In recent days, it has been reported that multiple teams have an interest in acquiring the Kings talented big man. Cleveland, Charlotte, and Dallas are all suitors, with the Cavs and their million draft picks as the most flexible and enticing potential trade partner.
The Cavs control the #1, #19, #31, and #33 picks in this years draft and Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao would be expendable if they obtain a new starting center. The fan forums are discussing #1 for Cousins straight up, Cousins and the Kings pick (#7) for Thompson and #1, and various other interesting combinations.
Cousins was the fifth pick of the 2010 draft and has been one of the league's best young big guys since day one.
He averaged 14.1 and 8.6 his rookie year, 18.1 and 11 his sophomore season, and 17.1 and 9.9 last year. If not for his foul trouble limiting his minutes, his numbers would be even better. For his career, he is averaging 19.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per 36 minutes and he is one of only a few guys that is a legitimate threat to drop 20-20 on any given night.
But only his reputation exceeds his talent. He always seems to lead the league in personal fouls, techs, and mid-game emotional outbursts. I don't think he's quite the head case that the national media portrays him to be -- he doesn't get in legal trouble and everyone seems to think he's a pretty good guy in real life -- but he certainly needs to better control his emotions, especially when a call goes against him.
Vivek Ranadive has just taken control of the Kings from the Maloof family and interviews for GM and Head Coach have begun. The ownership group has many questions to answer but the DeMarcus Cousins question is the one that will have the greatest direct impact on the basketball court.
Do they begin to rebuild the rebuild by starting completely fresh or try to fix a team that already has a bit of talent but lacks direction and a winning attitude?
Many people try to answer this question by comparing Cousins to Randolph; Z-Bo is a talented, misunderstood big guy that took being on a few teams to find a comfort level and learn how to be a pro. His career trajectory leads some to believe Cousins needs a change of scenery in order to help him mature.
But this comparison doesn't really hold up for one main reason: Cousins is better. He is bigger, more athletic, and his ceiling is significantly higher. If he reaches his potential, he'll be the best center in the NBA. This was true in 2010 and is still true today. It made him worth drafting (that risk is why he fell to $5 to begin with) then and, I think, it makes him worth keeping now.
Most people that talk about Cousins' maturity don't watch him play very much. They don't see that he is the emotional heartbeat of the team. He whines a lot but he also pounds his chest and plays with a joy and passion for the game that can inspire his teammates and fans at times. His intensity is what makes him lash out but is also what makes a beast.
That's what gives me hope. An organization with more stability may help Cousins channel that emotion better.
And if not, he will be a restricted free agent next summer and they can part ways then, or re-sign him and find a trade partner. His talent is too great and his potential is too high to give up on just yet, even if the organization is attempting to revamp the Kings brand. That may remain the case for the rest of his career too; he may always be an incredible talent who hasn't quite put it together and perhaps cutting ties now is the smart move in the long run.
But I just can't wrap my mind around letting such a talent go when the team has been in the dumpster for so long. With the young talent on the roster, the team is just a little direction and few complimentary pieces away from competing for a playoff spot.
Either way, Kings fans will likely be analyzing the decision whether or not to trade Cousins for years to come.