NBA Trade Rumors: Could Philadelphia 76ers have DeMarcus Cousins In Their Sights? [Opinion]

The Philadelphia 76ers have placed themselves not only in a position to win this year, but possibly attract bigger names come free agency. The Sixers have endured through the hard times as their current roster is a result of smart drafting and free agent signings. As talented as the team is now, it’s scary to believe they could be better by the end of the season. The NBA Trade Rumor mill has the Sixers ready to make a deal involving Jahlil Okafor this season. Could DeMarcus Cousins be on his way to the City of Brotherly Love?

What the Sixers will learn over the next few months is that, if you win, they will want to come. One team, the New Orleans Pelicans, may have the Sixers on their radar. The New Orleans Pelicans could easily be in the market to sell instead of buy come the trade deadline.

Think about the direction of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans, built to contend this year with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins while the 76ers are still in that honeymoon phase with their young core. The Sixers are talent-heavy, enough so, that a playoff berth could be in their sights this season.

The Sixers are finally somewhat healthy with their prized possession Joel Embiid leading the charge. But Embiid is not alone. Ben Simmons is playing as advertised while the rest of the roster has played their supporting roles to perfection. So why are they in constant trade rumors?

For as good as they are, the Philadelphia 76ers could actually be better. There are not many teams in the NBA with starting talent in their main five and riding the bench. For that reason alone is why the New Orleans Pelicans must have an eye on Philadelphia.

Why the gamble for the Pelicans?

The Pelicans frontcourt is one of the best in the NBA with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But, despite their individual talents, the Pelicans missed the playoffs last season and still are searching for an identity to start this year. The big question following the Pelicans is the unknown regarding free-agent-to-be Cousins and cornerstone Davis.

The Pelicans, fresh off their only playoff appearance with Davis, inked him to lucrative 5yr-$127 million deal in 2015. While the money and personal numbers (23/10/2) has Davis in elite status, the win column will say otherwise. But, will the team be willing to trade their best player? No, but they might be willing to part ways with Cousins.

As good as Cousins is, he has not won. The talent level in Sacramento can’t be blamed on him, but what about last season with the Pelicans? Any frontcourt which features Davis and Cousins should not be on the outside looking in. What the Sixers and the rest of the NBA are watching is to see how the Pelicans handle adversity. Trading for Cousins was a risk the Pelicans were willing to take last year hoping a tandem of he and Davis would make the playoffs.

The hope around the league is that New Orleans will struggle by the All-Star break and will look to unload Cousins. With Cousins able to become a free agent this summer, the Pelicans will have a tough choice to make. Do they keep the talented, very expensive and non-winning duo of Davis and Cousins or do they take the best offer and start over again? The Pelicans could take a gamble and hope that Cousins wishes to resign or risk it all and let him walk away and get nothing in return. The Sixers will be praying for the trade.

How the Pelicans and Sixers trade could go down.

For starters, the Sixers can offer the Pelicans a package for Cousins that includes an outcast in Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and barely used Nic Stauskas or Justin Anderson. What this deal does is provide both teams with is something they desperately need. The Sixers get one of the best low post players in the NBA and the Pelicans get a new team.

Think about what the Pelicans lineup will look like. Anthony at power forward, Okafor at center, Saric at small forward (an area the Pelicans have struggled at), and place either Anderson or Stauskas at shooting guard while keeping Jrue Holiday at point guard. Or, once Rajon Rondo is healthy, they could place him at point guard and move Holiday at shooting guard.

Seems like a one-sided deal for some but it’s not. Cousins is good. Elite good but the additions of Okafor, Saric and a do-it-all player like either Stauskas or Anderson is about as great of a deal the Pelicans will get for what many consider to be a troublesome Cousins. There is no need for the Sixers to offer up Embiid or Simmons. The reasoning is still the unknown. Cousins should want to win and be on the hunt for a playoff caliber team but what if he isn’t? What if he’s about the money now? The Sixers should not offer up either of the best players for a player who may not sign an extension when traded. Imagine trading Embiid for Cousins and he decides to leave at the end of the year anyway.

Think of what the new look Sixers can do in the Eastern Conference. A starting lineup consisting of Embiid at center, Cousins at power forward, Covington at small forward, J.J. Redick at shoot guard and Simmons at point guard. How many teams can honestly say they can contend with that in a playoff series?

The “Trust the Process” era not only provided the Sixers with their current talent, it also gave them leverage for moments like this.

[Featured Image by Chris Graythen/Getty Images]