As Sacramento general manager Geoff Petrie told David Aldridge of NBA.com recently, the Kings have no plans of trading frustrated big man DeMarcus Cousins. That sentiment is now consistent both privately and publicly, and it's a change from the "he's not untouchable" stance taken in the days following his Dec. 23 suspension for yelling at coach Keith Smart at halftime of a Dec. 22 game. As for Tyreke Evans? The Kings will certainly listen to offers for the fourth-year guard and have shown legitimate interest in upgrading their roster either by moving him or anyone else not named Cousins.
As Amick points out, it's a switch from his recent reports that had the Kings willing to listen to offers for Cousins. And to a large degree, rightfully so, because the likelihood of the Kings getting equal value for Cousins is slim. That's because when he's motivated, like he's been lately, he's the best center in the NBA.
Magic Johnson just said DeMarcus Cousins is the most talented center in the NBA..Cousins getting love on the National Stage #KingsAllDay— Kingsscoop.com (@RealKingsscoop) January 5, 2013
One of the top centers in the NBA, at 22 years old, and still on a very affordable contract is a hot commodity, even if it's someone that comes with the baggage of Cousins. You don't trade an asset like that unless you get comparable value, which is hard to find. For that reason, I don't think the Kings will trade Cousins—because they can't get what they'd deem as equal value.
That said, here are five potential trades the Kings should be proposing.
With the Maloofs as owners, there's no guarantee the Sacramento Kings would be really active in the free-agent market, even if they had a lot of cap space to work with. That said, trading DMC for a couple quality players and some cap relief could be an option.
In this proposal, the Kings would send DeMarcus and John Salmons to Milwaukee for John Henson, Larry Sanders and Samuel Dalembert. The real player value is DMC for Henson and Sanders. In this respect, the Bucks would be getting the upper hand, as Cousins is a superior value to Sanders and Henson.
Salmons and Dalembert are thrown in for salary reasons. Dalembert has one year at $6.7 million remaining on his deal, while Salmons has three years at $8.1 million per year left on his deal. That means the Kings would be shedding a bad contract in Salmons and receiving cap space in Dalembert's expiring contract.
It's doubtful that Milwaukee would want to give up young players like Henson and Sanders because of Cousins' baggage. But the Kings would need some young, quality players and some cap relief to part with a payer of Cousins' caliber.
The Orlando Magic haven't been linked to any rumors involving Cousins, but they are one of the teams with enough young talent worth considering as a potential suitor.
This proposal comes from ESPN's Kevin Pelton, who wrote an article with five trade proposals involving Cousins. In this scenario, the Kings would trade Cousins to Orlando in exchange for Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic.
Once again, the Kings would get the short end of the stick in this projected swap, with the Magic increasing their projected wins by three games and the Kings decreasing theirs by three games.
But Sacramento would be getting a good, young center in Vucevic as part of the deal. Vucevic doesn't have the upside or current value of Cousins, and likely never will, but at least the Kings would be getting a young, starting-caliber center.
With the inclusion of Harkless, the Kings would be getting a player who's not ready to contribute much now but could be very good in the future. It's a gamble that Harkless will reach his potential, but if he does it could be a solid trade for the Kings. However, if DMC reaches his potential, virtually every trade would fall in favor of the acquiring team.
Still, the Kings could do worse than a future frontcourt of Harkless at the 3, Thomas Robinson at the 4, and Vucevic at the 5.
This is one of the more intriguing of Pelton's five trade proposals involving Cousins. In this offer, the Kings would send DMC to Boston and receive Avery Bradley, Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in return.
In this exchange, the Kings aren't getting close to equal value, with Boston expected to increase by six wins, while the Kings would decrease by eight wins.
In fact, the only reason to consider such a trade is the inclusion of Fab Melo, who has the type of upside the Kings would be giving up with Cousins. Even then, Melo is much more raw than Cousins, and while his ceiling may be comparable, his floor is much lower. Not to mention, despite two-plus years of experience over Melo, Cousins is actually two months younger.
As Pelton points out, "the track record of three-for-one trades in the NBA isn't very good for the teams getting multiple middle-of-the-road players. Making this deal would leave Sacramento with a deep group of role players in desperate need of a centerpiece, the hardest commodity to find -- and possibly the very kind of player the Kings are trading."
For that reason, this trade is unlikely to happen. The Kings would have to be desperate to make a deal like this. Although, unlike other proposals on this slideshow, this is one their trade partner would almost certainly do.
The Detroit Pistons are also one of the teams that are "highly interested" in trading for DeMarcus Cousins, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
Stein doesn't say what the Pistons would be willing to give up in order to acquire Cousins, but if I'm Sacramento, the only way I'm willing to listen is if the Pistons are willing to give up Greg Monroe for Cousins straight up.
They're both pretty comparable players in age, production and salary, making it a trade worth doing for the Kings. As the proposed trade points out, even with this deal, the Pistons would be increasing their expected win total by two games, while the Kings would be decreasing theirs by two games. So in that sense, the Pistons would be getting an advantage in acquiring Cousins.
The Kings, meanwhile, would be getting a very productive player in Monroe. He's not as good as DMC, but he also doesn't come with Cousins' baggage.
Because of Cousins' attitude problems, the Pistons probably wouldn't want to give up Monroe to acquire him. But if you're the Kings, why would you give him up without getting something fair in return?
Finding an effective big man is almost an unparalleled commodity in the NBA. Because of that, the Kings would need an impact player at a valuable position in return. Point guard is such a position, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have an excellent one in Kyrie Irving.
In this proposal, the Kings would send Cousins and Isaiah Thomas to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving. Even though this is a deal the Cavs would almost certainly turn down, they're getting the upper hand. According to the trade generator the Cavs would increase their projected wins by two games and the Kings would decrease theirs by four games.
Furthermore, although there are questions about Cousins, there are also questions about Irving, who has been injury-prone during his one year at Duke and during his one-plus years in the NBA. Irving only played in 51 of the Cavs' 66 games last season. And this season, he's played in 24 of the team's 35 games.
For what it's worth, DMC played in 81 of 82 games his rookie year, 64 of 66 games his second year and 29 of 34 games this year. The only real time he's missed has been due to suspensions. On the one hand, that's discouraging. On the other hand, if he can reel himself in and keep his cool, he's not likely to miss many games due to injury based on his track record.
Irving, meanwhile, for as great as he is, is missing games because of things that are out of his control. No matter how hard he tries, if he's injury-prone, he's injury-prone. There's nothing he can do to avoid it. But he'd be worth taking a gamble on for the Kings.
He'd give the Kings a potentially elite point guard, albeit one with injury concerns. In return, the Cavs would get a potentially elite center and a serviceable point guard in Thomas.
Even with all of Cousins' problems off the court, he's still an incredibly valuable commodity. Contrary to popular opinion, the Kings still have plenty of leverage in the situation. Sure, DMC only has one more year left on his contract, but he'll still only be a restricted free agent when the deal expires.
All the Kings would have to do to retain him is give him a qualifying offer, which they'll almost assuredly do. Then, because he's only a restricted free agent, they could match any offer he receives. And since they'll have the cap space and the ability to offer him more than any other team as part of the CBA, if the Kings want to keep him they'll be able to.
With that being the case, the only incentive for the Kings to trade Cousins is if they get equal value in return. Based on his reputation around the league, and the perception that the Kings need to trade Cousins, teams are unlikely to give up even close to equal value.
In fact, the majority of these trade proposals seem to favor the team receiving DMC, and even then, they're trades that the teams would be unwilling to do.
It'd be one thing if DeMarcus was only one year from unrestricted free agency. In that case, the Kings wouldn't have leverage and if they didn't trade Cousins, they'd risk losing him while getting nothing in return. But that's not the scenario.
All of which is to say, trading Cousins is an incredibly precocious situation, so don't expect him to be traded.