By Nick Avila:
Just as an All-Star trip became a yearly event for DeMarcus Cousins, so was answering questions regarding trade rumors circulating around the trade deadline.
But, this year, those rumors became reality as the Sacramento Kings traded their All-NBA center to the New Orleans Pelicans, along with Omri Casspi, for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and draft picks.
What? How? Why?
Yes, all of those are proper reactions. In what may turn into the biggest “Kangz” move of all time, Sacramento got rid of the best big man in the league in exchange for a 23-year-old rookie, an injury-prone player they already let go of and a not-so-well-known, undrafted player in Galloway.
If you’re not familiar with what “Kangz” means, let me tell you. It’s something Kings fans on Twitter have mentioned a lot this year.
It’s basically a focus on how inconsistent the team can be; evidenced by the team routinely blowing 20-point leads to sub-500 teams like the Chicago Bulls, then defeating top-tier teams, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the very next game.
It can be used as a synonym for Murphy’s Law, but can also be linked to an any-given Sunday type of mentality. At the end of the day, this trade has dumb written all over it.
Cousins could almost be called a once-in-a-generation type player. He can do everything you’ll ever ask of him. The only thing he couldn’t do with Sacramento, though, was have a winning season.
But, since Cousins was drafted in 2010, he and co. have failed to ever surpass 35 wins. The team switched directions with its roster almost as much as the “Head Coach” nameplate switched.
The Kings tried everything with Cousins. They paired him with centers in Samuel Dalembert and Willie Cauley-Stein as they utilized him in the four-position. They paired him with forwards like Jason Thompson and JJ Hickson as he played the five.
It didn’t work. Nothing worked.
As hopeful, or as delusional, as fans may have been, it seemed generally obvious that the Kings would never be a dominant team with Cousins.
That’s what made a Cousins trade something fans not only had to prepare for, but expect.
It’s hard to bash a player that had 30 or more points in 22 games before the All-Star break and it’s easy to blame the lack of talent around him. In those games where Boogie had more than 30 points, the team went 10-12. But, the Kings have side-stepped for far too long.
The team never clicked: Coach after coach, point guard after point guard and front court pairing after front court pairing, the results stayed the same.
Since Cousins was drafted the Kings have had seasons with win totals of: 24, 22, 28, 28, 29 and 33. This season they were on pace to have about 35 wins.
Cousins took the brunt of criticism that came the Kings’ way and it never seemed like he was the leader he needed to be for a team that could never climb out of the cellar.
While teams made the most out of top-10 draft picks, the Kings did the opposite, flopping on almost every occasion, passing up on players like Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, among about dozens more that could have helped the team take a leap into relevancy.
And that’s where the issues were out of Cousins’ hands.The Kings’ front office is the true problem when it comes to why the Kings have remained the laughingstock of the NBA.
With Kings owner Vivek Ranadive trying to turn the team into the Golden State Jr. Warriors with every trade or draft selection. Ranadive came into Sacramento like a knight in shining armor riding a white horse as he saved the team’s existence in California. But, in four years, he’s turned himself into a horse’s ass.
He wants to make the Kings something they aren’t. He’s wanted the Kings to be the face of his “NBA 3.0” moniker but with ideas like 4-on-5 defense with a cherry-picker, how do you expect to not be mocked?
Vlade Divac’s press conference Monday afternoon did nothing to make fans feel any confidence, either. He spoke about the Kings moving forward with a culture change, which he repeatedly stated, but the only culture change that needs to happen is an owner getting out of his own way and letting a GM be a GM.
Divac threw what I think was a subtle jab at Vivek when he said the Kings had a better trade offer two days prior. Ranadive, who gawked over Hield in the off-season and attempted to make a draft-day deal, needed his guy and he got him. Vivek was rumored to have said he saw Hield as a player with “Steph Curry potential”.
Insert any crying .gif in the world here.
It’s somewhat obvious that Divac has been in over his head since he took the reigns, but this takes the cake. And with Ranadive embarrassingly using his power to undermine a first-time GM, it’s not looking promising for the future.
I was a proponent of trading Cousins because I didn’t see the Kings being a top contender with him at center. The team was always too reliant on him and didn’t play to the best of their ability with him. But for the return, I would have never in a million years accepted that trade.
With a player of his caliber, the Kings needed an almost certain All-Star in return, in addition to first-round draft picks, and they didn’t get that. The Kings got hosed and everyone knows it.
It was a total “Kangz” move and whatever backlash the team gets is deserved.