By now, everyone and their brother knows about the NBA trade that shook up all-star weekend. DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for…well not a whole lot frankly. No one is denying the talent that “Boogie” Cousins brings to the table. He is one of the best big men in the game, and is averaging a double-double every time he steps on the court. Trading for his production is one thing, but what about trading for his character? Is that worth it?
Last night on “Faces for Radio”, Justin and I debated this topic fiercely, with Justin coming down on the side that Cousins and his issues are more a product of his environment in Sacramento, meaning that they would clear up with a change of scenery and hopefully some winning basketball next to another young superstar (Anthony Davis in New Orleans). I came down on the other side of that coin. While I think that Kings General Manager Vlade Divac has blundered through everything to do with Cousins since taking over as GM, I do agree with his statement that “character counts” and that the character that Boogie brought to the table was not something that you could build a franchise around. I don’t think anyone has ever really seen Sacramento as a “destination” franchise, but the chance to play with Cousins and have a front row seat to his immaturity probably didn’t entice a whole lot of free agents. So, instead of holding on to Cousins and building around him, I’m 100% behind the idea of shipping him out and hitting the reset button.
I have no idea how things are going to work out in New Orleans. Boogie has a year and a half left on his contract, so he in essence has close to eighteen months to feel out the New Orleans situation and decide whether he wants to be there long term…and vice-versa. Regardless of whether it’s New Orleans or somewhere else, Boogie is getting a max-contract the next time he signs on the dotted line. Is he worth the headache, though? Short term, I would have to agree with Justin. For what New Orleans gave up to get him, he is definitely worth the headache based on his talent alone. If he was owed hundreds of millions of dollars still and had four to five years left on his contract, or if he was a little older, I would tend to be a little more leery of the situation. As a long term rental though, Boogie is good to go. We will have to reassess next season to determine if Cousins and Davis can coexist on the Pelicans, and if Cousins can handle himself to a point that will increase how much teams desire to play with him. At that point, we can re-visit this topic and maybe try to determine whether the Pelicans should make the ultimate gamble and sign him to a long term deal.
We have often seen many players, in every sport relish a change of scenery and grow by leaps and bounds with a new, fresh perspective on a new team. For New Orleans, and especially for Cousins, I hope this holds true. While I am a little leery about New Orleans getting bigger instead of smaller, as most teams are now doing, it’s hard to argue with having two of the best players in the league on the same team.