The Cleveland Cavaliers finally completed their trade with the Boston Celtics and they have pivoted quickly to what’s next. According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavs are shopping their newly acquired, unprotected Brooklyn Nets first round pick.
A wave of speculation has surfaced over the past few days, linking the New Orleans Pelicans and DeMarcus Cousins with the Cavs and a package including the Brooklyn pick and Iman Shumpert. No reputable sources have actually reported any truth to this rumor, but it has been the topic much conversation.
People are generally enthralled by the idea of Cousins playing on their favorite basketball team. He is immensely talented and when he is at his best, he can take over games. It is entertaining and eye-opening as you watch this massive man move and handle the ball like a guard while still using his size and incredible touch to dominate.
For years, the Sacramento Kings waited for Cousins to grow up and show some maturity. Well, they got tired of waiting and traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans for cents on the dollar.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the reason the Kings dealt Cousins so abruptly and at such a bargain was because of the newly established collective bargaining agreement that Cousins could be eligible for the designated veteran player extension. Under the new agreement, Cousins would have required 35 percent of the cap and a five year deal worth more than $200 million.
The Kings had decided that he was not worth the money and didn’t want to deal with it in the offseason. They were ready to move on. So, they traded him away on the cheap.
It is clear why though. Cousins’ immaturity has plagued him for years. There are times when his emotion gets the best of him on the basketball floor and he hurts his team with outbursts of anger and frustration.
They wanted to do this deal before Vivek Ranadive changed his mind again. This talk about this new list of transgressions by Cousins over the last few weeks — the incident with the Golden State fan, the technical fouls now that it turned into suspensions — these were very consistent with what’s gone on. These weren’t new. Now, they used that to say, “Well, we just decided we couldn’t go forward with him.” Management, the front office, they’ve wanted to trade him for a very long time. And they could not get Vivek on board. Once they had Vivek on board, they didn’t want him to change his mind again. A, that was part of the reason they rushed on Sunday to get the deal done.
Cousins visibly loses his temper on the floor, often at the detriment of his team. There are times when his effort could be called into question, especially on defense where his effort can wane.
The Cleveland Cavaliers thrive in the face of adversity. They have been tested over and over again, yet they never relent and have always pushed through. James demands greatness, effort and a level of professionalism that Cousins hasn’t proven that he can provide. To be fair: you could have said the same thing about J.R. Smith and look at how he’s played since coming to Cleveland.
When he was shipped to New Orleans last year, it appeared that combination of Anthony Davis and himself would be a force and find their way into the Western Conference playoffs. Instead, they went the other way. He had a new environment, with an ultra-talented partner and instead of thriving, the Pelicans did not fare well with Cousins at all.
The Cavs are doing the right thing in shopping the Brooklyn pick. The presence of an all-time great the likes of LeBron James demands that they use every asset they can to help this year’s Cavaliers team win another championship. When this is all over and James doesn’t play for the whine and gold anymore, it will never be the same again. If the Brooklyn pick turned out to be the first overall and the Cavs picked the next big thing, it still wouldn’t ever be the same as it is right now.
However, spending the pick on the likes of Cousins isn’t realistic or a smart move. Putting any other potential baggage aside, he is in the last year of his deal. This should eliminate him from consideration immediately. While an all in approach is an option, the pick is worth more than just one year of a player’s services.
However, the addition of the super-talented Cousins would be a mistake for a number of reasons. A draft pick that could land an elite young talent and allow the team to control that player for multiple years, should be valued at higher level. The Cavs need to demand a better return than just a single season of Cousins. In this situation, waiting to see how things shake-out across the league may allow the pick to garner more value, while improving the Cavs view of what options lie ahead.