The Wizards have steadily built a team that has a basketball-first mindset during the John Wall Era. After a disappointing 2015-16 season when they missed the playoffs, they are now trying to solidify their core as Wall enters his prime.
Earlier this month, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee reported that Kings center DeMarcus Cousins would likely be on the trade block, at least for exploratory discussions. Here's a portion of Voisin's report:
When asked if Karl’s termination meant he is committed to Cousins, who clashed repeatedly and angrily with Karl, Divac was uncharacteristically evasive.
"Anything about the players and how we are going to do in the summer," he said, "I don’t want to talk about right now because our focus is to find a new coach."
A year ago, Cousins was untouchable. A year later, the sense within the organization is Divac is tempted by the prospect of pairing his center with his personally selected coach but that he has become increasingly frustrated by his center’s ongoing issues and, for the first time, is willing to test the market for the two-time All-Star.
There will be a number of teams that will inquire about Cousins this summer, and the Wizards could very well be one of those teams.
Reasons why the Wizards should acquire Cousins
- Cousins is a two-time NBA All-Star and a member of the 2014 FIBA World Cup team that won the gold medal in Spain. Bottom line, Cousins is one of the best centers in the NBA on an individual level. He averaged 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds a game in 2015-16, excellent stats for anyone in the ASsociation.
- The Wizards still need additional younger players in the low post positions. Marcin Gortat may be a "young" 32 because he did not play many minutes early in his career. But he's still 32. In addition, don't expect to see most of last year's low post rotation back because they are now free agents across the board.
- Cousins is a long-time friend of John Wall's, dating back to their freshman year at Kentucky in 2009. If the coaches can't keep him reined in, perhaps Wall can.
- Kevin Durant is no guarantee this summer. If the Wizards can't bring in KD, Cousins would be as good of an alternative as any because he is able to put up big numbers and is two years younger than Durant.
- If Cousins does not work out in Washington, his contract expires in the 2017-18 season, so he's not entirely a long-term risk like Nene was when was acquired in the 2011-12 season.
Reasons why the Wizards should not acquire Cousins
- Cousins has a track record for wearing out his coaches and teammates during his NBA career. You have to wonder whether the Wizards want that possibly happening here. Also, keep in mind that Wall was Cousin's teammate for one season at Kentucky when they were teenagers. Today, they are in their mid-20's and have developed under different sets of coaches and circumstances. If the Wizards don't think that Brooks, Wall, and others are able to keep Cousins in check, then they should not pursue him.
- If the Wizards acquire Cousins, they will have to part ways with many of their coveted assets. We get that Wall won't be in any deal for Cousins, but Gortat, a sign-and-trade deal involving Bradley Beal, future first round picks, and Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre Jr. would likely be in any such package for Cousins and perhaps another player from Sacramento. That will alter the Wizards' chemistry quite a bit at the top of the roster.
My verdict? Make sure the Wizards have the leadership to support Cousins before pursuing him
The Wizards can go in many directions this summer to improve their team. However, I would like to see them re-sign Beal in order to keep the backcourt together.
Ultimately, I'm not entirely convinced that Cousins would be a great fit in Washington because of his past clashes with teammates and coaches. But Cousins could be a good basketball fit in Washington and change his perception over time. The Wizards just need to make sure that Brooks, Wall, and others can provide the leadership and the tough love when needed to make sure that that happens if he is in Washington.