Big O Tires

The Ranadive Paradox: Every choice Kings face almost guarantees failure

The Ranadive Paradox: Every choice Kings face almost guarantees failure

Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac declared he had a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins two days before he took the New Orleans Pelicans offer, which means that this is not the worst trade in the history of the franchise.

It is, however, the one that best explains the history of the franchise.

The cavalcade of Kingsiana, from their halcyon days in Rochester to their fringes-of-good years in Cincinnati to their mostly thin years in Kansas City and Omaha down to the desiccated decades in Sactown, is summed by this – Boogie Cousins, a disputatious star traded for less than he was worth and for less than they could have gotten a couple of days before.

[RELATED: Report: Vivek Ranadive thinks Buddy Hield has Steph Curry potential]

And in its wake, a battered marketplace turns on itself yet again to rage against the amorphous blob of a team they horship and loathe in alternate moments. The fans are left to argue among themselves whether Cousins is better or worse than no Cousins, and whether the reward for no Cousins was sufficient.

Now they know, from their general maanger’s mouth. It wasn’t. Yay Kings!

The pro-Boogie and anti-Boogie factions break down along simple party lines. The anti-Boogies explain that Cousins was a volatile, ball-hogging non-leader who also was an easily distracted rage-a-holic who never made the Kings better than they were, and that any trade that removed him (and to a lesser extent the freshly waived Matt Barnes) could only help team and organizational chemistry.

But the pro-Boogie folks, while acknowledging his manifest faults, point out one thing the anti-Boogie folks cannot refute, namely:

There is no guarantee that this front office would take whatever bounty it received in a Cousins trade and not turn it into yet another colossal mess along the lines of everything they have ever done in the years bracketing the Rick Adelman Era.

And yes, this predates the Vivek Ranadive Era, although his unhealthy obsession with the Warriors has tinged his decision-making to the point in which he said that Buddy Hield has “Stephen Curry potential.”

Hey, thanks for that one, boss. You want to make Tyreke Evans Michael Jordan, or the second-round pick the reincarnation of Wilt Chamberlain? Or maybe just cut to the chase and say, “I am now going to make Buddy Hield’s future a horror show of unmet/unjustified/unrequested expectations?”

[RELATED: Isaiah Thomas' reaction to DeMarcus Cousins trade includes an 'LOL']

The point here is that Ranadive isn’t all that undermines the monarchy, but he is the first truly megawealthy Kings owner to maintain the low standards that have dogged the franchise since the early 1950s. The rest of the time, they could plead short-walleted owners, unresponsive audiences or miscellaneous meatheadery. Now, they have plenty of money, an avid fan base and . . . well, two out of three keeps you out of the playoffs if the third one isn’t solved.

Besides, while this trade will be marked as one that was meant to get DeMarcus Cousins out of town, the enduring problem is still right there. The Kings do things like this because they are the Kings, in the same way that the Warriors used to do stupid things because they were the Warriors. In that way, Ranadive has achieved his aim to be more Warrior than the Warriors. He just got the timeline horribly wrong.

And now we have this deal, which cannot be explained except by invoking two essentially untenable concepts – getting rid of your best player just because he is a monumental irritant and leaving the mechanism that makes deals like this necessary (a record held by many), and the idea that making yourself worse now is just making yourself better eventually (now known as the Hinkie Paradox).

Teams that have to tank almost always put themselves in that position because they are poorly run. People point to the San Antonio Spurs’ one year of suck before the Tim Duncan draft in 1997, but the Spurs’ history has almost exclusively a parade of winning teams going back to the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

The Kings? They’ve had 11 winning seasons in that time, and every choice that confronts them now almost guarantees failure. That is the Ranadive Paradox.

The Cousins deal is endemic of who the Kings are, what they are, and what they have almost always been. It is, to strain the analogy, a bit like the Oscar Robertson deal in 1970, when the best player in franchise history raged against years of failure and his own coach, Bob Cousy, and was moved to Milwaukee for the talent haul of Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk. Robertson landed with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won one NBA title and two division titles in the collaboration and ended his career far more cheerily than at any time in Cincinnati.

Nobody thinks the Pelicans are similarly positioned, although comparing Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Davis is comparing generational with brilliant. But most folks agree that the Kings dealt their best player from a position of profound and ongoing weakness that they have built for themselves, didn’t get what they could have but are almost certain to get what they deserve.

Again.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

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?

Yeah. Right.

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.

Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

The NBA All-Star break will last seemingly forever, but we have two great opportunities between now and next Thursday (no games until Thursday? What fresh hell is this?) to treat the audience to something new and enjoyable before James Dolan decides to start banning Willis Reed from Madison Square Garden.
 
In other words, cue Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. This is right up their individual wheelhouses.

Simply, we want to see which of them wants to become the first player in All-Star Game history to get a technical foul. 
 
That’s right, no player has ever been T’d up in an All-Star Game, which is amazing since Rick Barry got called for 30 personal fouls in his All-Star career and fouled out twice, and agreed with every call? That’s demonstrably implausible on its face.
 
You may be less surprised by this fact because the All-Star Game has become a game played for laughs and layups. Nobody gets fouled, nobody gets mad, nobody has a tantrum – it’s all snicks, giggles and no-host drinking from start to finish.
 
But there is an opportunity for either high drama or low comedy this weekend in New Orleans that could energize an otherwise mega-meh event. And frankly, Boogie and Dray are our best bets.
 
Yes, we are ignoring the idea of a Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drawdown, mostly because while it is clear the two gentlemen are going to let their snit fester awhile, it is equally evident that neither would ruin the weekend for their fellow players by being caught giving the media hellhounds what they crave – a series of easy stories that make the event less relentlessly tedious.

And we all know how little they want to serve any media-based agendas.
 
We also won’t get a lot of drama from Charles Oakley or Li’l Jimmy, because everyone agrees that Dolan is a raging jackwagon, and you can’t have drama without people on both sides of an argument.
 
No, this looks like a job for Boogie and Day Day.
 
Cousins and Green have as part of their reputations a penchant for disputatious behavior that catches the eye and ear of your average official. Cousins leads the 
league in technical fouls with 17, and Green, though less consistent, picked up two Wednesday night from Ronnie Garretson and now sits just off the pace in fifth place with 10.
 
Westbrook would have 13 if not for two that were rescinded by the league’s hall monitor division, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers has 12 and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan has 11, but Cousins and Green are the two guys you think of first when it comes to back-sass. They are what the nation demands here.

Thus, one of them could decide, just on the basis of entertainment value and Twitter trendage, to get into the grills of one of Sunday’s officials (Ed Malloy, Ken Mauer and Tom Washington, in case you had a bet on it). I mean, there’s history to be made here, and surely one of them could hustle up a sponsor to get paid for the T. Say, the American Civil Liberties Union.
 
But there is another avenue for Green, and that is in the celebrity game he is helping to coach. Yes, someone had to draw the shortest straw of the weekend, and sitting through the Kevin Hart Cares Way Too Much Memorial Game is Green's.

Though there has never been a technical foul rained upon a player (hell, there hasn’t been a player foul out since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987), there is one coach to get one – the redoubtable Red Auerbach, who got thrown out of the 1967 game in the Cow Palace by Willie Smith and Earl Strom, with the kicker being that he had retired from active coaching the year before, and might have been playing it for laughs himself. After all, he coached an old-timers game, the ’84 game and got tossed from that one as well, the cranky little elf.
  
Here lies another opportunity for Green to win some eyeballs with the simple act of snapping over some bogus foul call against Candace Parker or Baron Davis, or even better, getting into a shouting match on the bench with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is playing on Green's team.
 
I mean, under what other circumstances would you watch this sneakered B-list-and-below tire fire? Draymond Green doesn’t owe us a snap, but the game could use one, and he is better qualified than anyone – except, now that we think of it, Cuban.
 
Green and Cousins should then double down on Sunday and double-team Malloy (he’s the official who looks like a coat rack on wheels), or Mauer (he’s the official who looks like he had his hair styled at a Lego factory) to get one each, maybe at the same moment, even if it’s just for comedy value.
 
I mean, the T’s wouldn’t count against their regular season totals, people would laugh, highlight clips would be enhanced, and Adam Silver could come from the stands and fine them each a quintazillion units of money from a country that no longer exists. It’s a cavalcade of cheap laughs in a game that had 369 points a year ago and can use all the useful comedy it can get. 
 
And on the rule of thumb that if you’re gonna go, go big, the weekend is in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green. Let your inner complaints department run free, gentlemen. It’s good for the game. Trust us.