DeMarcus Cousins was all smiles the moment he appeared to find out about his trade, or at least trade rumors of going, from the Kings to the Pelicans.
But once he examines the deal closer, he might not like every aspect.
Cousins stands to miss out on a lot of money — about $30 million or more — due to this trade.
Because he made All-NBA teams the last two seasons, he was eligible to sign a designated-veteran-player contract extension this summer. As a matter of fact, he reportedly planned to do just that with Sacramento reportedly planning to offer it. That extension projected to be worth $209,090,000 over five years ($41,818,000 annually).
But, once officially dealt, Cousins will no longer be eligible for that super-max extension. It’s reserved for players still with their original team or who changed teams only via trade during their first four years.
This is Cousins’ seventh season, dropping his max starting salary in 2018 from 35% of the salary cap as a designated veteran player to 30%. That projects to be $179,220,000 over five years ($35,844,000 annually) if he re-signs.
It’d be even less if he leaves New Orleans, a projected $132,870,000 over four years ($33,217,500 annually).
Notice how small that difference is now between his incumbent team and other suitors. By rule, the Pelicans won’t hold nearly the same advantage in keeping him as the Kings would have. In other words, New Orleans faces greater risk of Cousins walking.
And there’s no guarantee Cousins gets the max. You saw how little the Pelicans traded for him. That speaks to his value around the league.
Just over a month ago, Cousins appeared content to take $209 million or so and stay in Sacramento. Now, his financial future is far more uncertain. But this much we know: His max possible salary on his next contract just got lowered.