The weeks-long speculation about the marital status of Boogie Cousins and the Sacramento Kings came to a head Sunday, with the Kings shipping Boogie off to New Orleans, where he’ll join forces with fellow former Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis to give the Pelicans a most formidable front court. It’s a rare instance of a trade being a great move for both sides. And coupled with his NBA All Star Game MVP award, Davis had a hell of a day.
As Frank Sinatra said in his intro to the Stephen Sondheim classic “Send in the Clowns,” “whether it’s the man or woman who left is unimportant, it’s a breakup.” It’s clear Cousins needed to get out of Sacto as badly as Sacto needed Cousins to hit the bricks. In their six-plus seasons together, they’d won 188 games (3rd-lowest in the league, ahead of only Minnesota and Philly), for an average of 29 wins a year, peaking last year at 33. They’d gone through six head coaches, gave up on Hassan Whiteside, and traded away Isaiah Thomas.
For his part, Cousins has been a handful, incurring more fouls, technical fouls, and foul outs of anyone in the league, and it’s not even close, and this season he’s been whistled for so many T’s that he now must serve a one-game suspension for each subsequent one for the remainder of the season. And off the court, his behavior hasn’t been much better, as he’s been involved in at least two fights at night clubs, one of which resulted in his little brother getting thrown to the ground and tased.
Did the Kings get fair value in trade? Probably not. In addition to Cousins, they shipped out backup guard Omri Casspi, and in return they get Tyreke Evans, who hasn’t lived up to his Rookie of the Year status; Langston Galloway, a certified bench jockey; and reigning Wooden Award winner Buddy Hield, who thus far has been a disappointment. The Kings will also get a first- and second round draft pick come June, which is nice, but Hield is a prime example of how lottery picks don’t always work out. Hence the term “lottery.”
The Pelicans, meanwhile, get to test drive Cousins for a season and see how he and Davis play together. The front office has shown Davis they’re committed to making the bold moves necessary to put a winner on the court. If it works out, the Pelicans are suddenly a playoff team featuring the best big man tandem since Duncan & Robinson. And if it doesn’t work out, well, they didn’t give up all that much. Asked about the trade following the All Star Game, Davis was all-in: “All-Star MVP and now getting Boogie. It doesn’t get better than this,” he told ESPN.
Cousins is no doubt frustrated, as he had eyed a massive payday under a new rule that allows guys to sign five-year, $209 million extension when they have just one year left on their contract. Now Cousins may have to settle for $180 million if he decides to sign an extension with the Pelicans. Cousins and his people had made it known they wouldn’t extend with any team that traded for them, but that was obviously a ploy to lower his trade value – a ploy that failed. It seems unlikely that Cousins would automatically dismiss any offer made by New Orleans, given that the city is just a couple hours down the road from his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Now, Boogie being closer to friends and family could make the notoriously cranky center a lot happier, or it could spell more trouble, it’s hard to say. When asked about the possibility of signing an extension with New Orleans, Cousins told The Vertical, “If I’m blessed enough to have a job here, absolutely. I love it here in New Orleans.”
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