Masai Ujiri and Dell Demps should get together and have a beer when the Nuggets and Hornets meet next season, because they’ve both been initiated into fire. Demps had to meet with Chris Paul within days of being hired by the Hornets, to try and convince him to chill out on his trade demands.
DeMarcus Cousins signing a five-year, $209 million contract extension?
That’s out the window with his trade from the Kings to the Pelicans rendering him ineligible to become a designated veteran player.
Which could explain why Cousins’ agent, Jarrinn Akana, was making noise about not re-signing with another team. Dissuading potential suitors and staying in Sacramento was Cousins’ only path to the biggest payday.
Here’s Akana, before the trade was set, via Marc Stein of ESPN:
A straight contract extension next summer makes no sense. The most that could pay Cousins is $92,559,167 over four years ($23,139,792 annually).
If he simply lets his contract expire and re-signs in 2018, a new deal projects to be worth about $179 million (about $36 million annually).
The Pelicans can try for a renegotiation-and-extension, but they would need cap room to raise his 2017-18 salary from $18,063,850 toward his projected max of about $31 million. With significant money due to Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Omer Asik, E'Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, Tim Frazier, Cheick Diallo and, they hope, a re-signed Jrue Holiday, it’s unlikely the Pelicans clear enough room to renegotiate Cousins’ deal.
Cousins is probably headed toward unrestricted free agency in 2018. Then, New Orleans projects to be able to offer about $179 million (about $36 million annually) to another team’s projected max of about $133 million (about $33 million annually).
It’s an advantage, but not a bulletproof one. I think Cousins will be more amenable to re-signing than his agent indicated now that a trade is actually happening, but he could still walk.
Back in 2015 there was already a push from people inside the Sacramento Kings organization to move on from the DeMarcus Cousins era. There were groundwork talks with a number of teams, but a lot of rumors circulated around the Lakers, where Jim Buss was trying to land a star for his franchise that would lead to a quick turnaround. While the deal was never finalized, reports had the Lakers offering both their first round picks that year, which became D'Angelo Russell (No. 2) and Larry Nance Jr. (27th), plus a few other pieces.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive shot the deal down then — as he did with every deal until Sunday night.
By the tine Ranadive came around to the idea of trading Cousins, the market had changed. And dried up. All the Kings landed was last draft’s No. 6 pick Buddy Hield (who Vlade Divac has been higher on than most), the Pelicans pick this draft in the mid-teens, a high second round pick, and some pieces such as Tyreke Evans that are not part of the Kings’ future.
The deal has been widely panned for the Kings, but what they got may well have been the best offer available right now. A lot of teams have concerns about Cousins’ impact on their locker rooms — teams that liked their rosters didn’t want to add drama. Plenty of teams would not talk trade. Also, there is a glut of bigs on the market right now. If teams wanted to give up multiple first-round picks for a center, they could have already because Nets have Brook Lopez on the block — not as talented, but also not a challenge in the locker room. Jahlil Okafor, Tyson Chandler and other centers also are available.
The Kings went back to the Lakers, but when they asked for the young guy the Lakers are highest on, Brandon Ingram, it fell apart, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report added this interesting tidbit about the Kings and Lakers talks in recent days.
Then Buss, in particular, was sorely tempted to shift course yet again Sunday, break from those plans and trade whatever youth it took in the hopes of landing DeMarcus Cousins, according to a team source.
It wasn’t just the Lakers who would not go in big on Cousins.
Calls to Boston found even worse offers, with Danny Ainge worried about Cousins’ impact in the locker room and if they could/would want to retain him. The Booklyn picks were never close to on the table.
Philly is no longer really interested thanks to Joel Embiid (even with the health concerns there).
There were talks with the Suns, but Sacramento didn’t like Brandon Knight as the best player they would get back.
And so it goes down the list, teams were hesitant to give up much and the Kings were left to take the best of bad options. Part of the reason for the Cousins market being dry is that since he is traded, Cousins is no longer eligible for the “designated player” supermax deal, and the difference between what the team that has his Bird rights in 2018 can offer and what other teams can offer is not that great. Which is to say, a lot of teams think they can take a swing at Cousins as a free agent in two summers if they really want him, and they don’t have to give up assets to get him.
The Pelicans were never going to get a seat at the table in those free agent conversations, so trading for him makes a lot of sense for New Orleans.
But for most teams, they were willing to pass. Which left the Kings without good options for a deadline trade.
Of course, what a more stable organization might have done is decide the offers were terrible and hold off on a trade until around the draft or into summer free agency. The deals are not going to get worse, and they might well get a little better. But for whatever reason — concern that Ranadive would change his mind, again? — the Kings moved now.
So, Sacramento is also unsurprisingly dumping the player who allegedly partnered with Cousins nightclub fight: Matt Barnes.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Beyond fitting the Kings’ new vision, the move is necessary, because they have a full roster and are acquiring more players (Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway) than they’re sending out (Cousins and Omri Casspi) in the Pelicans trade.
Barnes, who turns 37 in a couple weeks, is slipping. But he could still add experienced depth to a contender as a 3-and-D wing. (Hello, Cavaliers?)
A hard-nosed player, he’s a great teammate in many ways. And the veterans who comprise contenders would be less likely to be influenced by the ways he’s not — which wasn’t the case in Sacramento.
Since Dec. 1, the Washington Wizards have been the best team in the East.
That is if you go by their record, which 28-10 since the calendar flipped to December. However, nobody sane thinks the Wizards could beat a healthy Cavaliers teams in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s fair to ask if they need more help to get by Boston or Toronto just to get a shot at the Cavaliers.
That need for a little more help has led to trade rumors about Washington heading into the trade deadline Thursday (Feb. 23), and John Wall confirmed the team is looking to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.
“I think so,” Wall said when asked if he expected president Ernie Grunfeld to make a move as he has done the last several years, and the most recent being for Markieff Morris. “We’re looking at some options to help our bench out. Other than that I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him about it.”
There are two scenarios for a Wizards trade that get the most traction around the league.
One is to get Lou Williams from the Lakers. This makes sense as a plug-and-play option, Williams is averaging a career-high 18.6 points this season and is a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award with his play. He’s a bit of a volume scorer, but that can work well with a sixth man (see Jamal Crawford for example).
The other rumor is Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who brings more size up front (6’8″) but can still shoot the three (35 percent this season). Bogdanovic is averaging 14.2 points per game.
Of course, the question is what the Wizards would have to give up to make these deals happen? Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports has said the Wizards might well be willing to give up a protected first-round pick in a deal, and that could well be enough to get a trade done (depending upon the exact protections, and the year). That said, the Lakers, in particular, have been hesitant to make a move.
Don’t be shocked if the Wizards make a move at the deadline. This is their best team in a long time, and they want to capitalize on it.