The idea of in some sense rewarding DeMarcus Cousins for the havoc he has wreaked yet again on the Sacramento Kings grates on some of us here at the HTB Hideout. When you’re the best player on your team’s roster, you’re supposed to fix things, not escape them.
But the flip side of any rumored Cousins-to-Boston trade coin is that the Celtics would be the ones getting rewarded. Proud, aging stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with respected coach Doc Rivers, would get a XXXL-sized transfusion in wring a bit more postseason success from the era begun nearly six years ago.
The third side of that coin, though, would ask: Would a trade from 13-21 Sacramento to 16-17 Boston qualify anymore as a reward?
OK, so that’s a little snarky. But seven years of lottery finishes (and four coaching changes) has left the Kings a core of young talent. Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, James Johnson and Cousins all are 26 or younger. Chuck Hayes (29) and Aaron Brooks (27 till next week) still are helpful pieces. Rookie forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth pick in the Draft in June, has had a bumpy start but perked up both in performance and in awareness on the road this weekend in Toronto and Brooklyn.
Cousins, of course, remains the key. He has averaged 20.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals over the last six games, driving Sacramento’s 4-2 mark. He has exasperated team members, staffers and fans alike with his unprofessionalism, which earned him a team suspension right before Christmas. Yet there is no denying Cousins’ skills and potential – that’s what keeps the apologists alive and the trade market in overdrive.
It’s hard to know what to believe at the moment. Sam Amick, USA Today‘s rock-solid NBA guy who is based in Sacramento, continues to report that the Kings are not moving Cousins.
DeMarcus Cousins is not going to the Celtics. Teams continue to be told that he’s not available. That is all.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 7, 2013
But NESN.com, like a lot of Boston fans, wondered if the Celtics’ decision to waive Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado might suggest – open roster spots! – that some multi-player maneuver was in the works. That speculation had life breathed into it by NBAonNBCBoston.com, via a Twitter item based on an anonymous source to that site’s Patrick Gilroy:
Sources close to nbaonnbc.com confirm that Danny Ainge is working to complete a deal to bring Cousins to Boston, tonight.
— NBA on NBC Boston (@NBAonNBCBoston) January 7, 2013
(Notice that the replies to that “tweet” ranged from @JFunkyD_JD’s “We need to do something to shake up the mix” and @RiGronkulous87’s “I’ll believe it when I see it” to @seanoblizalo’s “I just threw up.”)
Meanwhile, Boston sports reporter Mike Petraglia of WEEI was offering up an idea that would have the Celtics headed in an entirely different direction: Trading Garnett, the oldest guy on the roster, in a move for now but especially later.
The Celtics have precious few trading chips to do what they really need to do, and that is move forward.
The Celtics are not going to even sniff the NBA finals as currently constituted. I wrote in this space last week that the Celtics should get Garnett some help. But after what I watched last week on the West Coast and Wednesday against Memphis in person, I’m convinced another big man won’t make up the talent deficit the Celtics face. Even worse, if the Celtics decide to improve the roster, it will come at the expense of at least Bradley, if not draft picks.
That’s exactly what [Celtics basketball boss Danny] Ainge should not do. … This is about rebuilding a roster with the type of younger and more athletic talent it takes to compete year in and year out.
Obviously, the Cousins and Garnett schools of thought could only co-exist in a trade of three or more teams. Even if Garnett were to waive his no-trade clause, he wouldn’t do so to relocate to Sacramento. The Kings, likewise, would have little use, while still on training wheels, for the pricey 36-year-old.
Cousins as the centerpiece of roster renewal in Boston? Garnett landing with a team with real championship potential? Sure, it’s all fun to ponder. All long shots, too.