NBA’s Pelicans Grow Quickly Via Trade

A Huge Trade The big news keeps coming out of New Orleans, site Sunday night of the NBA All-Star Game. The Sacramento Kings, one of the league’s dregs, traded...

A Huge Trade

The big news keeps coming out of New Orleans, site Sunday night of the NBA All-Star Game.

The Sacramento Kings, one of the league’s dregs, traded All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, who have apparently decided to make a playoff push rather than sink in the standings in hopes of getting a better draft pick.

Cousins, 6-foot-11, will be paired with Anthony Davis, also 6-11 and the MVP of the All-Star game with a record 52 points. The Pelicans are 23-34, just a bit worse than the Kings at 24-33. Neither team is currently in position to claim a playoff berth in the tough Western Conference.
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Cousins is a volatile, emotional presence but also quite effective, averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He played in college at Kentucky with Davis (briefly), so perhaps Davis will be a calming influence.

The Kings, clearly looking to build more for tomorrow, sent Cousins and Omri Casspi to New Orleans for Tyreke Evans, 2016 first-round draft pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round draft picks this summer. The first-round pick is protected, which means the Pelicans would keep it if it becomes a one of the top three lottery choices.

The Kings got shorter, but better in the backcourt with Evans, the 2009 Rookie of the Year, and Hield, a rookie who keeps showing flashes of being the explosive scorer he was at Oklahoma.

Does this change the power structure of the Western Conference? It does not. But it seems to give the Pelicans more stature and certainly a pair of quality bigs to build around.

Cousins will be a free agent in 2018, so the Pelicans will have to find a way to sign him to make this deal stand up for the long term. There’s more in this for the Pelicans than the Kings if the Pelicans can keep Cousins.

The Pelicans have made the playoffs once in the last six seasons; the Kings haven’t been to the postseason since the 2005-06 campaign. What happens when losers exchange talent? We will surely see.
 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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