The trade of DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t have come at a better time. The reason? Well, it body-checked out of the way what had been the biggest story during All-Star Weekend: the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant feud.
Let’s face it, we were all getting sick of that and now we can move on. Conventional wisdom is that the Kings may have just made one of the worst trades in NBA history, sending Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and first-round pick and second-round pick.
The move has been widely criticized as has been the Kings’ organization, their owner, Vivek Ranadive, and their GM, Vlade Divac. Few seem to have taken exception to the Kings trading Cousins, who has had his ups and downs in Sacramento. Rather, the issue is what the Kings got back — which many see as very, very little.
It’s tough to stick up for this trade if you’re looking at it from the Kings’ perspective. They just gave up perhaps the best center in the game for an unproven rookie and a couple of role-playing veterans along with a couple of picks. But what I do remember is a trade from way back in 2000, when another team was absolutely lambasted for what was perceived as an awful trade.
Back then, the Detroit Pistons traded Grant Hill, who had already been an NBA All-Star in five of his first six seasons, to the Orlando Magic for Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace. The move was widely panned because Hill was a star and the other two guys were relative no-names.
But look what ended up happening, and I’m not necessarily talking about the injuries to Hill. No, I’m talking about the kind of player Wallace turned into. Nobody knew it at the time but Wallace would wind up being the anchor of the Pistons’ defense during a run that few saw coming.
The Pistons won it all in 2003-04 and then returned to the NBA Finals the following year. Wallace was the best defensive player on one of the best defenses in the league, and Detroit went six consecutive seasons of making it to the Eastern Conference finals.
I don’t know that I see a Ben Wallace coming to Sacramento, but the point is we don’t really know yet what’s coming to Sacramento, only what has left. Ranadive and Divac are going to have to bite the bullet for a little while because it seems preposterous to think the Kings are better today than they were yesterday.
Can Hield turn into an NBA All-Star? Can Evans and Galloway be productive role players. Can the Kings turn those picks into something? We won’t know for a couple of years.
Do I think we’ll look back at this trade and eventually declare the Kings the “winner?” Doubtful. But it’s possible that over time the trade won’t nearly look as bad as it does today.