Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. And in the case of DeMarcus Cousins, the Phoenix Suns in the long run will be very happy that they didn’t trade for a complete fraud.
Cousins is über talented — no one can question that. He is one of only three players averaging 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds per game. But he doesn’t win. And more importantly, he is a franchise ruiner.
I am extremely happy that we all woke up this morning and Cousins is not a member of the Suns. And yes the Suns were somewhat interested in Cousins, did inquire about him and had internal discussions about him in a trade surrounding T.J. Warren, Alex Len and a draft pick. But Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough is no fool. He wasn’t going to overpay for a player who is a high-risk and one they would have had to pay close to $200 million for.
“We would have traded for him at the right price,” said McDonough. “We didn’t want to break up our young core to get him.”
The Suns young core is something to build around. They have young talent, plenty of cap space and a ton of draft picks including two first-rounders from Miami coming up. The Suns don’t need to be desperate, they need to be patient. The pieces for Phoenix are falling in place and a top-5 pick is on its way in June.
A team who needed to be desperate is in fact the team who is bringing Cousins on board.
New Orleans is 23-34 and 2 1/2 games out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference. Jobs, a lot of jobs are on the line in the organization including head coach Alvin Gentry. They had to do something. They had to make franchise player Anthony Davis happy. So they pulled the trigger on a trade for the 26-year-old center who was taken fifth overall by Sacramento in the 2010 draft.
But the lack of talent they gave up tells you everything you need to know about Cousins. The Pelicans parted with rookie first-round pick Buddy Hield, a decent player but nothing special, veteran swingman Tyreke Evans whose best days are behind him, guard Langston Galloway who likely won’t stick around, and their first and second round picks in this June’s draft for the three-time All-Star. The first-round pick is top-3 protected and right now that pick is slated to be 9th overall.
The happiest team in the NBA right now is the Sacramento Kings. What they just did was get out of having to pay $217 million to a player that has always done what was best for him, not what was best for his team.
Sacramento’s brass has lied from the second my report came out two weeks ago that the Kings were talking to the Suns about trading Cousins. They said they had no intention of trading him and that he was going nowhere. That he would sign an extension with the Kings.
Cousins for his part said he wanted to stay — mainly because by being traded he loses about $30 million as the designation rule allowed his original team to pay him 35 percent of the salary cap, but his new team can only pay him 30 percent of the cap. That’s a big chunk of change Cousins loses by being dealt.
But taking a deeper look there is a reason in his seven seasons in the NBA, the most wins Cousins has ever guided his team to is 33. In fact from his rookie season until this year the win totals for the Kings with Cousins go like this — 24, 22, 28, 28, 29, 33 and this year they are 24-33. Forget about making the playoffs, Sacramento has never even sniffed the playoffs since Cousins joined the team, finishing 14th, 14th, 13th, 13th, 13th and 10th in the Western Conference.
One prominent NBA high ranking executive told me there are 25 teams in the league who wouldn’t take Cousins for free. And he was serious.
Cousins is just not what he appears to be. Forget the numbers because they don’t explain anything when it comes to Cousins. He is a terrible teammate who takes the joy out of playing the game. He doesn’t get back on defense, dribbles the ball way too often instead of letting the point guard run the offense, jacks up three-pointers from wherever and whenever in total disregard for the offense being run. In fact it’s easy to define his style of play — it’s a losing style consisting of bad habit after bad habit. He is an emotional wreck and unstable. He is completely uncoachable.
The future for Phoenix is bright, but it wouldn’t have been had they been the team trading for Cousins instead of New Orleans.
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