Kings ship DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans: Grade the Trade

In a shocking turn of events Sunday night, Yahoo Sports reports that Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. 

Cousins now unites with fellow former Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis in New Orleans to form a combination of two of the top five big men in the NBA. This is an absolute fleecing, as the picks are likely to vanish in value with Cousins and the Brow together. The Pelicans did not have to surrender star guard Jrue Holiday, any of their big men or talented wings like E’Twuan Moore. The Kings have gone from being sure of re-signing Cousins to a $200 million extension next summer to getting Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans’ expiring contract, Langston Galloway and a pick. 

Let’s grade the trade.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 

RECEIVE: DeMarcus Cousins (C), Omri Casspi (F)

SURRENDER: Buddy Hield (G), Tyreke Evans (G), Langston Galloway (G/F), 1st-round pick (protection unclear), 2nd round pick

GRADE: A+

Are you kidding me? Did Dell Demps take Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac to Bourbon Street to complete this deal? How did they pull this off? Dell Demps was considered to be at least on a mild hot seat. The Pelicans were scrambling trying just to get over .500 and failing to do so, and everyone was saying they were a crime against basketball for failing to get Davis help with his incredible production.

Well, he got him help.

Keep in mind what the Pels didn’t give up here: Davis, Jrue Holiday, multiple first-round picks, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Tim Frazier, Donatas Motiejunas. At the very least, Holiday should have headlined this trade, but because he didn’t, New Orleans has a talented two-way point guard to get the ball to his bigs. They add an MVP-caliber player who can dominate the game next to their MVP-caliber player who can dominate the game. They have the No. 3 and No. 6 big men in Win Shares this season. And they didn’t have to give up multiple picks. 

Yes, there are questions about Cousins’ attitude and his affect on the locker room. Yes, there are concerns over re-signing him, especially because the Pelicans trading for him means he lost $30 million in a possible max deal from the Kings next year. Yes, there are concerns over how he and Davis will play. But the Pelicans traded for one of the 10-15 best overall players in the NBA this season, and they didn’t have to trade their member of that elite group. Oh, and they are buddies after both played at Kentucky in different seasons. 

New Orleans just celebrated All-Star Weekend. The party’s not stopping any time soon. Laissez bon temps rouler. Let the good times roll. 

SACRAMENTO KINGS 

RECEIVE: Buddy Hield (G), Tyreke Evans (G), Langston Galloway (G/F), 1st-round pick (protection unclear), 2nd round pick

SURRENDER: DeMarcus Cousins (C), Omri Casspi (F)

GRADE: F

Never make trade calls over hurricanes at Patty O’Brien’s in the quarter, friends. 

The central idea behind this deal is the Kings’ belief that Hield is a top-five pick talent. Hield is 23 years old. Cousins is 26. You’re banking a lot on a 23-year-old rookie who’s had a very mediocre rookie season overall. Even if you believed that Hield is the next coming of a late-bloomer Kobe Bryant, you could have at least gotten Jrue Holiday. Or multiple picks. The surrender cobra is streaking across all of Sacramento tonight like a virus. This is a disaster. 

Let’s say that Cousins flames out in New Orleans. You still failed to get what you could have gotten in return. To put this into perspective, this deal was the essential framework of a Jahlil Okafor trade, which the Sixers turned down. There will be a lot of negative stories about Cousins out of Sacramento in the coming days, and they’ll be true for the most part. He did drive teammates insane. He is a headcase on the court. But he is also widely regarded as a good person off the court and is an undeniable top-10 talent. The Kings gave him away for a song, and for a team that has struggled so much since the golden days of Chris Webber and company, you wonder how long it will take them to get back to respectability. They didn’t purge any of their contracts, they still have concerns over giving up or swapping their pick this season, and more than anything ...

They lost Boogie Cousins and got very little in return. Maybe this will be one of those trades that surprises us down the line. But as it stands now, this is a disaster for the Kings. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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