After a week of severe turmoil, it appears that the Sacramento Kings’ season is in jeopardy; news recently broke that the team had chosen to part ways with head coach Paul Westphal, and earlier in the week it was reported that second-year center DeMarcus Cousins had demanded a trade.
Amid the tumult in Sacramento, the Kings stand at a mediocre 3-5 record, coming off a 103-100 win in new head coach Keith Smart’s debut, a game in which DeMarcus Cousins put up 19 points and 15 rebounds.
The Philadelphia 76ers, currently at 3-2, are playing competitive basketball. The Sixers are currently fourth amongst the league in points per game and ninth in points allowed.
And while it appears one team may be ready for a surge, while the other is attempting to salvage its season, a mere two years ago, both teams found themselves in very similar situations.
The Kings went 25-57 in 2010 under head coach Paul Westphal, and despite Tyreke Evans’ stellar rookie season, the Kings made it back to the lottery.
Similarly, the Sixers finished 27-55 under first-year coach Eddie Jordan; the Sixers’ personnel could never adapt to Jordan’s Princeton offense, leading to the head coach’s departure after one season.
Through the lottery both teams attained top five picks; the Sixers acquired the second overall pick, while the Kings would picked fifth.
The Sixers worked out numerous potential picks from swingmen Evan Turner and Wesley Johnson to big men Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings on the other hand were going for size.
To whom should the Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins to?
Most scouts agreed Turner was a very polished, and NBA ready, player, a safe pick with little risk and All-Star potential.
Some scouts pegged Cousins as the most talented player in the draft, but Cousins’ baggage on and off the court allowed three teams to pass on him for arguably less talented players. Cousins had superstar potential, but he also had the potential to implode.
Back in 2010, I believed that the Sixers desperately needed a big man and would’ve been well served to take either Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech or DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky. I even proposed the Sixers swap picks with the Minnesota Timberwolves who owned the fourth picks and seemed enchanted with Turner’s abilities as a swingman.
The Kings knew they were taking a huge gamble on Cousins, and even though Cousins has shown some flashes of brilliance, it’s no secret he’s not happy in Sacramento and would ultimately choose to leave when given the chance. It’s also likely Cousins has lost respect with his teammates, the front office and even the fans.
Many have pointed fingers at the Kings’ immature center for the Paul Westphal firing, despite the Kings’ inefficient play, lack of energy and horrific defense.
Facing immense expectations in Philadelphia as the No. 2 pick, Evan Turner has disappointed averaging seven points on 42 percent shooting during his rookie season and 10 points on 46 percent shooting this season.
The Sixers remain in desperate need of a big man, with former Kings’ center Spencer Hawes manning the position. Hawes has posted very good numbers for the Sixers averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks per game. Hawes currently posts a 25 player efficiency rating ranking him amongst the league’s most efficient big men.
Despite Hawes stellar season at the center position, he’s unlikely to continue playing at this high a level. The Sixers have only played five games; logically, Hawes’ numbers will eventually mirror his career averages of about eight points and five rebounds.
The fifth year center out of Washington is not the Sixers’ long-term answer at the center position.
In a trade the Sixers could also offer up rookie center Nikola Vucevic. The Sixers made Vucevic their first pick (16th overall) in the 2011 draft. Vucevic is a true seven footer, and he possess a soft outside touch to go along with a developing post-game.
If I were a member of the Sixers’ front office, I would deem Jrue Holiday untouchable, but certainly be open to giving up any other player in order to acquire a talent like Cousins.
Cousins would instantly provide the Sixers with a center capable of providing an interior scoring threat; the Sixers haven’t had a true scoring center in decades. Cousins has the ability to go for a 20 point, 15 rebound game on any given night. Playing alongside a young point guard in Jrue Holiday, Cousins would benefit as a scorer, and Holiday would improve as a floor general.
The Kings on the other hand would receive a player once thought of as the most NBA ready player in his draft. Evan Turner’s problem has been his hesitance on the offensive end. Playing in a more wide open Sacramento Kings’ system under Keith Smart could potentially allow Turner to gain confidence and develop as a scorer. The combination of Turner and Tyreke Evans on the wings could prove deadly for the Kings, two players with prone to getting to the free throw line and converting.
The move would benefit both teams. The Kings would rid themselves of Cousins and add a potential All-Star in Turner. The Sixers would gain a promising remedy to their ever long troubles at the center position. Both teams would be engaging in risks of great magnitude, but this is a situation where the potential payoffs simply override the risks.