Rumors began circulating earlier today that the Suns and Kings had discussed a deal that would send DeMarcus Cousins to Phoenix. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports, the teams’ discussions have centered around T.J. Warren, Alex Len, and Phoenix’s first-round pick in this year’s draft for Cousins. While this may seem like a no-brainer for Phoenix if Sacramento is willing to accept this offer, I’m not so sure.
(Image courtesy of CBS Sports)
Cousins is currently averaging career-highs in points (28.4) and assists (4.4) per game along with 10.6 rebounds per game and has rightfully earned himself another All Star bid this year, his superstar-level play has not shown in the Kings’ record: 19-29, just four games better than the Suns’ record. This has been a trend for Cousins since he’s elevated his level of play in 2013. The past three years Cousins has averaged 24.6 points and 12 rebounds per game – excellent individual statistics, yes – but the Kings’ record over the past three full seasons is an abysmal 90-156. A record like this would suggest that he needed a better supporting cast, but in each of those years he has had a talented supporting cast.
(Image courtesy of A Royal Pain)
The Kings traded for Rudy Gay early in the 2013-14 season, and in 55 games with Sacramento that year he averaged 20.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Also 2013-2014 was Isaiah Thomas’s breakout season, which saw him average then career-highs in points (20.3) and assists (6.3) per game, and based on IT’s play since he’s joined Boston you can see it was no fluke. And although Thomas left in free agency to join the Suns, who regrettably traded him for a satchel of beans and a soup ladle, the Kings made sure to keep their star surrounded with talent hopping something would blossom. They added Darren Collison to their roster before the 2014-15 season, who also had a career year with the team. Collison, although only playing in 45 games due to injury and a suspension, averaged 16.1 points, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per contest. The team still couldn’t reach 30 wins.
(Image courtesy of Sir Charles In Charge)
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, the Kings signed point guard Rajon Rondo to a one year deal. After having made headlines for his confrontational attitude, including an on-court argument with his coach at the time, Rick Carlisle, Rondo seemed to tone down his behavior in an attempt to serve as a role model for the young Sacramento team. Rondo led the league in assists, and tied a career-high, after averaging 11.7 while he was with the team. Last season was the first time in Cousins’ career the Kings surpassed the 30-win mark, finishing 33-49, and still a long way from the playoffs. Rondo went on to sign with the Bulls this past off-season, ending his stay with Sacramento. The Kings ended up picking up vet Ty Lawson to play back-up for Darren Collison. While Lawson has digressed a lot from his prime with Denver, when he averaged 16.5 points and 8.4 assists per game in his three best seasons, his talent and experience shouldn’t go underrated. For a little while this season, the Kings held the 8th seed in the Western Conference – which, if they can reach will give them their first playoff berth since 2005-06 – but with Rudy Gay’s season-ending injury and a 3-7 record in their last ten games, it doesn’t seem like this year’s going to be the year for them.
Now why is all of this important to know when considering trade possibilities involving DeMarcus Cousins?
Because he hasn’t been able to take his team to the next level despite having monstrous numbers and various talented teammates around him, so for him to be expected to take another team with very little chance of making the playoffs to the next level would be unrealistic.
(Image courtesy of Zimbio)
Now I could be wrong. Maybe being reunited with former Kentucky teammate and current Phoenix Suns star Eric Bledsoe could do a lot of good for both Cousins and the Suns. I’m still weary about giving up T.J.Warren, who has shown flashes of great potential early this season, Alex Len, who has the makings of becoming a very good defensive-minded center, and a lottery pick that very well could end up being the number one pick in this year’s upcoming draft. That’s a lot of youth to give up for a superstar who has yet to play a minute of playoff basketball despite incredible individual statistics. It also worries me that earlier in the season Cousins declared his intentions to resign with the Kings to a 2oo million dollar deal, because it’s also possible that he doesn’t end up wanting to stay with the Suns and a lot of young talent could go to waste on a gamble.
Phoenix needs to do something this trade deadline, there’s no way around that, and having a big man capable of putting up 30 points every game he plays is in no way a bad thing. His current average of 4.4 assists per game would also help the Suns fix their atrocious assist numbers this season.
(Image courtesy of Hoops Habit)
Ultimately if this trade were to happen, I could see it going either positively or negatively; and until Cousins releases any type of statement indicating he would like to play in Phoenix, I’m on the fence about a possible Cousins to Phoenix trade.