On February 20th, 2017, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans executed one of the biggest blockbuster trades of this generation. The trade sent DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, New Orleans’ 2017 top-3 protected first round pick, and the 76ers 2017 2nd round pick. At the time, this seemed like a very lopsided trade with the Pelicans getting the better end of the deal, and still does to many. But, was the DeMarcus Cousins trade actually good for the Kings?
This trade made it clear the Kings are starting over. They got a talented young sharpshooting rookie in Buddy Hield, a cheap backup guard option in Langston Galloway, and an expiring contract with Tyreke Evans. Most likely the only player over those three that will be on the Kings come next year will be Buddy Hield. Let’s look at all the reasons this trade turned out good for the Kings.
When Hield came to Sacramento, Vivek Ranadive and the Kings had very high expectations for him as he even compared him to Stephen Curry. Although it was unrealistic he would give Curry-like production to the Kings this year, he was still very impressive. Buddy averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting about 43% from deep on the Kings. For a rookie, these are great numbers. Hield gives the Kings one of their pieces to build with for the future. Is Buddy Hield the franchise player for Sacramento? Well, he may not need to be.
Trading away a franchise’s best player will give other young players the opportunity to get in the game and show off their talents. The main players to benefit from Boogie leaving were Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Georgios Papagiannis. Every one of them showed off assets to their game the NBA had never seen before, since they were buried on the depth chart behind Cousins.
WCS showed he does have a post game, is a lockdown defender, a tenacious rebounder, and could be the centerpiece for the Kings’ future. Skal’s work ethic, athleticism, and beautiful jumper gave fans another thing to look forward to. Those are things fan would have never seen before.
Georgios Papagiannis even let us know he might have been worthy of the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, with flashes of his low-post talent he possesses. All three of these guys look like pieces for the Kings future.
Possibly the best asset the Kings got from New Orleans was their first rounder. The pick is projected to be top-10 in a loaded draft. The Kings also own the right to their pick as well. That means the Kings have two top-ten picks in a great draft.
Sacramento gets a shot at great players such as Jonathan Isaac, Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk, and Frank Ntilikina with their two first rounders this year. They also have the 34th pick in the draft, which who knows, maybe that guy will turn out to be a star?
Did DeMarcus Even Matter?
If the Kings were a 50-win team with Cousins then yes, this would have been a very questionable move. Through DeMarcus’s six years on the Kings, they never won more than 33 games. Yes, Cousins is a tremendous talent, 200-million-dollar player, centerpiece for a franchise, but he never helped the Kings even get to 40 wins. With that being said, expect him to help the Pelicans out a lot, but he was never going to turn Sacramento around.
So ask yourself; was the Cousins trade good for the Kings? This was one of those rare trades in the NBA where it looks like a win-win scenario as both sides get pieces to work with. Expect Sacramento to turn it around and become a respectable franchise in the coming years, and expect the Pelicans to be a force in the Western Conference in the future.