The Phoenix Suns are waiting to pounce on the next All-Star available in a trade and DeMarcus Cousins might be that guy.
Context is important here because I didn't see this having any chance until this past weekend. Saturday night Bill Simmons of Grantland released another episode of his podcast the 'B.S. Report' and his first guest was Grantland's NBA writer Zach Lowe. The topic was the trade deadline and as is with most NBA conversations on the podcast, the conversation wandered its way into talking about the Celtics and DeMarcus Cousins.
This isn't anything new, but the situation surrounding Boogie certainly is. Lowe and Simmons are by no means guys who break news, but they have their certain guys they talk to and more importantly have an incredible gauge and sense for how things are going in the NBA.
Regarding Cousins, Simmons asked Lowe about Cousins possibly being available and Lowe responded with "I don't think that's a ridiculous question. I think teams around the league are asking themselves that right now." Simmons agreed and thought that the "what would we give up for Boogie" meetings were happening.
In case you didn't perk up yet, Lowe followed that meeting line with "good young player, minimum two first-round picks" as an example. We will stop there for now, because Simmons hilariously tries to sell Lowe on a Celtics package for Cousins.
If you don't see where I'm going yet, after that failed sell by Simmons, Lowe would say that "I think a smart, proactive team would call them and say here's a godfather offer for DeMarcus Cousins." Simmons and Lowe went on to discuss how Boogie has spent a good amount of time in Sacramento being miserable.
Since the trade deadline is coming up and there aren't any games until Thursday, let's get super speculative about what Lowe and Simmons said. Here's my case for why the Suns should do everything in their power to get DeMarcus Cousins and make that godfather offer.
Why the Move Fits the Suns
First, let's take a look at that last quote. Isn't this what Suns GM Ryan McDonough thrives on?
The two key words there are smart and proactive. I think it's safe to say McDonough is smart given the amount of great trades he's pulled off so far and the signings/extensions he's made. He has openly said that they are looking for that next big name that's available and they want a star. That sounds like someone ready to be proactive.
The second quote you want to take a look at is the one involving personnel. If there is a team in the NBA that has a boatload of assets of varying degrees and wants a star enough to take a risk on Boogie, it's the Suns. Let me know in the comments, but I don't think there are many other teams that are in that stage. Before we take a look at that possible package, let's discuss something that we have to go over.
The Len vs. Cousins Discussion
The Suns currently have that good young player right now in Alex Len. Len and Cousins are both the best around the basket and I personally think you'd be trying to be too cute if you played them together. Besides, Len needs to be in this deal for it to work.
Len is an extremely promising player and despite some Suns fans feelings on him, I feel safe saying that there isn't anyone in the NBA that sees him becoming anywhere near the player that Cousins is right now.
Len does something new every game to impress you and he improves in that way as well, but that's what promising young players are supposed to do. He's not doing these things right now, but Len has a unique potential for the high post and becoming a capable shooter and passer from the midrange. For now, he's an emerging rim protector who is really freaking long.
From an outsiders perspective, DeMarcus Cousins averages 24 points (first among centers) and 12 rebounds (third among centers) at the age of 24. For people who watch his game frequently, you know what Cousins can bring on the defensive end when he's bringing his full effort. Even after the Kings fired his coach, Cousins has still played through a portion of this year to the second best Defensive Real Plus-Minus in the league (Len is 34th).
Some will want to point out smaller problems like his usage rate (5th in the NBA) and turnovers (1st in the NBA), but I see those two problems significantly declining around a better team. If you want to look at those smaller problems for Cousins, you also have to look at the smaller things he does well such as FT shooting (80%, 8th among centers) and assists (3.3, 3rd among centers). He can really handle the ball and that midrange jumper is eventually going to be money. His age continues to be surprising without looking at the box score and looking at some of the things he does on the court.
What I'm trying to say here is there's no debate. Len will never be this good when he's 24 and it's highly unlikely he will be that good in his prime. I really like Alex Len, but he's not going to get to Boogie's level. Based on some comments we've had this season I had to have this talk.
The Other Factor
Moving on, the question now becomes what else the Suns need to throw in. Before that though, the Suns would need to address this whole DeMarcus Cousins/Isaiah Thomas thing.
In my opinion, you should never ever try to bring these two together again. As the article from Sactown Royalty says, there's definitely something there. When you have a guy like Cousins, you do everything you need to make him happy. That means trading IT once you make this Boogie thing official.
I'm not sure if Sacramento would take Thomas back and let's act like they wouldn't, but a player of Thomas' caliber on that contract is easy to move. If you got Boogie, moving Thomas for who would be your 5th-8th best player on the roster would not be a problem.
The Other Players
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at the rest of the deal. The tricky part here for the Suns is actually getting the trade to be successful salary wise because of the discrepancy in Cousins and Len's salaries.
The two Suns most likely to be traded before Thursday are Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee, both of whom the Kings could use. From there, the Suns need one more contract and let's safely say Zoran is attached to Goran.
That leaves T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis (because if I include Archie Goodwin in this fake trade you will all burn my house down), and this going to be an extremely unpopular opinion, but you need to keep Ennis over Warren. The Morrii are attached so that leaves Marcus playing the minutes Warren possibly should be playing. Now playing Warren out of position at the four is appealing, but what's more unappealing is not having a backup point guard.
Like I said, IT's gone in this scenario so now you need a backup point guard. That would be Ennis. Warren's got a great future in front of him, but a good way of thinking about his involvement in the deal is that the Kings would see his value much more than Ennis (they have Sessions, Collison, and McCallum already).
So now we've got Len, Green, Plumlee, and Warren for Cousins. I think the Suns need to add at least two first-round picks for this to make sense and I think three first-round picks makes this a deal the Kings have to do IF they want to deal Cousins (big if, we don't know the answer to that question and it's the reason this is so much speculation).
There are a couple of factors to discuss here and the first one is figuring out where the roster will be at with the players involved in the deal. With all that, here's your "rosterbation comment outline" of the team.
SG: Dragic/Bullock/Goodwin (BOGDAN IN 2016)
SF: Tucker/ Mook
?: Whoever the Suns get for IT
Tons of random factors to consider there, such as who the Suns would get for IT and how far along Bullock, Goodwin and Ennis are in the rotation, but either way that's a pretty good looking unit to say the least.
The question the Suns now have to ask themselves with that group is whether or not they could afford to give up their picks. That's more than enough youth on that roster so in my opinion there's no reason to be stingy about the picks.
For me, the Lakers pick is too good of an asset to not give up in this deal since it involves Cousins. Len, Warren, and that pick is a pretty hefty haul on its own in my opinion.
In addition, I'd give up the first-round pick in 2016 with no protections because you are going all in on this trade regardless.
Kings receive: Alex Len, T.J. Warren, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, LAL 2015 first-round pick (top five protected in 2015, top three protected in 2016), PHX 2016 first-round pick
Suns receive: DeMarcus Cousins
That's the Suns godfather offer for DeMarcus Cousins. As crazy as this may sound from what the Suns are giving up the Kings still may want more in the deal. They may want more picks, the Suns to take on a bad contract, or insist on either Dragic, Bledsoe, or Keef also being in the deal. Unless it's only a smidgen more (you could talk me into the 2018 first) that's when the Suns would have to walk away.
Now I understand the Kings just paid Rudy Gay a lot of money, but this gives them a mega kickstart on a rebuild if that's what they want and honestly that's usually how trading away a superstar works out. This trade helps them keep their first-round pick in 2015 (traded to Chicago with a top 10 protection for the next three years) and probably 2016 as well. That's four first rounders in the next two years they get because of this trade plus Len and Warren. Of course, I'll remind you that this is all contingent on if they are willing to trade Boogie and trade him to team in their own division.
The bottom line here is that the Suns have been looking for that All-Star to come in and take over this team and that's Cousins in this scenario. The best part about this is that Cousins is only 24 and you could debate he is about to run the table on that position for the next decade. He's had his issues, but he was cool under Mike Malone and seemed to really enjoy himself, which is something you could pretty much guarantee playing with a roster and coach like this. He could be the alpha for this team and would put the Suns on the map as a contender in the future.