Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has been the center of swirling trade rumors this offseason. While the Kings and Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly discussed a potential deal, Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive and vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac have both denied the center is available on the trade market.
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Karl Admits Kings Had Hypothetical Trade Discussions Involving Cousins
Thursday, July 15
Ken Berger of CBS Sports provided comments from head coach George Karl, who said the team had closed-door discussions regarding moving Cousins:
"As a coach, in meetings every year and maybe four or five times a year, you talk about what-ifs. And 99 percent of what-ifs never happen. But isn't it our job to talk about what-ifs? Does this make us better? Does this get us in a better place? That's our job.
There was never a discussion in that area even close to happening, in my opinion... Never in the whole time of this experience did I ever think that I wasn't going to coach Cuz."
On June 25, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated passed along what he was hearing in regard to George Karl's relationship with Ranadive, which sources told him was "deeply strained."
The rift reportedly stemmed from Karl offering "no objection to a long-term relationship" with Cousins prior to being hired by the Kings, per Mannix, who noted now Ranadive believes Karl never wanted the star player. However, Stein noted the internal dismay with Karl is coming from Divac "far more" than Ranadive.
Also seemingly strained is the relationship between Karl and Cousins, who posted a cryptic tweet regarding his situation:
Karl was reportedly the leading force in trying to move Cousins, according to Wojnarowski, who added: "Karl has been recruiting Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and multiple players on the Kings' roster to unite with him in making the case to owner Vivek Ranadive that Cousins needs to be traded, league sources said."
Lakers Reportedly Willing to Trade Russell in Potential Cousins Deal
Sunday, June 28
Mark Heisler of Forbes reported the Lakers are still interested in Cousins and would trade D'Angelo Russell as part of a deal after drafting the Ohio State product with the second overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft.
Prior to selecting Russell, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports revealed on June 24 the Lakers and Kings had exchanged the framework of a deal that would send Cousins to Los Angeles:
Divac has pursued a possible deal that would include a bevvy of assets, including the Lakers' No. 2 pick in Thursday's NBA draft, rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson and other draft assets, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Sacramento also would want to unload the remainder of forward Carl Landry's two years, $13.5 million contract, league sources said.
On June 24 Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News cited a source "familiar with Cousins' thinking" that "DeMarcus wants to be a Laker. It's up to the two sides to make a deal."
Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported on June 22 the Lakers were in the market for Cousins' services. He also noted the Orlando Magic were involved in the talks and would have sent Nikola Vucevic to Sacramento as part of a three-team deal, though Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reported otherwise.
Cousins has also been linked to the Nuggets, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, who noted on June 23 that Karl "is enamored with the idea of a deal that would send Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler to Sacramento."
Despite the rumor mill surrounding Cousins, management has publicly expressed a desire to keep him, with Divac speaking on the subject on June 26 to Sacramento radio station KHTK 1140 (h/t Sam Amick of USA Today):
I just was tired last week, or days, of these rumors, and putting a lot of stuff on our back, making this even harder than it is. I try to be who I am, and try to do my job best I can and try to do the best I can for the franchise. I'm not going to let somebody change my mind because they're putting (threats in) the paper or putting the pressure on me. I'll do the best I can to improve this team."
"We have to go forward and try to make it a healthy environment and try to have a good team for next year.
"Look, we're going to have ups and downs in the next couple months. And you're going to hate me, you're going to love me, but believe me I'm going to do the best I can to make this thing work. With me, with DeMarcus, with George, or without me, without DeMarcus, without George, I don't know. But we'll make it work.
Ranadive also doesn't want to deal Cousins, saying on June 22, "We have zero interest in moving Cousins, so I don't know where that's coming from," according to Amick.
Even with some of the issues Cousins has had with the organization in the past, it would be surprising if the Kings got rid of him. Cousins averaged 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game this past season, continuing his ascension as one of the league's best centers.