Hours after the conclusion of the NBA All-Star Game, news broke via Adrian Wojnarowski that the Kings and Pelicans had agreed to a trade that would send superstar DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.
There had been rumors all day that the Kings and Pelicans were talking, but those rumors were largely debunked by the Sacramento media prior to the All-Star Game. The deal is reportedly Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, New Orleans' first round draft pick in 2017 (Top 3 protected) and Philadelphia's second round pick in 2017 for Cousins and Omri Casspi.
My first thought is that the Kings are the most inept franchise in sports at this point. After refusing to trade him for years, and insisting that he would remain with their organization for a long time, they traded him for this?
Buddy Hield was a wonderful college player during his senior season at Oklahoma. He's shooting a respectable 37% from 3 point range as a rookie, and that should only improve as he learns which shots NBA defenses will give him. However, he doesn't project as much more than a 6th man or a 4th or 5th starter at best.
Tyreke Evans is a below average player who will do impressive things on a nightly basis, creating the impression he's a better player than he is. At his absolute best he's an average all-around NBA player that will be paid more than an average player because he looks good doing things.
Langston Galloway is a decent back-up point guard, and likely just a filler to match salaries. He's not a bad player, but I can't imagine the Kings actively targeting someone as easily replaceable as Galloway would be.
The first round draft pick is coming this off-season, which is supposed to be one of the deepest and most talented drafts in a long time. The Pelicans are currently 23-34, which has them tied for the 8th pick at this point. The Kings are one game ahead of them at 24-33. However, I would suggest it's likely that the Pelicans get into the playoffs as the 8th seed now. That's a mid-first round pick, which should have value in a deep draft, but it's very unlikely to be a franchise changing player. Even if a miracle happens and the Pelicans miss the playoffs or collapse after acquiring Cousins, they keep the pick if they get lucky and move into the top 3.
The 2nd round pick also has value, but with the awful-drafting Kings making the selection, the value is minimal at this point.
The draft picks aren't great, but they aren't bad either. The big problem is that the Kings valued players like Hield and Evans far too highly.
I've said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again that Cousins is one of the most frustrating players to watch because he whines about every little thing, and he's wrong at least half the time. But he's one of the best players in the league and pairing him and Anthony Davis together is so unfair it's almost cheating.
The Pelicans have instantly become one of the league's must-watch teams on a nightly basis, and they've quietly amassed two of the best big men in the last 30 seasons. It should be quite a treat to see how these two superstars mesh together, and if they can make a serious run for the rest of the season.
The only thing we know for sure is that the Kings screwed up, like always.