Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is rumored to be in hot pursuit of the Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Boston is one of a few teams interested in the mercurial center.
On the court, Cousins is exactly what the Celtics need. Boston doesn’t have a quality center to score, defend the paint, rebound and get teammates open. He’s an extremely talented player with uncommon athleticism, handle and passing skills. Cousins has the size that would allow him to dominate in the Eastern Conference.
And at just 22 years old, Cousins would be Boston’s franchise center for years to come, with the opportunity to have his name go down in Celtics lore alongside Bill Russell and Robert Parrish. Cousins’ potential is that good.
How the Celtics are able to facilitate a trade for Cousins is anyone’s guess. If Rajon Rondo is off limits, the young talent Boston can offer (Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Jeff Green, Kris Joseph) doesn’t come close to being equal value. Sacramento really doesn’t need Sullinger, as the Kings just drafted PF Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick overall.
Boston also has just one first-round selection in the upcoming NBA draft. And even if the Celtics were willing to take a bad contract or two, they don’t have any substantial expiring contracts to allow Sacramento to save money next year.
Unless the Celtics can get other teams involved, they probably can’t put together a package on their own that’s appealing to the Kings.
Just for fun, suppose Ainge figures out a way to acquire Cousins. Can the Celtics convince Cousins to fall in line and behave himself? Cousins has been suspended three times this season, the latest for arguing with head coach Keith Smart. Cousins is quickly accumulating a rap sheet of bad behavior, with several transgressions highlighted by SI.com in December:
During his three-year career with the Kings, Cousins has been benched for flashing a “choking” sign to an opponent; thrown off the team plane after a dispute with a teammate; and fined by the organization for undisclosed reasons. He also reportedly argued with former coach Paul Westphal, which led to rumors of a possible trade request. Over the summer, Cousins participated in USA Basketball’s Select training program. Chairman Jerry Colangelo told reporters in July that Cousins “has some growing up to do” and that he “needs to mature as a person.”
Many believe the situation in Sacramento is contributing to Cousins’ bad attitude. While losing can have an effect on an individual, will Cousins turn into a team player after joining a struggling Celtics team?
The atmosphere to convert Cousins in Boston is great. He would get instructions from Doc Rivers, a coach that has the clout that Cousins should respect. Boston is a veteran team with strong leadership from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And Rajon Rondo would make the game easy for Cousins. The ingredients are there for Cousins to flourish.
But it goes back to Cousins’ temper that he refuses to get counseling for. Rivers is a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is coach. Will Cousins blow up at Rivers’ brutal honesty?
How will Cousins react to Garnett’s tough mentorship? Garnett once had Glen Davis crying on the bench during a game after Garnett had harsh words for him. Will Cousins keep his mouth shut and take it or is he more likely to throw a punch at Garnett when the veteran gets in his face?
With the Celtics still trying to figure themselves out, Ainge has to decide if he still has hope in the team or if they’re done. If it’s the former, the last thing the Celtics need to acquire is a caustic player that can upset the locker room.
If Ainge believes the latter and wants to blow up the team, then trading for Cousins makes sense. What better way to do it than with a volatile individual known for emotional explosions? Teams need talent for rebuilding and arguably no young center has more of it than Cousins.
But this trade could turn disastrous if Cousins continues to lose control of his emotions. With the number of red flags surrounding Cousins, he’s the opposite of the United Nations.
After Sacramento quickly lifted Cousins’ suspension, he returned to the team and offered his apology. According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, some of his teammates are tired of Cousins’ act:
The team was surprised when Cousins showed up for practice on Christmas Eve, thinking the suspension was indefinite. Upon his arrival, "the Christmas spirit was gone," said the league source who is familiar with the Kings. And there was not much sympathy for him afterward when Cousins tried to apologize.
"When he apologized to the team, two players stood up and said 'we've heard this bull(bleep) before,'" the source said. "'You're either going to be with us, or you're not. We don't want to hear any more excuses.'"
Is this a player the Celtics want on their team?
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