According to league sources, a Cousins-to-Celtics trade was never going to happen because the Celtics have never had interest in acquiring him. There never were trade talks. There never were offers. Cousins-to-Boston was mostly a pipe dream concocted on the airwaves. It was never a reality, according to the sources.
The Celtics, a source said, simply could not overlook all the warning signs that were associated with Cousins. The forward played for six coaches during his stay in Sacramento, and Celtics staffers had spoken to most of them at various times after they left that organization.
And time and again, any mention of Cousins turned ominous, the source said.
The Kings ultimately traded Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 top-three protected first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Marc Stein of ESPN.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could have trumped that offer had he been so inclined. The Celtics own the Brooklyn Nets' 2017 and 2018 first-round picks along with a number of young, intriguing players such as 2016 first-round pick Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jae Crowder.
Some combination of those assets and players could have been more appealing than what the Kings received, though it's worth noting Sacramento's front office is reportedly enamored with Hield, per Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com:
Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA
There were objectively better deals available for the Kings, but since they think so highly of Buddy Hield, that's the direction they went.2017-2-20 05:50:10
Baxter Holmes @BaxterHolmes
Source familiar w/ Kings’ thinking: "Vivek thinks Buddy [Hield] has Steph Curry potential.” Am told that fixation was a key driver in deal.2017-2-20 19:07:14
But the Celtics were never biting. Not even close.
As Himmelsbach wrote: "Privately, Celtics executives had found humor in the media's incessant mention of Cousins as a possible trade target in recent seasons, all along knowing there was no interest on their end."
"I'm glad it’s finally over," a team source added, per Himmelsbach.
Trade talk for the Celtics isn't over, however. Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report tweeted that the team is focusing on landing Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler, while Stein reported on Monday's Mike & Mikeradio show (h/t that the team had interest in Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.
The Celtics have a ton of assets, a strong core to build around and are chasing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. They are a prime contender for a deal, thus making them a conduit for trade rumors.
The team's apparent lack of interest in Cousins is a reminder that Ainge won't part with those assets for any given superstar, however.