The Washington Wizards don't have to trade for DeMarcus Cousins. Let's make that very clear right from the jump. However, they should at least do their due diligence and see what it would take. They should at least place that phone call.
There's a lot not to like about Cousins. He has a history of being a tough guy to tame. There's enough smoke of him feuding with coaches where even Cousins' most ardent supporters have to admit that he needs a certain kind of guidance to succeed. On the court, he's still learning to play to his strengths, a process that has caused him to post poor shooting numbers for a player supposedly so dominant in the low post. All these are reasons why the Wizards shouldn't give up too much in any potential trade.
But there are a number of mitigating factors to consider. The obvious is the presence of John Wall. Remember that Wall is the cornerstone of the rebuilding project, and whether he ends up being the guy the Wizards expect him to be or not, the whole team depends on him. If he's getting frustrated with the pieces around him now, there needs to be lots of consideration made to bringing in someone he knows. Cousins and Wall have danced around the issue a bit, but if there's any player who could help keep Cousins in line, it's Wall. Again, something to keep in mind, not necessarily saying this is why the Wizards have to trade for him.
The other thing to consider is that the Kings' situation is really screwed up. As Tom Ziller wrote on Sactown Royalty, Paul Westphal's statement was among the most self-serving and pointless things I've ever seen released to the public. It's bizarre and it serves absolutely no purpose other than to humiliate Cousins. As Ziller notes on the mothership, this isn't out of character for Westphal, a coach who so thoroughly pissed off Gary Payton (a great player with similar anger issues to Cousins) in his last coaching stunt that no team other than the Kings considered him for a coaching vacancy in a decade. The Kings are also a roster of mismatched parts, a product of general manager Geoff Petrie's ill-advised rebuilding plan of "throw a bunch of youngsters together with no guidance and see what sticks." (This is the danger of a Capitals-like rebuilding plan, by the way). None of this is to say Cousins is an angel, but there's ample reason to believe he can be rehabilitated in a better environment.
We're getting all the requisite denials from Kings management, so maybe Cousins won't get dealt. But as a means of exploring all avenues to improve, the Wizards need to make the call. There are risks, which is why I would hesitate to give up too much. But here's my offer to the Kings, keeping all these things in mind:
Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford OR Kevin Seraphin and a draft pick (top 10 protected in 2012, top seven in 2013, top five in 2014) FOR Cousins and Francisco Garcia
No way I'm including JaVale McGee in the deal, because he's finally starting to emerge. I'm also not including Jan Vesely without seeing him play a game, and I'm not including Chris Singleton either. However, if there's a way to move Blatche (a priority because I don't think having him and Cousins in the same locker room is a good idea), the Wizards should think about it.
Essentially, this deal works out as two trades.
- TRADE 1: Cousins for the protected draft pick. With this draft being deep, I'm making sure I'm careful with the protections. Structuring it this way seems like the safest way to make it valuable and still preserve the chance to add another building block in a deep draft.
- TRADE 2: Dump Blatche and add one young player as incentive and get Garcia, a good vet with a so-so deal ($5.8 million this year, $6.1 million in 2012-13, team option for $6.4 million in 2013-14) who can play both backcourt positions.
That's my offer to consider. Of course, the Wizards need to do tons of background research on Cousins to see if it's worth it, but that's work that needs to be done. From there, if Sacramento rejects, so be it. Like we said at the jump, the Wizards don't have to make this deal.
But it's worth a phone call at least.
(More links below the jump)
- More on the Cousins situation from J.A. Adande, CSN Washington and the Yahoo! Sports crew.
- Recaps of last night's game from us, Washington Post (blog, game story) Washington Times, Washington Examiner, CSN Washington, Truth About It, SB Nation Boston, ESPN Boston, WEEI, Celtics Hub, CSN New England, Celtics Blog, Boston Globe, Boston Herald,
- Former Washington Post beat writer Ivan Carter is now doing sideline reporting. Watch his interview with Ernie Grunfeld. [CSN Washington]
- Buck and Phil give JaVale McGee some credit. [CSN Washington]
- Hamady Ndiaye has been reassigned to the Iowa Energy [Press Release]