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No Cousins makes no sense, but then nothing makes sense

The Phoenix Suns once again missed out on a chance to acquire a big-time player in his prime. And there’s no good explanation for it.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Well if that isn’t another kick in the pants.

Whether you are Cousins truther or COUSINS TRUTHER, you have to be shaking your head at the Suns once again coming in second place to the team that got what they wanted.

Per a rumor/leak to an unknown (but apparently trusted) entity on realgm.com message boards, the Suns offered T.J. Warren, Alex Len, Brandon Knight and the unprotected 2017 first round pick for Cousins and Omri Casspi (who the Kings clearly wanted to dump).

The Kings turned that down for the Pelicans’ offer of Buddy Hield, a Top-3 protected 2017 pick and a second round pick, plus expiring contracts that simply make the deal get done. First reported by Woj, of course.

Why in the world would the Kings take EITHER offer, let alone the Pels Poo Poo Platter?

Let’s break down the pieces.

Hield > Bender or Chriss

The Kings already traded away the chance to draft Marquese Chriss a few months ago, and not because they didn’t want big men. The traded the rights to Chriss for TWO big men they can’t even give minutes to this year.

Blocking rookies Gergios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere this season were not only Cousins, but multi-year contract veterans Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver and Omri Casspi, along with second-year man Willie Cauley-Stein. Even after the trade, there’s five guys already on the big man depth chart for two positions. They didn’t need Chriss or Bender.

But they also didn’t need 39% shooting Buddy Hield. The organization that, in recent years, tried unsuccessfully to fill their shooting guard position with Jimmer Fredette (out of league), Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore, and just brought in the promising Malachi Richardson and signed Garrett Temple to a multi-year deal AND acquired the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, now adds Buddy Hield to the mix along with multi-year Langston Galloway.

That’s a poo-poo platter, and in my opinion Richardson has the best chance of being a long-term answer.

But the Kings loved, loved, loved Buddy Hield. Apparently.

Evans, Galloway (expiring)> Len (expiring), Warren, Knight?

For some reason, the Kings wanted expiring contracts outside of Hield and pick(s). They got Tyreke Evans (expiring), and Langston Galloway (non-guaranteed for 2017-18 for less than $3 million).

If they had taken the Suns deal, Len would have been expiring (an RFA), but Knight and Warren would be on the books for more than $16 million next year, with Knight getting two MORE high-paying years after that.

You’d think the Suns could have easily taken Knight out of the offer and absorbed the salary difference (Suns are $13 million under the cap), but that’s not what’s been reported. Maybe the Suns tried to dangle Knight to see if Vlade wasn’t looking, and then never got a chance to take him out of it before the Kings settled on Buddy. Who knows. But that’s a crappy way to lose out on a deal if that’s all it was. I don’t think that’s all it was.

Taking Knight out, you HAVE to assume that one year of Warren > two months of Langston Galloway, right? Even just looking at positional depth, Galloway is one of half-dozen guards, while Warren would be the starting SF this year and at worst the primary backup to Gay (if he’s around) next year.

Suns did not offer more than one pick?

Why would the Suns low-ball the Kings with a single draft pick? Clearly, as we can see, simply adding a second-rounder was enticing enough to get them to smile.

Yes, the Suns 2017 unprotected pick (assuming that’s what the Suns offered, but there’s no confirmation) is better than the Pelicans’ Top-3 protected pick, but come on you could at least sweeten the offer with pick swaps or a lotto-protected future first rounder or two.

Some are arguing that the Suns unprotected 2017 pick will be worse when the season is over because of all the games Cousins would help the Suns win, but won’t he do the same for the Pelicans? No matter how low the Suns pick gets, it won’t be lower than the Pelicans pick.

The Suns should have included 1-2 more picks. Heck, even their 2017 second rounder is better than the second-rounder the Kings actually got from the Pelicans!

At minimum, the Suns would be getting the rest of 2016-17 and the whole of 2017-18 to convince DeMarcus Cousins to stay in Phoenix long term. Yes, he’s up for extension this summer, but he’s under contract through next year. That’s worth another protected pick or two, I think, beyond this year.

Again, I feel like the Suns should have, and maybe would have, negotiated further on this if given the chance, but it appears the Kings settled on the trade earlier than most expected.

Pelicans got their man?

The Pelicans made out like bandits in terms of trade value, but am I the only who wonders how those two are going to play together?

They are both ideal centers in today’s NBA who prefer playing power forward. Anthony Davis is too thin to enjoy 40 minutes a night banging with centers, and the Kings have regularly been playing a big man (Koufos, Cauley-Stein) next to Cousins for the last two years to let them take the opposing center.

Both like to stretch the floor, but only marginally (i.e. neither camps out at the three-point line for kick-outs).

Both are incredibly talented, but I’m just a bit skeptical they will be perfect for each other long term.

Is there seriously no better value for a Top 10 NBA player?!!?

Come on, seriously, that’s it? One okay draft pick, a possible long-term rotation player and expiring contracts is all that DeMarcus Cousins can command?

The acquiring team gets 18 months to convince Cousins to still take the most money anyone can offer (not the $209 million the Kings could have offered, but still $180 million which is a ton better than the 29 other teams can offer).

Cousins is a three-time All-Star and All-NBA player. He can do whatever he wants, when he wants. A slight bit more maturity and you’re potentially looking at a Charles Barkley type impact player on the right team (But not on the Pels and maybe not the Suns either. Barkley, like Cousins, was toxic to a team not winning 55+ games).

I am shocked at how little teams would give up for Cousins. Suns wouldn’t offer multiple picks and tried to force a Knight-dump on them. Lakers wouldn’t include the disappointing Brandon Ingram. Even the Pelicans wouldn’t include a second first round pick.

Wow.

Poo Poo Platter

Altogether, this looks like a bad trade.

I think the Pelicans will ultimately see that the NBA is not NBA2K, and that “fit” matters. See my notes above.

I think the Kings did next to nothing to improve their rebuilding chances, considering how gawd-awful bad they are at drafting and that they didn’t get enough picks to help their odds of getting lucky anyway. A pair of 6-10 range picks sounds nice, but have you seen what the Kings do with 6-10 range picks?! Jimmer Fredette (10, traded down from 7 for him). Thomas Robinson (5). Ben McLemore (7). Nik Stauskas (8). Willie Cauley-Stein (6). Marquese Chriss (8, traded down for Papa and Skal). Oof.

I think the Suns missed a chance to add an All-Star for at least 1.5 years on the cheap. Cousins has shown loyalty, evidenced by his continued commitment to Sacramento. He would very likely have signed a Suns extension, and become the best center in Suns history.

Once before, the Suns acquired a Top-10 NBA player who was a crazy malcontent and ended up riding him to the Finals before the marriage hit rock bottom. Why not try it again?

But no. The Suns did the ultimate Suns thing and came in second place once again, extending their long history from Kareem and the coin flip to LaMarcus Aldridge a couple seasons ago, and probably many more we never heard about.

Brace yourselves for the inevitable headlines later this week: “Suns were finalists for <Jimmy Butler/Paul George>, but didn’t offer enough” and “Jilted Suns ultimately spent the last 10 minutes before the trade deadline furiously consummating deals to dump a couple players for future picks” and “Suns GM says they never really wanted Boogie, Butler or George that much, that rebuilding is the way to go” and finally “Suns happy with Brandon Knight”.