to proceed with DeMarcus and I think it is very unlikely that a decision will be made by draft day. On the other hand, if they see a golden opportunity to actually make the team better while getting rid of DeMarcus Cousins’ behavioral issues, then I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a deal. All in all, it would have to be a really good deal for the Kings to bite.
Tags: Alex Len Anderson Varejao C.J. Miles Chuck Hayes DeMarcus Cousins Dion Waiters Kyrie Irving Marcus Thornton Mark Cuban Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Nerlens Noel Otto Porter Patrick Patterson Sacramento Kings Tristan Thompson Tyreke Evans Vince Carter