Now that the KD2DC dream is dead and gone, there’s been a lot of chatter about the next way for the Wizards to acquire a superstar to pair with John Wall. The name that seems to keep coming up the most is DeMarcus Cousins. Regardless of how you feel about his antics or some of his shortcomings on the floor, there’s no question he would add to the Wizards’ overall talent and address the team’s need for an efficient scorer.
You could also argue that Washington might be one of the best landing spots for Cousins. He would get to reunite with John Wall, his good friend and former teammate at Kentucky. Plus, Scott Brooks is probably better suited than most NBA coaches to get the best out Cousins, based on his track record of player development.
On top of that, part of the appeal for Washington is that they’ve reunited talented college teammates before (Chris Webber and Juwan Howard say hello). So it’s easy to understand why local fans are intrigued by the idea, heck even national media types like Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated think it would be good get Cousins in Washington.
Problem is, as nice as the pairing sounds, there’s no reason to think anything will come together this summer. Here are a few reasons why:
There’s no reason for Sacramento to make a trade right now
DeMarcus Cousins is still under contract for two full seasons, so it’s not like they’re in a Russell Westbrook situation where they need to figure out a way to recoup value before he leaves for nothing. They have time to put a roster around him that can compete for the playoffs before they need to consider making a move.
There are also big economic reasons why it would be bad for the Kings to trade DeMarcus Cousins this summer. The Kings are set to move into a new arena this fall. They need a big name to help sell season tickets and capitalize on the buzz of a new building.
If you go back and look at every team that’s opened a new arena in recent history, they’ve all made aggressive moves to ensure their team would be playoff-ready when they opened their new arena, save for expansion teams or franchises locating to a new city. Say what you want about Cousins’ tricky relationship with the Kings, it’s hard to imagine them not trying to give it one more shot with everything that’s at stake for them this season.
Washington doesn’t have many assets to trade right now
Quickly, let’s go through the Wizards roster and try to cobble pieces together to make a trade work:
- Everyone the Wizards signed to a contract during free agency (including Bradley Beal) - Can’t be traded until December 15.
- John Wall - Kinda defeats the point if you include him in the trade.
- Marcin Gortat - Nice player on a solid deal, but the Kings already have Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein, Giorgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissierre who can play the center position.
- Markieff Morris - Nice player on a solid deal. However, you’d have to assume if the Kings are trying to move on from the DeMarcus Cousins era, they probably don’t want to bring on someone like Morris, who hasn’t always handled himself the best in adverse situations.
- Otto Porter - Intriguing prospect who has developed every year, but the Kings would only get one year with him before they’d have to decide what to do with him in restricted free agency next summer.
- Kelly Oubre - A young, intriguing prospect who still has three years left on his rookie deal. He would be a nice add-in on any trade package, but certainly not a guy who could be the centerpiece of a Cousins deal at this time.
- Future picks - Washington has control of all their future first round picks, but they probably won’t move the needle much for Sacramento, since those wouldn’t be lottery picks for Sacramento unless Washington elects not to protect the picks and the Wall-Cousins pairing is a complete disaster.
Needless to say, a package featuring Porter, Oubre, and a couple future late first-round picks probably isn’t enough to make Sacramento make a move this summer. This also connects with our last point.
If Cousins does become available, other teams have better trade packages to offer
When teams decide it’s time to move on from a superstar player, generally they want to get a player or a pick back that has the chance to give them their next superstar. With all due respect to Porter and Oubre, the only player on the Wizards roster who has that potential is Bradley Beal, and as we all know, he comes saddled with risks that might cap his potential.
Plus, Beal is no longer on his rookie deal, which makes him a bit harder to trade. Next season, he will make over $5 million more than Cousins. Why would Sacramento trade for someone who hasn’t proven as much and will be more expensive? Even if the Wizards take back Rudy Gay’s bloated salary, it still doesn’t make a lot of sense financially from Sacramento’s perspective unless Beal can take a big step forward next season.
And even if Beal does develop into the kind of star the Kings could build around, he’s still going to provide less bang-for-buck than some of the young assets teams like the Celtics and Lakers could offer if the Kings put him on the trade market.
Now that the Wizards are essentially capped out between now and 2018-19, Washington should be doing everything it can to develop what they have to cultivate an enticing trade package for a star. But now isn’t the time to make their push to lure in a big fish. As things stand, they simply don’t have the pieces to land Cousins, or anyone else of his ilk that could be available in a trade.
But if someone in their young core, whether it be Beal, Porter, or Oubre can find a way to take a big step forward next season, perhaps then Washington will be in a position where they can talk to teams about making a big trade. Until then, they should be devoting all their resources to making stars out of what they already have.