Just when you thought we had heard the last of the NBA trade rumors related to DeMarcus Cousins, another potential deal involving the Kings’ center has come to light. The NBA Trade Rumors website reports that Phoenix and Sacramento may be discussing a deal for Cousins. The Suns would send a package to the Kings that includes point guard Eric Bledsoe, 18-year-old rookie Dragan Bender, small forward T.J. Warren, and Phoenix’s first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Despite his reputation around the league as a “head case,” DeMarcus Cousins continues to draw interest from a number of NBA teams. Cousins is supremely talented, and in the eyes of most NBA executives, that makes up for a lot in terms of his attitude problems and poor behavior. The Sacramento Kings had a disappointing season in 2015-16, and the team has not been successful with Cousins as their go-to guy in the middle.
The Kings are considering a rebuild, and trading Cousins would be the best way to retool the roster as he would likely command a high-value package in return for his services. There have been many NBA trade rumors this summer with Cousins as the focal point, but with only days remaining until NBA teams open training camp, Sacramento has yet to agree to ship Cousins out of California’s capital city.
The Phoenix Suns had an even worse season than the Kings last year, posting a putrid 23-59 regular season mark. Phoenix desperately needs an influx of talent, but despite that, they do have some assets that other teams should be interested in. The Suns have two quality point guards in Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, and word out of Phoenix is that the team would like to move Bledsoe and hand the keys to the offense over to Knight (per SB Nation).
The other area where the Suns could better balance their roster is at power forward, where they have the unusual situation of employing a pair of high-profile rookies at the same position. Dragan Bender was the No. 4 overall choice in the 2016 NBA Draft, and Marquese Chriss out of Washington was chosen four picks later and then dealt to Phoenix (ironically, this trade was also made with Sacramento). In order to acquire a star player like Cousins, the Suns could afford to include one of their young big men in the trade offer.
The Sacramento Kings would be able to compensate for the loss of DeMarcus Cousins about as well as one could expect. The team has Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos to man the center position as well as two young, promising big men the team plans to develop in Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere. If Sacramento sends Cousins to Phoenix, there would still be plenty of talent remaining in the Kings’ frontcourt.
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All of the assets involved in this rumored deal would be helpful to the Kings. Eric Bledsoe is an outstanding talent who would supplant Darren Collison as Sacramento’s starting point guard. Dragan Bender could learn behind Omri Casspi at power forward, with the intention of Bender taking over the starting spot when he has gained enough NBA experience. T.J. Warren, a former first-round draft pick, would give the Kings some much-needed depth at small forward — particularly if the team deals Rudy Gay, which has been discussed in NBA trade rumors for weeks.
Even though Phoenix would be giving up player assets they can comfortably part with, there remains a problem on their end of this trade proposal. The Suns already have Tyson Chandler and Alex Len at center, and while DeMarcus Cousins would be a significant upgrade over both, making this trade for Cousins would almost force Phoenix to make another move to send out one of their current centers. Chandler and Len would both have value on the trade market, so dealing one of them is a very realistic goal.
The Suns may very well ask the Kings to take Chandler or Len instead of Dragan Bender, but it is likely that Sacramento would veto that idea since they already have a nice stock of centers they can turn to if they move DeMarcus Cousins. Phoenix may have to decide if they feel getting an elite talent in Cousins is worth taking a chance that they could end up with too many quality centers and not enough playing time for each. As a side note, that same scenario is playing out right now with the Philadelphia 76ers, and having too much of their talent stockpiled at the “five” position led them to the worst record in the NBA last year.
Another item that should not be ignored is the rumor that Phoenix is willing to include a future first-round pick in their offer for DeMarcus Cousins. Considering where the Suns are now in the Western Conference pecking order, that could be a fairly high pick and carry a lot of value for Sacramento as the team looks to build for the future.
It’s interesting that the Kings would be the team giving up a superstar in this deal, yet the trade could very well favor Sacramento. This is certainly a trade scenario that would also interest Phoenix, but they would be giving up quite a bit to acquire Cousins, and they are already very solid at the center position, so there is some roster duplication that could be a problem as the Kings try to balance their team going into the 2016-17 campaign.
The latest NBA trade rumors are pointing toward a deal that would land NBA All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in Phoenix. This is a trade scenario that makes some sense for both sides, but many times a team has to overpay and/or ignore their biggest positional needs in order to obtain a superstar talent — and that is the internal conflict that the Suns must wrestle with as they decide if DeMarcus Cousins is just too dominant a player to pass up.
[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]