Ranking the Best Potential Trade Destinations for DeMarcus Cousins
Some things never change—I'm looking at you DeMarcus Cousins.
As has become the standard, the Sacramento Kings' season has been marked by disappointment, competitive futility and, of course, Cousins-invoked turmoil.
Fresh off his latest suspension, the perpetually troubled big man has never been a more potent source of conflict.
The result? His name is once again being tossed around the NBA's rumor mill.
To no one's surprise, there has been no shortage of interest in the center's services. Self-destructive tendencies and all, his two-way prowess is valued league-wide. That said, a deal of this magnitude will be extremely complicated.
Not only must teams be willing to manage Cousins' volatile demeanor, but they must also possess the assets necessary to convince the Kings to deal a borderline star who is still on a rookie deal. Ergo, it's going to be tough to find a suitor who can match Cousins' value both statistically and financially.
Does that make this impossible?
Not at all. Let's face it, when it comes to Cousins, anything is possible.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of December 30, 2012.
8. Charlotte Bobcats
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
If you're Cousins, would you really want to go to the Charlotte Bobcats?
I didn't think so. It's more likely he'd beg the Kings to sign a long-term extension before he'd jump at the opportunity to play to play for the Bobcats.
According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, though, Charlotte is interested, and Sacramento would have a "tough time" turning down their offer.
NBA GM wouldn't be specific, but says "if what I hear is true," Kings will have tough time turning down Bobcats' offer for DeMarcus Cousins.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) December 31, 2012
How true such a report is, however, remains to be seen after Amico received a text from a Bobcats official denying their interest in Cousins.
Bobcats official texts to deny team has put together "any sort of package" with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in mind.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) December 31, 2012
For Cousins' sake, he better hope the latter trumps the former. Though it's unclear what Charlotte is prepared to offer—I'd assume unprotected draft picks to go along with an array of young talent—the team's interest is not unfounded.
The Bobcats are 28th in the league in points allowed in the paint (43.4), last in total points allowed (104.5) and 20th in points scored (95.6) per game. Clearly, they have a need for a strong, two-way presence in the post.
That said, Cousins has floundered emotionally on a team void of veteran leadership, and there's none of that to be found in Charlotte.
A move to the Bobcats wouldn't do much for his development as a player or leader. He needs to be in an environment where he can be led for now.
Simply put, Michael Jordan's Bobcats—complexities of any deal aside—aren't equipped to handle Cousins, rendering this a catastrophic fit for both parties.
7. Orlando Magic
Moe Harkless of Magic.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are no strangers to building their team around a prolific big, so their interest in Cousins should come as no surprise.
Per Kentucky Sports Radio, Orlando is one of four teams that are favored to strike a deal for the budding young center.
Once again, the logic here on the part of the suitor is irrefutable. The Magic only allow 95.7 points per game (eighth in the league), but their offense (92.8 points) is in dire need of some added production.
Also, Cousins is the deft passer Dwight Howard never was. Thus, surrounding him with shooters could prove all the more lethal.
That said, Cousins would lack a mentor in Orlando just like he does in Sacramento (and just like he would in Charlotte). The Magic are rebuilding, and veterans like Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick aren't going to be enough to ground the tumultuous Cousins.
Yes, tactically Cousins would be a sound fit in Orlando's system, but a lack of guidance ensures he stands to cripple the team emotionally.
I wouldn't worry too much about seeing Cousins wind up in a Magic uniform, though. Orlando doesn't have any overwhelming young talent that screams, "future star." Sure, guys like Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and Moe Harkless might get the ball rolling, but Orlando doesn't have that extra punch to put any offer over the top.
Also, let's not forget that Cousin's new agent, Dan Fegan, helped bring us the Dwightmare. Do the Magic really want to deal with him again?
As such, place little to no faith in any deal of caliber being brought to fruition.
6. Detroit Pistons
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Pistons continue to search for another star-caliber big to pair with Greg Monroe, a quest that has brought them to Sacramento's doorstep.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Pistons are one of the many teams who have inquired about Cousins' availability before and they remain a potential suitor.
Truth be told, Cousins could fit in with the Pistons. Detroit prides itself on defense and rebounding, two areas in which he excels. And the team's 22nd-ranked offense could also use some added interior production.
But at what cost?
Obviously, the Pistons would prefer to hold on to Monroe, but would the Kings let that happen? They had the opportunity to draft Andre Drummond and passed on him in favor of Thomas Robinson. Are we now to believe they'll take him on in favor of Cousins?
Bear in mind also that Monroe is still on his rookie deal as well, meaning Sacramento is liable to demand he be present in any deal. And is that even enough? Should Detroit even be willing to give up that much?
I understand that Cousins is a premiere talent, but he's already proved he's not prepared to shoulder the load of an entire franchise. Monroe, at the very least, has shown he is more receptive to such a role.
Assuming the Pistons were able to retain Monroe doesn't help much either. Who in Detroit is prepared to ground the explosive being that is Cousins? Tayshaun Prince? I don't think so.
If the Pistons are willing to relinquish Monroe, Detroit becomes a plausible destination. That said, while it is possible, Cousins and the Pistons are far from a perfect match.
5. Washington Wizards
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Reuniting with former Kentucky teammate John Wall may be just what Cousins needs.
Or not. Per Amick, Cousins and his people believe that a move to the nation's capital would be ideal.
Except that it wouldn't.
Wall's presence ensures that Cousins would be amenable to joining another struggling team, yet where does he fit in on this roster? Veterans Nene and Emeka Okafor are unlikely to be moved should an accord be struck, and Cousins' presence thus makes for a crowded interior.
Sure, the two inconsistent centers could serve as valuable mentors, but are either of them someone Cousins would respect? Better yet, does Washington have the sideline personnel necessary to coach Cousins?
This is a team that has mismanaged payroll for years and is stockpiled with an array of talented players that don't complement each other. Cousins' presence would merely be adding fuel to an already uncontrollable fire.
Let's not neglect to mention that Washington has little, if anything, of value to offer Sacramento in return. Wall is obviously untouchable, and with so many guards on their docket, the Kings are unlikely to be enticed by a package including Bradley Beal.
Yes, Wall's presence could help stifle Cousins' overwhelmingly antagonistic persona, but the Wizards are a mess.
One that Cousins would only help perpetuate, not clean up.
4. Dallas Mavericks
USA TODAY Sports
Cousins and the Dallas Mavericks would serve each other well, but such a union is less than likely.
According to our friends over at Kentucky Sports Radio, the Mavericks are interested. Fegan has a great relationship with Dallas owner Mark Cuban, who has never shied away from acquiring controversial talents (see O.J. Mayo).
Also worth noting is the still-recovering Dirk Nowitzki, and Mayo could certainly use a dominant presence like Cousins to help spread the floor. Dallas is 19th in the league in points scored in the paint (39.5) and its 41.1 boards (21st in the league) could use a sizable increase as well.
But do the Mavericks have what it takes to land Cousins?
Dallas wouldn't think twice about bringing Chris Kaman off the bench, and the Mavericks are anything but short on veteran presence, but who does this team give up? Mayo's salary makes the financial aspect of such a deal possible, but is Dallas prepared to deal its leading scorer? Does Sacramento even want to get its hands on another guard?
The Mavs' interest in Cousins is completely warranted, and if a deal comes along that makes his coming to Dallas a reality, you can bet Cuban considers pulling the trigger.
Finding a deal, though, that meets financial stipulations and the needs of both teams—specifically the Kings—would be extremely difficult. Bordering on impossible.
3. Houston Rockets
Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports
I'm fully aware that the Houston Rockets have the youngest team in the NBA, but I'm also aware that Kevin McHale and his coaching staff are no joke.
As reported by Sam Amick, the Rockets are one of the teams that has expressed interest in Cousins. And you know what? That makes perfect sense—Omer Asik and all.
Though Houston is averaging the third-most points per game (105.3), its 29th-ranked defense is allowing 103.8. Cousins' presence would help shore up the middle in ways that Asik just can't.
While the Rockets are a young faction, Cousins also stands to thrive on offense alongside the playmaking stylings of James Harden and Jeremy Lin. He's never had the opportunity to play alongside a formidable backcourt, and would surely welcome the opportunity to run the pick-and-roll with either Harden or Lin.
My biggest concern with him joining the Rockets, though, would be Asik. I couldn't see these two playing alongside each other. Cousins can play some power forward, but Asik would clog up the paint more than anything else.
If Houston is willing to relegate Asik to the bench, though, then it's a different story. Doing so would ensure that his and Cousins' minutes are staggered as much as possible, and thus diminish the chance that this pairing proves counterproductive.
For perhaps the first time on this list as well, the Rockets are anything but short on young talent to offer up. Versatile frontcourt members such as Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Morris and Terrence Jones would certainly catch Sacramento's attention.
But would one or two of them, along with draft picks be enough? Would the Kings insist Chandler Parsons be included as well?
I personally wouldn't give up Parsons in any such deal. That said, if the price proves to be right, Cousins stands to be that defense-compressing presence that ultimately propels the Rockets to title contention.
2. Denver Nuggets
USA TODAY Sports
If you're wondering whether or not the Denver Nuggets would be a good fit for Cousins, wonder no more—because they are.
According to Amick, they're also one of the big man's rumored suitors.
Surprised? You shouldn't be.
The Nuggets are eighth in points scored (101.9) and first in rebounds (46.2) per game, but they're 24th in points allowed (100). Cousins' top-notch shot-blocking immediately enhances Denver's defensive attack, and he even strengthens the Nuggets' cause on the glass and offensive side of the ball as well.
As far as Cousins' attitude goes, that would be of little to no concern for the Nuggets. George Karl and his staff have handled JaVale McGee tremendously well, and the once-confused big man is now thriving off the pine as a result. Toss in the veteran point guard stylings of Andre Miller, and grounding Cousins is nearly a non-issue.
Some may be worried about playing time, but logic would dictate that the Nuggets would have to relinquish Kosta Koufos and/or Timofey Mozgov to make this work, so minutes should open up.
Broken-record style, though, what the Nuggets have to offer the Kings is unclear. Draft picks are a must, but outside of that, Denver doesn't have much.
Yes, the Nuggets have plenty of talent, but none of it is exactly cheap. If Sacramento is somehow captivated by a Mozgov and Koufos dynamic, then consider all concerns quelled.
Something tells me it's not going to be that easy, though.
After all, with Cousins, it never is.
1. Boston Celtics
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Demarcus Cousins would blossom into a superstar with the Boston Celtics.
Not only do the Celtics—who are last in rebounds per game—desperately need his inside presence on both ends of the floor, but if anyone can whip Cousins into shape, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers can.
Which is why we're less than shocked that Amick reports Boston is among those inquiring about Cousins' availability. Quite frankly, these two parties need each other.
With the Celtics, Cousins would be surrounded by the excess of veterans his broken persona dictates he needs while also becoming the subject of Rivers' sideline-meandering affections. That alone is cause to predict Boston would instantly become the contender it was supposed to be.
But do we actually foresee an accord being agree upon here?
Personally, I would love to see Cousins on the Celtics, but I'd also love to walk arm-in-arm with Kate Upton. Much like the latter, the former just isn't going to happen.
As Kurt Heilin of Pro Basketball Talk explains, there are plenty of teams who could offer much more than Boston can. I get that talents like Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and even Fab Melo have promise, but none of them have Cousins-esque potential.
In the interest of full disclosure, I only see this deal being done if Rajon Rondo is somehow thrown in the mix. Sacramento would undoubtedly be willing to send along a few more pieces to make the money work then.
And yet, the Celtics are about as likely to dangle Rondo as Ms. Upton is to accept one of my dinner requests.
Translation? It's time for Boston look elsewhere.