Last week, Kings minority owner Shaquille O'Neal said on TNT's "Inside the NBA" that the team might consider a change in "direction" when it comes to DeMarcus Cousins and the long-speculated idea of trading the All-Star. Now, the Sporting News reports that league executives believe a deal could be made as soon as early December:

"I'd say they have three months, tops," one Western Conference general manager told Sporting News, requesting anonymity because he is not allowed to speak about other teams' players. "Probably more like a month, or month-and-a-half, because the closer they get to the (February trade) deadline, the less they're going to get back. If you're trying to trade him the week of the deadline, it's going to be tougher."

The Kings don't want to give up on this season just yet, certainly not with a new coach in Dave Joerger and point guard Darren Collison now returning to the rotation. The Kings have five straight home games (though all against top-tier teams) beginning Wednesday and running through Thanksgiving. If they flop in that stretch, league executives expect changes to follow.

Source: DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors finally feel real and imminent, NBA execs tell SN | NBA | Sporting News.

So how do we put this report into context? Well, here's a start:

The vultures are gathering. "League executives" are going to want to apply pressure, and the more talk that comes about this idea, the lower Cousins' price becomes. That's a key component here. Remember, every leak has an agenda in this league. Even if the executive has no vested interest and is merely shooting the breeze on what he really feels, another Western Conference team in turmoil is good for them, even with the possibility of a competitor getting Cousins.

Could DeMarcus Cousins finally be traded? USATSI

At the same time, it's important to note we are entering Panic Trade Season. And there's been a consistent flow of reports and rumors about the Kings finally loosening on their "Never Trade Cousins" approach. They opened the new arena, the team is still terrible, Cousins is still Cousins for better or worse. There's more and more reason to pursue a deal for a fresh start to engender some goodwill (and maybe some season tickets) but they have to get maximum value.

One important factor, though there are no reported teams linked to serious or even preliminary talks with the Kings about Cousins. Teams that make sense in terms of having both the assets and need for Cousins, like Boston and Denver, have started off slow this year. Along with the Celtics' possession of the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick in a swap losing value with every Nets win (Brooklyn is 4-5), there is more pressure on those other teams to make such a deal. You have to have equilibrium to make a deal.

That seems to be slowly forming, which could mean that yes, in fact, finally, the Kings could trade DeMarcus Cousins this year.