Late Sunday night, the Dallas Mavericks engaged in a DeMarcus Cousins trade discussion with the Sacramento Kings, sources tell DallasBasketball.com, but were rebuffed when a Kings representative told Dallas the same thing they were telling Cousins himself: He was not going to be traded.
And then came a U-turn that stunned all involved — including Cousins himself.
On the one hand, we’ve said the Kings would likely never trade Cousins, 26, because ultimately there was an understanding of what a rare talent he is, and what CBA-related advantage there was to the involved parties in staying together. We wrote that here.
On the other hand, we’ve said the Kings ownership is just nutty enough to do … well, anything. We wrote that here in suggesting that the Mavericks should call Sacramento to see if they want to trade for Deron Williams.
Well, it looks like we’ll go with the second hand.
The Mavs did indeed contact the Kings about Cousins; for all of his sometimes-troubling issues, Mark Cuban and company recognize the big man as a special talent, and a franchise-changing talent if positioned properly.
That never happened in Sacramento. Now it quite likely will happen in New Orleans.
Confirmation of what one source tells DB.com about how this went down comes in the form of quotes from agent Jarinn Akana through ESPN’s Marc Stein.
"I have spoken many times recently with (Kings owner) Vivek (Ranadive) and (GM) Vlade (Divac) about DeMarcus' future with the Kings," Akana said. "They have assured me, and DeMarcus, that the Kings won't trade him and are committed to signing DeMarcus long term. In fact, Vlade has gone on record saying exactly the same thing. If the Kings flip-flop on what they committed, that is on them.’’
Those quotes came just hours before Dallas’ call to Sacramento … and just hours before Sacramento’s acceptance of New Orleans’ offer.
“DeMarcus,’’ reports Yahoo, “is in shock.’’
Outside of some leaks here and there, Sacramento bosses were seemingly Boogie’s biggest fans — and they told him so, assuring him of this literally hours before the trade of Cousins to New Orleans. Yes, it’s one that raises questions about just how difficult Cousins might be, just how talented New Orleans might now be, and just how “nutty’’ the Kings might be. (Important sidebar: The contract Cousins could’ve gotten, via the new CBA, by staying with Sacramento is so much larger than the deal he can now get when he’s free in 2018 is another reason to be “in shock.’’)
But we cannot help, obviously, but spend a moment on the Mavs angle.
Was there a deal Dallas would’ve offered that matched/topped the one that went down, as New Orleans absolutely destroys the Kings in this trade, which sends Cousins (and Omri Casspi) to the Pels in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder?
Theoretically so. That’s a collection of pieces that are something short of special. (I'm chasing more details there.)
Did it ever get far enough for Dallas to put together a superior package? No … because the Kings’ preemptive answer to any offer was “no.’’
Should Dallas have called again? And again? And again? They may be kicking themselves today … but again, they were told “no.’’
Is there any benefit to Sacramento having done this deal? Maybe one.
The Kings, by now being bad (again) will put themselves in position to keep a first-round pick in 2017, which will probably be in the top 10. In practical terms, they are netting two first-rounders, not just a first and a second, and one of the first-rounders added is very likely to be top-10.
Pre-trade, Sacramento was in ninth in the West and chasing a playoff spot, and their pick was going to be owed to Chicago (the pick is top-10 protected). With Cousins gone, the Kings will certainly tank down to a really bad record, shamelessly and without having to worry if Cousins gets upset, and assure themselves of having a draft slot in the top 10 where Chicago gets left out. (Chicago gets a second-rounder instead.)
They also added the Pels’ pick, which should be somewhere in the 12-to-15 range, of course. Right now the Pels are slotted ninth but adding Cousins will give them a boost.
So the Kings are building, kinda, hoping to draft a great player … like the one they just gave away.
But the Mavs could’ve been just like the Pelicans in this scenario, offering a package of young players and a pick that can be in the 12-to-15 range. Dallas, with Cousins, would’ve vaulted toward the playoffs just as the Pens now should.
It’s a tantalizing vision … that didn’t come to fruition because before almost inexplicably saying “yes trade” to New Orleans, the Kings said “no trade’’ to Dallas (and presumably other bidders) … just as they said “no trade’’ to their own player.
Who then got traded.