Did the Kings trade Cousins because they think Buddy Hield is the next Steph Curry?

Are you still laughing about the DeMarcus Cousins trade? The blockbuster, completed Sunday night and made official on Monday, sent the superstar center from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for a relatively unimpressive package: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick. It is the rare deal that can be credibly called an A+ for one side and an F for the other

Of course, some trades that are viewed as one-sided look drastically different a few years down the line. In 2008, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters that the trade that sent Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers was “beyond comprehension,” adding that “there should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense.” He did not know at the time that Marc Gasol, who was part of the trade and playing in Spain at the time, would turn out to be one of the best centers in the league. 

Evidently, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive thinks that Hield will be their Marc Gasol. Sacramento was linked to Hield before last year’s draft, with ESPN’s Chad Ford even speculating that the front office would have selected him No. 2 overall. Ranadive attended Hield’s pro day in Los Angeles and spoke to him for 15 minutes afterward, per DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony. And then there’s this:

Wow. Steph Curry potential. So not only does Hield, a rookie, have to live up to being the main piece in a trade for a franchise player, he has the added pressure of being compared to a back-to-back MVP and the greatest shooter in NBA history. A few thoughts:

  • Never compare anybody to Curry. There has never been a player like him, and it’s going to be tiresome when every high-scoring college guard with range draws this comparison. Curry is one of the best ballhandlers in basketball, an incredible finisher, a creative playmaker and a pretty good defender. Hield is none of these things, at least not yet.    
  • This has been pointed out over and over again since the trade went down, but a much better comparison for Hield would be Nik Stauskas, the player the Kings drafted No. 8 overall and then sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers in a completely insane salary-cleaing trade the following summer. After drafting him, Ranadive said of Stauskas, “He shoots like Steph and he’s big like Klay.”
  • The Stauskas trade opened up cap space for Sacramento to sign Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli, making it look even worse in retrospect than it did the day it happened. At the time, though, another reported free-agent target for the Kings was Monta Ellis. This is funny because the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami tweeted Monday that Ranadive’s favorite player when he was a Warriors minority owner was Ellis, not Stephen Curry -- “by a lot.”
  • All of this is to say that Ranadive’s track record for player evaluation is not exactly stellar, and he might be setting up Hield to fail in Sacramento. Realistically, if Hield turns out to be an Allen Crabbe- or Jodie Meeks-like player, that shouldn’t be seen as a disappointment. If he turns out to be more like J.J. Redick, that should be seen as a massive success. The Kings seem to be positioning him as their savior, though, and the expectations that come with that are dangerous. 
CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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