SENSE OF DIRECTION

Why both Sacramento and New Orleans needed to make this blockbuster trade

As the 66th NBA All-Star game concluded with the Brow garnering MVP honors after breaking Chamberlain’s ASG record in points scored with 52, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the biggest WOJBOMB this season:

The official details of the trade:

Sacramento Kings receive: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and 2017 1st (top 3 protected) and 2nd round pick
New Orleans Pelicans receive: DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi

Now we had the formalities out of the way, let me start off by saying…..

BOOGIE IS FINALLY FREE!

I have been praying for a DeMarcus Cousins trade for 2 years now, even went as far as trying every possible Kings-Lakers trade scenarios on ESPN’s Trade Machine in the hopes of bringing Boogie to Los Angeles. But finally, it has happened — Cousins is out of Sacramento, the basketball purgatory of the NBA to join New Orleans……. another basketball purgatory of the NBA.

But hey, at least they have Anthony Davis!

So how does this trade benefit both parties. Let’s break it down:

WHY NEW ORLEANS MADE THE TRADE

The Pelicans have one of the top NBA players today in Anthony Davis but they also have one of the worst general managers today in Dell Demps. Prior to trading for Cousins, the Pelicans failed to acquire any help for Davis as they struggled to start the season, losing 8 in a row. The return of both Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday from early injuries and personal issues helped New Orleans try to salvage a slow start as they now find themselves just 2.5 games out of the playoff picture. But it was clear that the roster just isn’t talented enough to jump over Portland or Denver for the 8th seed.

Buddy Hield still hasn’t found his rhythm (39% FG, 37% 3FG) that made him deadly in the NCAA. Tyreke Evans never learned to extend his range nor be effective without the ball. Omer Asik has forgotten to play center, much less a basketball player in the NBA level. And players such as Galloway, Motiejunas, Frazier, Cunningham, and Moore are all average role players at best.

Is it too much to give away Buddy Hield (and what he could become), Tyreke Evans (and what he could still become), Langston Galloway and all your draft picks to what could be one of the best draft class for a franchise player that is also a headcase? Maybe. But the Pelicans needed to show Davis what he could accomplish in the Big Easy now and don’t get me wrong, this is a major showing for them.

Now with DeMarcus Cousins joining, the move has revitalized a franchise in need and ended any #FreeTheBrow movement that was slowly starting in New Orleans. Just think about this for a second — the Pelicans now have two of the top 10 players in the NBA and two of the top two big men in the Western Conference. Let’s not forget that Cousins has expanded his range, currently shooting 36% from the perimeter (on par with Buddy), while averaging career-highs in scoring (27.8) and assists (4.8). Couple that with Davis’ career high averages in scoring (27.7), rebounds (11.9), and only missing 4 of the possible 57 games played, and that’s just scary to think what they could do together.

Suddenly New Orleans, who looked lost for most of the season, now have two solid foundation players to build on. There’s a strong possibility that they make the Playoffs but the Boogie-Brow combo alone won’t be enough to upset the Warriors, though it will be fun to finally see Cousins in the postseason (his first in 7 years). They could potentially be in the 4 to 6th seed range next season, depending on what happens with the Clippers.

If anything else, Alvin Gentry’s seat just became a little itsy bitsy warmer, especially if they still missed the Playoffs despite the blockbuster move. But the pros far outweigh the cons, and the Pelicans are out of basketball purgatory. For now.

WHY SACRAMENTO MADE THE TRADE

Here’s the short answer: WHY NOT.
Here’s the long answer:

It just wasn’t working with DeMarcus Cousins as their franchise centerpiece. The Kings have a 35% winning percentage, no winning seasons and no playoff appearances during Cousins’ 7-year run with the team and both needed a change of scenery. Emotional instability has always been one of Cousins’ strengths and no one in Sacramento really had any idea how to control him. To be fair, no one in Sacramento really had any idea on how to manage a team. They kept making head-scratching decisions including but not limited to:

  1. Firing Michael Malone, the only coach that was able to control Cousins, midway through the season and hired George Karl, one of the many coaches hated by Cousins
  2. Hiring Vlade Divac to be the GM of the team despite no professional experience prior, just because WHY NOT
  3. Drafting Georgios Papagiannis in the lottery during the 2016 NBA Draft when the team already had Cauley-Stein, Koufos, and Cousins in the roster

Despite the occasional flareups from DeMarcus, it’s hard to replace his all-around game in which he could punish you in the paint or pull up from the perimeter with ease. But with Cousins now out of Sacramento, the Kings can finally, FINALLY, focus on rebuilding without the need to watch over their back for another tirade.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has made it an open secret that he wants Sacramento to play like the Golden State Warriors, the same team in which he used to be the co-owner and vice chairman in 2010. Buddy Hield has the talent to become a streaky shooter ala Eric Gordon, after knocking down 50% from the field and 45.7% downtown during his NCAA days as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners, though he will have to share his shots with Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo, who are also on the trading block.

After becoming the fourth rookie in NBA history to have averages of 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists (joining Oscar Robertson, Jordan, LeBron), Evans’ play has declined and needs a strong finish in his contract year. But all signs point out that this could be a 25-game rental for the former Rookie of the Year.

The important piece that the Kings are holding onto is their 2017 1st Round (top-10 protected) that they owe to the Chicago Bulls. Without the need to compete for the 8th seed, the Kings will look to tank as they increase their chances of holding on to their pick. They currently have the 11th worst record but could go down even further while Portland and New Orleans fight for the last playoff spot. If they do hold on to their pick, they could draft De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky), Dennis Smith (NC State), or even have one of the two most coveted point guards in the draft class — Markelle Fultz (Washington) or Lonzo Ball (UCLA). Plus, the addition of the 1st round pick from New Orleans gives them another chance to acquire a gem in the deep draft.

And let’s not forget the forgotten ones: Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis, who were both lottery big men. Cauley-Stein has shown some flashes of what he can do and maybe he could end up like a Tyson Chandler 2.0 for his defensive activity in the paint. And Papagiannis…. I don’t even know what to say about him, but if the Kings drafted him with the 13th pick, maybe they’re seeing something that we haven’t seen.

Sacramento can finally prioritize developing their young core in the hopes of building a legitimate team for a city that deserves more. Maybe this is trade will work out for them to save their franchise. Or maybe we could start the #FREEBUDDY movement already.

– David Gamboa

(image from: http://bit.ly/2lmaRVd)

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3 thoughts on “SENSE OF DIRECTION

  1. I really don’t wanna be the pessimist here, but I admire your optimism for a team no one wants to play for. Sacramento for the past five years or so, has been one of the most misguided and mishandled teams as a result of a shaky (and I am being very generous here) management in recent league history (way before Vlade came into the mix).

    Ok, so the Kings (finally) got rid of DeMarcus Cousins. What did they get in return? To review, they get a returning but underperforming Tyreke Evans, a still developing (promising?) Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway (who they will probably waive), a 2017 first round pick and a second round pick. However, due to the Nik Stauskas trade, the 2017 first round pick they got in the package will actually go to Philadelphia. So, really, the Kings get 2 active players, a second rounder, and cap space.

    Fast forward to next season and, with Vivek’s vision of small ball, you’re probably looking at a starting lineup of Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Aaron Afflalo, Rudy Gay, and Willie Cauley-Stein. On the bench you have Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Anthony Tolliver, Ben McLemore, Kosta Koufos, and George Papagiannis. Not bad, really. But not good enough to contend for a playoff spot. They need more. On how Vlade will do it, my guess is as good as yours.

    Going back to my point earlier, Kings management (or lack thereof) just took another blow following their presser. Vlade basically embarrassed himself here, admitting that he’s pretty useless, his balls fell off, and that he doesn’t keep his word. Well, not exactly in those words, but you get the idea. First he admitted passing up on a better trade deal a few days ago, and then when pressed about going back on his promise that Boogie won’t be traded, he gave a shrug for an answer. Seriously? A shrug? Good answer, VP, very articulate. Yeap, that’s one way to boost your team’s morale. Oh, and you can use that to attract free agents next season to come play for you.

    At the other end of the deal, there’s a huge pressure on Alvin Gentry on how he can adjust his system to fit both Boogie and Brow. The Pelicans look very intimidating on paper having 2 of the league’s best big men. Defensively, it’s gonna be tough for teams to penetrate and score in the paint. Reminds me of the David Robinson-Tim Duncan defensive wall in San Antonio and how it worked to perfection under Coach Pop. But the league has changed since then. Gone are the back-to-the-basket, ground-and-pound offense days. It’s a guard’s league now, and being a stretch-big is a requirement. So it’s gonna be interesting to see how Gentry will utilize the Boogie-Brow combo to combat this current style of offense. They have a capable play-maker in Jrue Holiday, but that’s about it. They have an abundance of big men (Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Alexis Ajinca, and Dante Cunningham to name a few) and I expect the Pelicans management to be be very busy in the next few days trying to get quality guards to surround their newly formed twin tower.

    *** On a lighter note, fantasy owners are probably scratching their heads right now…

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    • I guess it’s really all about restarting the culture of the team. There has always been a dark cloud (shaped like DeMarcus Cousins) looming over the franchise and trading him for scraps is one way to fix the franchise and start from the bottom.

      I agree that what Sacramento got for Cousins were basically scraps, but I’ve read from multiple outlets that no team were willing to give something more valuable than the NO offer. Boston reportedly didn’t make a play. Lakers were not willing to give away Ingram. Orlando and Phoenix don’t have any assets to entice Sacramento.

      It’s just sad to see that the Kings are run by fools. The city deserves so much more than head scratching decisions from Ranadive and Divac.

      On the bright side, I’m very excited to see what New Orleans can do with Cousins and Davis. We haven’t seen that much talent in the frontcourt since McHale-Parish in the 80s! So hopefully Gentry can figure out a way to tap into their potential and make some noise before heading to an early offseason and finally complete the Pelicans puzzle.

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