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Unless you live in Orlando, it’s not everyday one of the league’s most talented big men demands a trade to greener pastures. With the recent report that DeMarcus Cousins was told to stay away from the team after he may or may not have requested a trade, it only make sense to look at a few trades that would make sense for the Anaheim — sorry, Sacramento — Kings.
Your immediate reaction is probably: “Wait, why would the Kings trade for an injured center who got out-rebounded by 6-foot-4 Dwyane Wade last year?”
In a monkey wrench move to throw off Mayor Kevin Johnson’s “Keep the Kings!” push, the Maloofs could green light any personnel decision, that would — what’s another word for sabotage? — place a premium on draft picks and “building for the future,” a future that the Maloof’s hope is in Anaheim. As Bill Simmons wrote almost a year ago, the Maloofs are in debt and over-leveraged. The relocation fee Anaheim would have to pay the Maloofs — believed to be in the $75 to $100 million range — is enticing enough for the Maloof’s to make a tempting, if unscrupulous, decision.
To the people of Sacramento: Before you let your nerves get to you and vomit all over your cowbells, keep in mind that even this deal, and it’s probably the worst of the five — is not that bad of a basketball move. You get a natural center in return with a polished post-game and improve a murderous team chemistry. Lopez’s return will take longer than expected and by the time he gets back, you’ll be fighting for lottery positioning instead of a playoff spot (same old, same old). Considering how stacked this upcoming draft class is, that isn’t a bad thing. All isn’t lost. Except, they’ll still probably move the team after a 16-40 season. Never mind.
Even before Manu Ginobli broke his left hand, the chances of the Spurs returning to the Finals ranged from “slim” to “get serious.” With the league cramming more games into every month, the impact of his injury will be increased. Doesn’t this feel like the kind of year Duncan comes down with a mystery injury, the Spurs fall out of the playoff race and somehow wind up with a high pick in a stacked draft? It’s their classic one-season-rebuild year.
This is a big picture team. Going into the season, Gregg Popovich openly said that he would rest his stars at the tail-end of these hellishly long road trips. Now, with Ginobli out, they could cast away Tony Parker and his nefarious reputation. In San Antonio, Cousins would get a heavy dose of Popovich and Tim Duncan- he’d basically be going to Big Man Finishing School. If any team could get the most out of the petulant star, it’s the Spurs.
The Kings would get Parker, while also shedding John Salmons bloated contract. Unless you are part of the Brent Barry Fan Club, you have to acknowledge that Parker is something of an underrated talent at this point of his career. At 29, he still has a few more quality years and could easily give you a few more 17-7-50%fg years like he did last season. The Kings would get a natural point guard and could them slot Evans over to the shooting guard where he belongs. (This is not up for debate- he’s averaging fewer than three assists a game.)
Landry Hayes? Am I crazy or is that an improvement?
Despite Gerald Wallace’s starring role in last year’s improbable 48-win season, his name popped up a few times during the offseason in trade rumors (including one reported package Portland offered to Orlando for Dwight Howard) and is likely to remain there with fan favorite Nicolas Batum waiting in the wings to…take over at the wing. While Portland isn’t likely to rush into any move, the potential to build the 2010 Grizzlies on steroids might be too much to pass up. With Oden sidelined yet again, the Blazers need to find a long-term solution at the five.
Think about the inside-out potential with Cousins and Aldridge? A lineup of Felton, Crawford, Batum, Aldridge and Cousins with Salmons, Camby, Nolan Smith and Luke Babbit coming off the bench? Any takers for that Blazers team in round one of the playoffs?
On paper, well online paper anyway, this trade is exceedingly fair. Four games in, McGee and Cousins are averaging an identical 13-11. There is, however, the small matter of McGee shooting 54 percent to Cousins’ 32 percent, and one more block per game, but let’s look past that for right now. Finally playing on a team with an intelligent, pass-minded point guard would do wonders for Cousins’ numbers and mood. While Cousins can certainly be immature, on some level you can appreciate his frustration. The man is playing on the most trigger-happy team in the league now that Mark Jackson has instilled a “defensive mindset” in Golden State. We both know I’m kidding about Golden State.
While Washington is Wiz Khalifa-high on McGee, evidenced by their refusal to trade him for the second pick last summer, Cousins would be a tempting prospect, considering the lack of low post scoring in the league. Considering Wall’s collegiate chemistry with Cousins, you could imagine Wall leaning on Wizards GM Ernie Grunfield for a reunion with his former Wildcat teammate. The Kings would get back a young, lithe center to make up for losing Dalembert and significantly improve them defensively.
In the words of Ashley Shaffer, “Either way you win!”
1. And finally, the tantalizing three-team trade that should happen.
Sacramento gets Russell Westbrook, Marcin Gortat, and Josh Childress
Oklahoma City gets Steve Nash and DeMarcus Cousins.
Phoenix gets Tyreke Evans Nazir Mohammed
Although the Kings would be getting rid of both their young stars, Cousins (21) and Evans (22) should not be untouchable at this stage in their respective careers. While both could eventually be franchise players, neither has consistently demonstrated the requisite leadership and maturity needed to carry a team at this level. In Westbrook, the Kings would be getting a young star, already dominant at his position, and someone who is clearly a natural, and vocal, leader (hence the recent clashes with Durant).
Considering Sacramento is $26 million below the cap, even the Maloofs should be willing to take on the $27 million left (over four years) of Josh Childress’ contract if it nets them 23-year-old Russell Westbrook, a point guard with top-3 talent. Westbrook would get his own team, one with enough young talent (20 ppg scorer Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson, and of course Jimmer) and front-court depth (Gortat, Hayes, Hickson) that he would considering re-signing. Obviously the deal would be contingent on that. But once the team moves to Anaheim, Westbrook will be just a half-hour drive from his hometown, so why wouldn’t he? Oh, right, sorry for bringing that up again.
- By Thomas Johnson and Michael Levkowitz
Check back soon for more “Sources Want To Say” pieces.
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