Finally, the Sacramento Kings got it right.
They let All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins boogie on down the road, ending a star-studded, but turmoil-filled run in California’s state capitol.
In reality, Cousins, one of the NBA’s best big men, delivered mostly empty stats on a bad team that couldn’t make the playoffs in this watered-down league.
Kings fans, worry not. You weren’t making the playoffs with Cousins. And you won’t make it without him. You’re still in the same spot.
Worse, Boogie, Cousins’ nickname, also led the league in being a distraction, a major headache.
Kings fans shouldn’t be down or mad at management. They should shout from rooftops, “Good riddance.”
The Kings have decided to move on and start fresh, build with younger players and change the culture. They’ve also given themselves a chance to land a big-time free agent.
For sure, there will be those NBA heads that will bash the Kings for trading their best player.
Many will say the Kings got fleeced by the New Orleans Pelicans. When the trade is approved by the NBA, Sacramento will get rookie guard Buddy Hield (last year’s first-round selection), guard Tyreke Evans, a protected 2017 first-round pick and Philadelphia’s 2017 second-round pick. Guard Langston Galloway will also be sent to the Kings, but is expected to be waived.
Meanwhile, Cousins, an All-Star this season, joins Pelicans’ All-Star Anthony Davis, who dropped a record 52 points in the All-Star Game Sunday night in New Orleans.
On paper, the Kings lost again, just like what’s been the case in the franchise’s history.
They just gave up Cousins. The 26-year-old is the NBA’s preeminent low post scorer, averaging 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season.
And despite those numbers and his tremendous ability, his name had been mentioned numerous times in trade talk.
Cousins is a headache, a powder keg. Can’t blame Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive for not wanting to make a huge financial commitment to Cousins. He would be in line for a five-year, $209-million extension.
Most NBA teams wouldn’t make such a move. They were be afraid of the fan backlash. After all, the only reason to buy tickets and go to a Kings’ game was to see Cousins.
That’s the mistake owners have made for years, rewarding players like Cousins despite not winning anything.
That’s not to say all the Kings’ shortcomings are to be blamed on Cousins. That wouldn’t be fair.
Plus, despite all the other nonsense, Cousins can flat-out play and showed up for work.
But it’s bigger than that. It’s about winning. Clearly, this formula hasn’t worked.
Plus, some of the greatest players in all of sports – including Babe Ruth, Dr. J and Wayne Gretzy – were sold or traded. It happens. Players move on and so do teams.
The Kings just decided that enough was enough. More teams in the NBA should do the same.
The Kings did more than just change the landscape of their franchise. Maybe, just maybe, other owners will take a look at talented players and also finally decide that some are more of a pain than a plus.
And the new CBA in the league forced the Kings to act. Although Cousins isn’t a free agent until 2018, the Kings had a big free agent decision to make this July.
The deal the Kings would have to give Cousins, if he stayed put,a deal in excess of $200 million – by far the biggest NBA contract ever.
And let’s be honest, if you’re going to give that kind of cheese out, you have to do it for someone you trust and can count on. Cousins isn’t that guy. His past is way too checkered.
As for New Orleans, it’s a worthwhile gamble. Davis is a great player and so is Cousins. Together, they are a force. If they were able to land a third player of that caliber, they’d be in business in the Western Conference.
There’s still questions about Cousins signing on in New Orleans long term. Still, the Pelicans get points for trying.
In the short term, New Orleans won big time. They are a team that their fans will buy tickets to see and others will pay attention to.
Long term, however, you might look back and realize the Kings were smart at a time when most teams usually are stupid in these situations.