Soon after the 2017 NBA All-Star Game ended, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical announced that the New Orleans Pelicans will acquire DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, their 2017 first round and 2017 second round draft picks.
In short, it’s an uneven trade on paper because the Pelicans have a chance to make a playoff push with an All-Star frontcourt that also features Anthony Davis for the next year and a half. Cousins’ current contract expires in the 2017-18 season. For the Kings, they have a chance to rebuild in a post Cousins era, and without his well-noted temper over the years.
Let’s put this in perspective for the Wizards.
Cousins has always been a “dream target” for some Wizards fans since the day John Wall was drafted. But let me put it in my opinion: DeMarcus Cousins coming to Washington never was realistic in the first place for three reasons:
The Wizards don’t have the cap space to sign Cousins outright when he’s available
Folks, even if Cousins doesn't re-sign in New Orleans, the Wiz won't have the cap space to go after him in free agency— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) February 20, 2017
The Wizards have nearly $95 million in committed salaries for the 2017-18 season and nearly $97 million committed for the 2018-19 season, the first year that they could sign Cousins to the veteran’s minimum. But you know that’s not happening.
The Wizards committed big time to Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and Andrew Nicholson already
This reason is what’s going to make the anti-Ernie Grunfeld Wizards fans angry. The Wizards already signed these three posts to a combined $105,675,000 over the next four seasons.
Mahinmi and Nicholson will both be on the Wizards through the 2019-20 seasons barring a trade, neither of which seem likely. After all, Mahinmi just came back from injury, and Nicholson has hardly played in months, though you never know.
Why blow up the starting five while it’s working?
The Wall-Bradley Beal-Otto Porter-Markieff Morris-Marcin Gortat lineup is working very well.
If the Wizards did acquire Cousins, one realistic trade offer would probably involve sending Gortat plus some sweeteners to Sacramento. If they somehow sent Mahinmi there instead, then Gortat would be relegated to the bench by next season. I just don’t see Cousins being a superstar sixth man for half a season, even though he would get his fair share of minutes with Wall and the other starters.
Finally, I’ll talk about Gortat specifically, who’s now 33 years old. Yes, he is the oldest Wizards starter. But he has remained in excellent shape and is playing great fundamental basketball right now with his screen assists, reliable scoring, and durability. Next, the Wizards have Mahinmi to shoulder the load at the position as well and he’s back from injury now. The Wizards are set at the center position as is.
It’s not like Gortat is trying to play solely with athleticism like JaVale McGee did for the Wizards earlier this decade.
Closing Thoughts and Your Open Thread
I don’t have much to add on this trade. But if nothing else, the Wizards not sending or being in the conversation for Cousins — even with Cousins himself calling Wall the NBA’s best point guard is a vote of confidence in Gortat and Mahinmi. They are more than able to play the bulk of the minutes at the center position of an Eastern Conference contender.
Anyway, here’s your open thread on this latest twist in the DeMarcus Cousins saga, and the latest obstacle to him playing in Monumental Red.
And for more stories Cousins and the feasibility of him playing for the Wizards, here are some stories we had on that possibility since last spring.