When one of the NBA’s most polarizing players gets traded, it’s the sportswriter equivalent of Steph Curry unguarded at the 3-point line.
You don’t pass up the chance to take a shot.
So as news broke of Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and draft picks on Sunday, those who cover the league hurried to make sense of the surprising development.
Worst deal in history. Not exactly worst in history, but not great. Good culture move. Shoulda got more. The varied opinions ran the gamut. Here’s a sampling of the buzz around sports media.
Howard Beck, senior NBA writer for Bleacher Report, says the winner of the trade isn’t who you might think. He writes that the Kings will catch flack for what they got in exchange for Cousins, “But this is the sanest move they’ve made in years. With one swift deal, the Kings jettisoned their greatest headache, restocked a barren cupboard and firmly declared their values: character matters now.”
Nate Scott of Fox Sports lists 11 winners and losers of the trade. Overall, Scott says the Kings are the losers and the Pelicans are the winners. He also says it was a loss for the Sacramento fan base: “I don’t even know what to tell Kings fans this morning. Maybe try getting into the Premier League?”
Scott calls Hield a winner in the deal: “Hield will also get a fresh start in Sacramento on a team that will give him every opportunity to play and prove himself, and if this whole ordeal gives him an even bigger chip on his shoulder, that will bode well for him.”
The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture of the ramifications around Western Conference: “As the N.B.A. comes to grips with DeMarcus Cousins joining Anthony Davis to form one of the most imposing frontcourts in league history, the most striking thing may be how little it cost the New Orleans Pelicans to pull the move off.
“But once that shock fades, it might sink in that in a Western Conference dominated by the small-ball Golden State Warriors, a team suddenly exists that best exploits Golden State’s weaknesses.”
In the world of video games, apparently the trade doesn’t pass muster in NBA2K17.
TNT analyst David Aldridge, in a piece for NBA.com, gives “56 quick thoughts” on the deal. No. 1: “There is no doubt that DeMarcus Cousins is one of the 10 best players in the NBA. None. Zero. Dude is a monster offensive talent who’s adapted to the modern game by incorporating the three into his arsenal, seemingly overnight.” No. 2: “There is also no doubt that DeMarcus Cousins is, often, a huge, colossal pain in the butt.”
Ben Golliver writes on SI.com that the way the Kings handled parting with Cousins was a disaster: “It’s not surprising that an organization in Sacramento’s position would decide that it was time to part ways with Cousins. But that the Kings would do it like this—without warning or regard for the All-Star Game, with Cousins thrown to the media slaughter and under a gigantic microscope, and after such a long and strained relationship—is inexplicable and patently unprofessional. It’s not clear whether the Kings were trying to humiliate Cousins or if they were simply continuing a years-long pattern of incompetent management, but they couldn’t have sold out their franchise player any harder if they had tried.”
Knowing what the Kings got in return for Cousins opens the door to a lot of “what could have been” for teams around the league looking to add the All-Star, a topic Deadspin’s Albert Burneko delves into.
For example, Burneko poses Cleveland as a possibility: “LeBron James has been asking for somebody who can anchor the offense while he and Kyrie Irving rest; he could scarcely have dreamed of better relief than Cousins. ... The Cavs don’t have a 2017 first-rounder to deal, but they’ve got one in 2018, and they could have packaged it with DeAndre Liggins and Kay Felder, young players who—like Hield—are not good. D’oh.”
Cousins has long been rumored a trade target of the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Globe’s Chadd Finn addresses the Celts fans who might be shocked as to why they couldn’t land him. GM Danny Ainge could have provided a superior offer, after all.
Finn writes: “Maybe there’s some mystery as to why he didn’t trade for a brilliant knucklehead like Cousins, and maybe there is no mystery at all. Maybe Ainge thinks his particular case of headcaseitis is incurable. Maybe he got negative intel from Isaiah Thomas regarding their time together in Sacramento. Maybe he likes his team as is, perhaps with a smaller tweak here or there, and Brad Stevens feels the same way.”
Michael Lee of The Vertical writes that Cousins’ tenure with the Kings ended the way it existed: “They’ve earned their spot among places NBA players most want to avoid. Aside from that rare blip during Rick Adelman’s time as coach and Chris Webber’s prime, the Kings have been in matrimony with mediocrity or worse. And their bizarre mishandling of their time with a mercurial talent of Cousins’ caliber only amplified their struggles.”
Mika Honkasalo of Hoops Hype, a USA Today basketball site, writes that trading Cousins was not the worst move in NBA history, as some, such as Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless, have posited: “Since the situation was terrible and the Kings didn’t really have the assets to improve and couldn’t lure big free agents, moving on from Cousins and starting a proper rebuild (that hopefully won’t be torpedoed by incompetence) is the right move.”
Compiled by Jon Schultz