The similarities of NBA players that played on bad teams and were traded

So, is everyone a little calmer now? Have you taken off the caps lock on your computer or phone? Are you less enraged at the move the Sacramento Kings made to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans?

I can’t say that I was any different when it happened but, now that it’s been a little more than 24 hours, you can now sit back and evaluate things a little bit more.

Since then, you’ve seen pundits across the country say whether it was a good move or whether or not the Kings got hosed on the trade. Here’s a slightly different angle on the thing. Maybe Cousins wasn’t as good of a player as you think he was.


OK… OK… I can see the angry looks on your face. You’re going to bring up the numbers that he put up and the All-Star teams he made and all of that is accurate and meaningful.

When Cousins was in Sacramento, he was great. The man made three All-Star teams and was a walking double-double since the moment he came into the NBA. Big men couldn’t stay with him and guards got pushed around guarding him. He was as big of a force offensively as anyone in the NBA.

However, over the last seven years the Kings never won more than 33 games. What’s even worse is that they were never quite good enough to make it to the playoffs but never bad enough to get a top three draft pick.

At least now the Kings have bottomed all the way out. With Cousins gone and Rudy Gay on the shelf for the rest of the year the team’s metaphorical cupboard is empty.

People will say, “Yeah but they didn’t get enough back for him. He’s an All-Star.”

Yes, that’s true, but tell me a trade that worked out for the team giving up an All-Star. Everyone knew that the Kings and Cousins weren’t a match made in heaven so offering them a dream trade wasn’t a smart move. Maybe they could have waited a little bit longer but who knows if the trades would be any better.

Don’t want to take my word? Here is passage from Howard Beck’s column about the trade:

For all the gaudy stats—27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game—Cousins’ behavior and volatility was a ballast.

It’s fair to say the Kings did not receive equal value. Nor anything close to it. The truth is they were never going to get it—and every team executive in the league knew it.

In recent days, the Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers all made passing inquiries and floated potential offers, none better than what the Pelicans delivered, sources said.

Fear was the overriding factor. The fear that Cousins could wreck your team, ruin your locker room and, ultimately, get you fired. There is no riskier, more volatile All-Star in the NBA.

“Uncoachable,” rival executives say. “Not a winner.”

Generally the only time you can get good value for a player is when teams aren’t expecting it. When it’s this obvious that there is dysfunction teams don’t generally get good value.

“But the Kings are going to be irrelevant from now on. They wont even come close to the playoffs for years.”

Yes, but honestly how much worse are they going to be, and is that a bad thing considering this upcoming NBA draft?


Sure, the Nuggets haven’t been a contender since the Carmelo Anthony trade. The Cavaliers were nothing until they got LeBron James back and the Magic haven’t been back to the playoffs since Dwight Howard was traded but there’s a problem with that.

All of those teams won before their star player was traded away. James and Howard made it to the NBA Finals and Anthony made it to the Western Conference Finals.

Again, zero playoff games for Cousins and the Kings.

Some players can put an entire team on their backs and make it deep into the playoffs. We’ve seen Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki all drag their teams deep into the playoffs whether their teams were loaded with talent or it was them against the world.

Those guys are in a different tier. For Cousins, he may be in that other tier. Again, this isn’t to say that he isn’t ridiculously talented. Tracy McGrady was one of the best players in the NBA but he couldn’t get out of the first round to save his life and we barely knew Pau Gasol’s name before he went to Los Angeles.

Instead, the best players to compare Cousins to would be players of a certain tier and these players were great on bad teams, but could never get over the hump until joining someone else.

When Kevin Love was in Minnesota he was a double-double machine averaging 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds, while shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Gasol as a member of the Grizzlies averaged 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds.

When Chris Bosh was in Toronto he averaged 20.2 points and 9.4 rebounds.

As he heads for Bourbon Street, Cousins for his career averages 21.1 points and 10.8 rebounds and has shot 34.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line over the last two years.

Do you know the commonality between all of the players mentioned above? They either never made it to the playoffs or never made it past game six of the first round.

Again, none of this is to say that Cousins is bad. All of the players mentioned above won at least one NBA title and will probably make it to the Hall of Fame after they retire. Cousins is simply not in that top tier yet.

Will this trade propel the Kings into the playoffs going forward? Nobody knows for sure. Now that you’ve partnered up Cousins with Anthony Davis that could be the start of a great duo that makes a championship run in the future. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Sacramento will tell you this exact same story in reverse with Chris Webber when he arrived.

For now, the deal is done; the Kings have officially pushed the reset button. Now let’s wait and see what happens going forward, for better or for worse.

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Anthony Bertacchi on Twitter
Anthony Bertacchi
Special Contributor to Cowbell Kingdom and a proud Sacramento State Alum.

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