DeMarcus Cousins’ third All-Star Game as a King apparently was his last.
The Kings traded forwards Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night for rookie guard Buddy Hield, ex-King Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2017 first- and second-round picks, league sources confirmed.
The Kings repeatedly had stated publicly they would not trade Cousins. That changed on a weekend when he was being celebrated for his play this season.
The move means Sacramento essentially has given up on making the playoffs even though they trail Denver by just 1 1/2 games for the final spot in the Western Conference.
So rather than possibly play the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, the Kings will look to add more young players. They have not reached the playoffs since 2006.
Sacramento stands to lose its first-round pick to Chicago if it’s outside of the top 10 from a 2011 trade for J.J. Hickson. A Kings team without Cousins and Rudy Gay, out for the season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon, figures to plummet in the standings.
Cousins played only two minutes in the Western Conference’s 192-182 victory Sunday night at Smoothie King Center. That was at Cousins’ request, as he has been feeling worn down.
After the game, Cousins was asked about rumors he was headed to New Orleans and if he would like playing for the Pelicans.
“If I’m blessed enough to have a job here, absolutely,” Cousins said. “If it happens, it happens.”
The Kings had planned to offer him a contract extension exceeding $200 million in the offseason. Kings general manager Vlade Divac privately had promised Cousins and his agent that he would not trade him.
Cousins said he wanted to spend his career in Sacramento.
For a team that already has trouble getting top draft prospects to come in for workouts, the Kings could lose additional credibility with free agents.
Sacramento will have two first-round picks and another second-round pick in 2017.
Philadelphia still has the right to swap picks with the Kings this year.
Cousins led Sacramento with averages of 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season.
The Kings’ key building piece in the trade is Hield, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard drafted sixth overall out of Oklahoma last year. He’s averaging 8.6 points.
Evans was the NBA Rookie of the Year with the Kings in 2010, when he averaged a career-best 20.1 points. In the last year of a four-year deal, he has been limited to 26 games because of injuries and is averaging a career-low 9.5 points.
Galloway, a third-year shooting guard, is averaging 8.6 points.
Casspi has been out since Jan. 16 because of a calf injury. He’s averaging 5.9 points in 22 games this season.
So Cousins’ last time being announced as a King was at Sunday’s All-Star Game, ironically at his new home.
Cousins is from nearby Mobile, Ala. He has always had a lot of family and friends at Kings games in New Orleans.
Cousins said the weekend “was amazing. I enjoyed the city of New Orleans. I love it here in New Orleans. I’ve been here a lot as a kid, so I’m kind of familiar to the city. I had fun.”