DeMarcus Cousins and the Boston Celtics need one another to reach their ultimate potential.
For Cousins, it’s not happening within a Sacramento Kings’ franchise that has more division in the front office than a middle-school math class. And for the Celtics, while their rebuild is off to a more-than-solid start, Boston still needs an absolute game-changing franchise centerpiece to get this thing off the ground with rocket thrusters.
Like peanut butter and nutella, Cousins and the Celtics just make too much sense together to continue to stand apart.
The things the detractors will bring to their side of the table when it comes to this argument are true—for now. The Kings won’t deal Cousins. Sacramento has no incentive to deal him after signing a max contract. However, Boston is the one team that can change that. From ESPN’s Marc Stein:
Will they open their war chest of future draft picks to try to pry DeMarcus Cousins away from Sacramento via trade? The early word out there is: Bank on it.
One look at what’s inside that war chest is going to command attention (via RealGM):
When there’s this much smoke, there’s usually a fire. The Celtics have been sniffing around Cousins for a long time now, and Boston may just have its opportunity this summer after yet another dysfunctional season in Sacramento. As the season was getting ready to come to its conclusion, Cousins was asked about how he’d describe his most recent go-around with one of the league’s most volatile teams (via The Washington Post):
“It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus,” a flustered Cousins said, when asked to describe this season. “We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year.”
No wasted words. No minced comments. And one clear, loud and resounding message to those in the Sacramento Kings organization: You’re on the clock.
These comments came long after the Kings decided to surprisingly and unceremoniously fire the only coach who had ever seen eye-to-eye with their franchise center in Mike Malone. These words come after reports of front office dissension have been surrounding the team all season. And this statement from Cousins—a player who has given his all, for better or worse, for an organization that hasn’t treated him like the superstar they market him to be. (and is) No wonder the big man may seem a little frustrated. I’d be a lot frustrated, and my words might not be as toned down as those Cousins chose to use in that interview.
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has come under fire for his extreme rebuilding project—where cheesesteaks now outnumber talented basketball players in the arena on a 500:1 basis at home games—but one of his core beliefs is “optionality.” By definition, optionality is the potential for options.
What that means in the basketball world is this: You never want to commit to something as a certainty before you absolutely know that’s what it is. You want to collect the most information possible about a player before making a determination about his future, and you never want to act out of haste in shaping the future of your roster just because an option may present itself at a certain point in the process. Remaining flexible is critical throughout as it allows you to take advantage of future opportunities that may come your way.
Back to Ainge. There’s a reason he hasn’t opened up that war chest of picks for just any old name. Again, optionality. While Ainge has been able to make some very impressive deals on the outskirts of his rebuild (acquiring Jae Crowder as part of the Rajon Rondo trade, acquiring Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns for scraps), he has yet to even contemplate parting with his most serious missiles unless it brings him the ultimate weapon.
He was ready to do it for Kevin Love before the trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I can guarantee you he’ll be ready to do it again this summer for Cousins.
Coming off a season where the Celtics surprisingly backdoored their way into the postseason through scrap and toughness alone, Boston needs a franchise player on the inside. And after ending a campaign with averages of 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.7 steals on 46.7 percent shooting with a PER of 25.29, sandwiched in between LeBron James and Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins deserves better.
You can already see where this is headed. Brad Stevens should tell Boogie to wear his Green Hat.