The Sacramento Kings have traded DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first round pick, and a 2017 second round pick in a move that is controversial and puzzling considering Cousins was set to sign a $200 million plus extension to stay with Kings long term. General Manager Vlade Divac has made questionable choices in the past, and many have been critical of his capacity to be a general manger.
Divac admitted during a press conference in which he was all but crucified by the press, that he turned down a better deal just two days prior and has crowned himself the “Dumbest Shithead in the NBA,” and for good reason. DeMarcus Cousins is a top tier player, an All star who averages, 27 points and 10 rebounds. To Divac’s defense though, Cousin’s behavioral issues which are beginning to make Rasheed Wallace look tame, has been cancerous, not to mention the Kings were looking at paying him plus $200 million a large chunk of their team salary going forward that make for little flexibility and ability to build a team that can bring back the winning days of Rick Adelman’s fabled squad, during the early 2000’s, unquestionably one of the most successful western conference teams.
For New Orleans, they form the best front-court in the NBA, pairing DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis which put them in almost immediate shape to contend. The duo will be unstoppable in the paint. The question is whether Cousins will opt to stay in New Orleans long term. Many are already talking about Chris Paul joining them next year. They are already formidable now. Who knows what the boys in gold and blue can achieve.
This move is invaluable for the Pelicans, but what does this mean for the rest of the west and the Blazers. New Orleans (23-34) sits a half a game behind the Blazers(23-33) in the 11th spot and just 2 games out of the eighth spot held by the Nuggets(25-31). Sacramento(24-33) is ahead of the Blazers by a game. Dallas(22-34) sits at 12th, Minnesota(22-35) at 13th, Lakers (19-39) at 14th, and Phoenix(18-39) sits last a 15th. As you see, the fight for the eighth spot is paper thin, and until the DeMarcus Cousins trade, was up in air, maybe now a little less so.
It seems the eighth spot is almost exclusively the Pelicans’ for the taking. The front court of Cousins and Davis is likely to send New Orleans on a deep run towards the playoffs. That said, Denver didn’t get worse with the Nurkic trade, and may in fact have gotten better, they will win some, lose some, and will definitely remain in the race. The Kings just gave away their chance to make the playoffs with trading their star Cousins, so expect to see them plummet in the standings. Never count out the Blazers, though it will be a tough road ahead, with Nurkic now in the red and black, expect Portland to make a run, sans further moves by Neil Olshey to procure more draft picks. Dallas is itching for the playoffs, as they do every year. With Owner Mark Cuban its Playoffs or nothing. Look to see them make a late season push for the eighth spot. Minnesota is still young and Thibodeau has yet to help them improve. They will for sure try to put some wins together come the second half, but don’t count on them making to hard a push in the west, especially with an injured LaVine. Though the Lakers and Suns are only a handful of games out of the eight seed, I don’t see them as much of a threat, and at this point they are probably thinking more about lottery picks then playoff spots. Still, its bumper to bumper on the road to the playoffs, the ride is long yet.