The Sacramento Kings are having a rough few days.
Sacramento currently stands at 13-22 in the competitive Western Conference, surrendering over 100 pointer per game while scoring just 96.5.
Since Sacramento cannot succeed as a franchise in its current situation, moves must be made to put the franchise back on track, and while the franchise's potential move to the Northwest still stands out as its biggest question, key players may also move amidst the activity.
The first player whose name has come up recently in trade rumors is power forward DeMarcus Cousins, who is currently averaging 17.2 point, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
While these statistics would normally make most general managers giddy, Cousins comes with some disciplinary baggage.
Since his days at Kentucky, Cousins has had a history of on and off the court outbursts. Immensely talented, Cousins could have been the top pick in the 2010 Draft, but he slipped behind the likes of Kentucky teammate John Wall, and stand outs Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, and Wesley Johnson because teams were afraid of his behavior problems.
Who's most likely to move by the end of the season?
In Sacramento, his problems continued.
Cousins was wildly inconsistent his rookie season and feuded with his coaches. These arguments came to a head when the Kings fired coach Paul Westphal in early 2012 because he and DeMarcus Cousins could not resolve their issues. Although Westphal had done a decent job with the Kings' personnel during his tenure, the Kings decided Cousins was more valuable.
Which leads us to this season's debacle: the Kings are still not playing well, and Cousins still has discipline issues. His relationship with coach Keith Smart is good and his statistics are solid, yet the Kings continue to lose basketball games.
Therefore, teams have been inquiring about Cousins in trade talks.
According to Kentucky Sports Radio, a source close to Cousins stated recently that Cousins' agent is shooting for a trade to the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks, the Charlotte Bobcats, or the Orlando Magic.
The Celtics have almost nothing to offer the Kings. Sacramento would probably ask for Rajon Rondo or Avery Bradley in a deal, and Boston will not part with either of those players unless a superstar without baggage is involved. Boston almost had a deal in place for Cousins around New Year's, but the deal fell apart.
His next reported desired destination, Dallas, does not have the pieces to offer Sacramento, and Dallas cannot take on much more salary, meaning a trade to the Mavericks is unlikely.
Next up is Charlotte. The Bobcats would need to add Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to any deal for Cousins, and they are unlikely to trade a well-performing top draft pick for a player that could set the franchise back after the strides it has made this season.
This leaves Orlando as the most likely suitor for Cousins.
The Magic have assets and cap space (thanks to the Dwight Howard trade exception) to make a deal work. Say Nikola Vucevic and Denver/New York's first round draft choice in 2014 for DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons. The Magic would add a potential superstar to their front court to pair with Glen Davis, while the Kings would get cap relief, a solid prospect with a friendly contract and ammunition with which to reload.
However, trading Cousins leaves the Kings with a big void in their front court.
Enter Tyreke Evans.
Evans was phenomenal as a rookie, becoming one of four players ever to average 20 PPG, 5 RPG and 5 APG in their rookie campaign. However, he has struggled more recently. Evans recently voiced his frustration with the franchise and his willingness to be traded. If the Kings trade Cousins, trading Evans as well would help bring in a big man to replace Cousins.
The Jazz just lost starting point guard Mo Williams to a thumb injury, and they need a ball-handler. They have a surplus of front court options, and are expected to trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap to make room for prospects Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Since Millsap's contract is friendlier, a trade for him seems more likely.
Evans, SG Marcus Thornton and a conditional first round pick or two for Paul Millsap, paired with either Jamaal Tinsley, Alec Burks or Randy Foye would give Sacramento more breathing room under the cap and a replacement for Cousins. Utah gets a new starting back court to take the pressure off Al Jefferson, a potentially high draft choice, while getting something back for Paul Millsap, instead of just losing him in free agency.
Although it remains to be seen who Sacramento will move, it seems likely someone will go before the end of the season.
Trade or not, the Sacramento Kings are poised to look vastly different by next season.