DeMarcus Cousins has now been sent to the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings no longer have the centerpiece of their franchise. In return the Kings got a collection of rotation players, who will likely never rise to Cousins’ level, and two draft picks. Given how Sacramento has drafted over the past decade, that’s not something to be excited about.
The Kings have been in the lottery for 10 straight seasons. The returns on those picks have been largely terrible. Here’s a look at their track record:
The Kings drafted Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, Bismack Biyombo and Isaiah Thomas in back-to-back drafts and all four are now elsewhere. Cousins and Thomas are two of the best players in the NBA, and Whiteside is averaging 16.8 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game for the Miami Heat. Biyombo is contributing in a limited role for the Orlando Magic, averaging 6.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, but was huge for the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 playoffs.
A look at the rest of the list shows picks wasted on a shooter with limited upside (Nik Stauskas), a 7-footer with less than zero offensive game (Willie Cauley-Stein), an athletic shooting guard who has never developed (Ben McLemore), an undersized post player who was an enormous bust (Thomas Robinson) and a combo guard who couldn’t shoot (Tyreke Evans). Throw in Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes — two big men who have averaged 8.9 and 8.8 points per game respectively for their careers — and that’s as dismal a draft record as you’ll see this side of the Cleveland Browns.
In exchange for Cousins and Omri Casspi, the Kings received Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. The centerpiece for the Kings is apparently Hield, who owner Vivek Ranadive believes has the potential to be the next Stephen Curry. Look, I like Hield and had a lot of fun watching him play at Oklahoma, but he ain’t Steph Curry or anything like him. Hield is a great shooter, but doesn’t have the quickness or ball-handling skills to be a generational player like Curry is.
Additionally, the first-round pick the Kings received from the Pelicans will almost surely not fall inside the lottery. New Orleans is currently 2.5 games out of the last playoff spot, and with Cousins and Anthony Davis combining in the post, the team should at least reach the playoffs.
Another problem that has emerged for the Kings comes in the form of the following information:
So Divac claims the Kings had a better offer for Cousins a few days ago but decided not to take it. Then he moved him for less two days later? Why? What’s the rush in dumping Cousins? The NBA’s trade deadline isn’t until Thursday, surely there was more time to find a buyer for a higher price, right? If not, Cousins was under contract for another season, the Kings could have just held on to him and moved him this summer or next season. Shoving him out the door for a weak collection of rotational guys and a few picks Sacramento will almost assuredly screw up makes zero sense.
The Cousins trade has shown us in plain terms why bad franchises stay bad. Poor management and a meddling owner have led the Kings into the tank and now they have lost the only piece they might have been able to build a contender around.