Let me be clear about something before we dive into this.
The Boston Celtics should not be considering making any trades at the moment. They are playing their best basketball of the season. And, not surprisingly, their best basketball has coincided with the return of Avery Bradley. For that reason, GM Danny Ainge should take a couple of weeks to assess the situation first and see where his team stands then.
Should Ainge feel that Boston is inconsistent and appears in need of a significant change, he should act accordingly. However, if the C's are still rolling and youngsters like Jared Sullinger continue to improve, he really shouldn't do anything more than add a decent big man for some depth and rim protection.
Now that we've had that discussion and it's out of the way, there is one player whose name has been popping up incessantly in trade rumors with the Celtics over the past couple of weeks and could be the team' primary target should they decide to pursue a trade. The player is Sacramento Kings' big man DeMarcus Cousins, the problematic 22-year-old who has already been suspended twice this season; once by the NBA and once by the Kings themselves.
It's no secret that Cousins has attitude issues. It was known when he came into the league in 2010 that he was a work in progress in terms of his maturity. He was just so talented that you pretty much had to take the risk.
This is a 6'11", 270 lb. behemoth who can do things that some guards cannot even do consistently. See for yourself below.
After a relatively slow start this year (by his standards), Cousins has exploded as of late and is now averaging a double-double for the second straight season. He is an absolute animal in many facets of the game, particularly on the glass. Cousins led the league in offensive rebounds during the 2011-12 campaign, and in 2012-13, he is putting up fairly similar numbers. As a matter of fact, Cousins ranks eighth in the league in total rebound percentage at 18.9 percent.
Given that Boston is currently the worst rebounding team in the league, Cousins' presence would pay dividends. It would also give the C's two top-20 players in total rebound percentage (Sullinger ranks 18th).
Could Doc Rivers' club use someone like Cousins inside, or what? He would fit perfectly next to Kevin Garnett and form the meanest and (arguably) best frontcourt in the NBA. He would also have both Rivers and Garnett as mentors to help him develop both physically and emotionally.
Is there a better fit for Cousins than Boston in that regard?
None of us are inside Cousins' head, but logic would tell you that part of the reason as to why Cousins has been so disruptive in Sacramento is due to the team's lack of success. This is DeMarcus' third year with the Kings, and they never have been in any kind of playoff contention. That has to be frustrating, and it only exacerbates the volatile situation between the center and the Sacramento front office.
If Cousins were dealt to Boston, he would be a part of a winning environment and that could potentially be huge for his growth. Maybe Cousins will never completely shed his attitude issues, but you would think that he would, at the very least, improve upon his erratic behavior with K.G., Rivers, and Paul Pierce constantly barking in his ear along with actual team success.
As far as Cousins' actual game goes, many have expressed concern over his shot selection. Based on the fact that he is shooting 42.7 percent from the floor, those concerns hold weight. On the Celtics, however, he'd learn to play in the post from one of the best bigs the league has ever seen in Garnett. Plus, Boston already has a few good mid-range jump shooting big men in K.G., Brandon Bass and Sullinger, so Cousins would almost be forced to spend most of his time on the low block.
Also, say what you want about Cousins' questionable shot selection, but he averages 5.7 free throws per game. The kid gets to the line. And on a team like the C's where he would likely be occupying the low post more, he is only going to draw more contact. Cousins has incredible footwork down low and knows how to use his body to go after defenders. He hits his free throws, too, as the Kentucky product is shooting 77.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Cousins excels as a passer as well, and is augmenting his level of play in that area. After compiling a 9.5 percent assist rate last year, Cousins has increased that to 15.7 percent. His turnover rate has also dropped considerably since his rookie campaign, falling to 12.7 percent all the way from 18.5.
How many big men can do this in the open floor?
With Doc trying to limit Garnett's minutes as much as possible, having someone like Cousins to rely on would be tremendous. This is particularly true on the defensive end. While Cousins may not exactly be a great defender, he is a big body who takes up space in the lane. When K.G. goes to the bench, Rivers can at least know that he'll have the 6'11", 270-pound Cousins in there rather than Bass or Chris Wilcox.
Again, right now, the Celtics need to tread carefully. They are playing great basketball and appear to be coming together. The last thing they need to do is shake up the team and destroy any of the chemistry they seem to have developed recently.
If they begin to struggle again, though, expect Ainge to instantly be on the phone with Kings' GM Geoff Petrie.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of January 8, 2013.