There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.
But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.
Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.
Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.
Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.
As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.
You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.
In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.
But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.
This too is so Kingsy.
This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.
Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!
And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.
You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?
It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.
And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.
Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.
Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.
Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.
But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.
For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.
Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.
Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.
50/50 turned into 100 percent in the blink of an eye. CSN California has confirmed that pending league approval, the Sacramento Kings have dealt three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, as well as forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and a protected (1-3) 2017 first round pick and 2017 second round pick.
Vlade Divac chose the path of least resistance. Cousins, a larger than life personality, was not only ready to sign a $219 million extension in early July, but he was willing to stay in Sacramento for the long haul.
Be it financial constraints from owner Vivek Ranadivé or a complete break with reality, the second-year GM decided to break up the Kings’ core and start fresh with a below market value deal with the Pelicans.
Sacramento attempted to move up in the 2016 draft to take Hield, but the 23-year-rookie went with the sixth overall pick. He is averaging just 8.6 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting for New Orleans. He was tossed from his only game in Sacramento this season after grabbing Cousins below the waist during the team’s last homestand.
Kings fans know Evans very well from his four seasons in Sacramento. Who can forget the 20-5-5 season that led to Evans’ 2010 Rookie of the Year Trophy? But the talented wing has played in a combined 51 games over the last two season for New Orleans, slowed by a myriad of lower leg issues.
Evans is averaging just 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game for the Pelicans. At 27, he might have quality years ahead, but his history of injuries make him a giant question mark and his status as an unrestricted free agent might tell a broader story.
Galloway is a throw in on the deal. The three-year NBA veteran has struggled to find a niche with the Pelicans after two seasons with the Knicks, averaging 8.6 points in 20.4 minutes a night.
The real value in this deal lies in the potential first and second round picks that Sacramento received in the deal.
According to published reports, the first round pick is top three protected, although the Pelicans are likely to improve from their current 23-34 record. New Orleans currently sits tied for the eighth spot in the 2017 NBA Draft order if the season ended today.
Cousins was leading the Kings in almost every offensive category, including points (27.8), rebounds (10.7) and assists (4.9). His loss will likely prove catastrophic for the Kings’ playoff chances this season, despite trailing the Denver Nuggets by just 1.5 games in the standings with 25 games remaining.
Casspi has struggled throughout the season with injury and illness. He will get a fresh start in New Orleans after playing just 22 games for the Kings this year.
In order to make the proposed deal, the Kings will have to waive a player to make room for Hield, Evans and Galloway.
UPDATE: Was this the moment DeMarcus Cousins was told of the trade?
And this tweet from Cousins' camp has them in limbo:
We don't even know where to go... pic.twitter.com/NV1ySfJvun— Andrew Rogers (@Andrew_Rogers_) February 20, 2017