Are the DeMarcus Cousins Rumors Just a Diversion?

Jan 27, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) is guarded by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) is guarded by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

For all the hype; for all the want; for all the anticipation; for all the theories; what if there isn’t a chance in Los Angeles that the Suns have any interest in
DeMarcus Cousins?

If fans know that DeMarcus Cousins is a handful, then certainly Suns management and ownership are just as aware. Yet the Cousins rumors did not come out of thin air. Certainly Suns management would be crazy to not at least make a pitch for the superstar center and see at what level the Sacramento Kings would be willing to bite. But for the proposed package that the Suns have been linked to possibly sending to California’s Capital City, is it possibly that it’s merely a diversion for something entirely different?

While superstars do not grow on trees, there are a few in the league. Of that elite group, only Cousins has a reputation as being as equally immature as he is talented. Thus, if the Suns are willing to offer up any number of pieces in a package of their 2017 1st round pick, the 2018 Miami Heat 1st rd pick, T.J. Warren, Alex Len, Brandon Knight, and most recently discussed Marquese Chriss, is there no one else in the league that the Suns could get their hands on? In fact, are there not multiple players the Suns could potentially trade for?

So what if that is the point? Teams let rumors slip to the media on a regular basis to get other teams to feel nervous that their opportunity obtain certain talent might slip through their fingers. The Suns and Kings are very logical trade partners, something other teams are well aware of. As well as:

The Suns and Kings already made a pretty large swap in the 2016 NBA Draft, so they obviously have a relationship. Sacramento is in a perpetual rebuild mode. They will never convince a additional superstars to pick them over another team unless they already have a solid, deep, core in place. Hence, they need a group of young talent with which to use as a selling point. The Suns’ 2017 1st round pick, T.J. Warren, and Alex Len would all be very welcomed additions to a team who outside of Cousins himself, has close to bupkis.

On the other hand, the Suns already have a very exciting core with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in place. One more star-level piece, especially a dominant player in the front court, and they are in the playoff hunt, if not 1st round home court advantage hunt, right away. Cousins’ antics from Sacramento’s perspective cannot be discounted either. There might not be enough Excedrin in the world to cure the Kings of the headaches he’s caused, whereas the Suns may believe they have the culture that can turn him into an extremely successful player.

But what if the Suns have no interest in that headache either? Everyone in the NBA world can see how this trade might actually work out very well for each team, but what if the Suns use this particular rumor to leverage other teams who have a player – or players – that the Suns actually really want to build around their young core?

Moreover there is a chance, albeit presumably a small one, that Cousins could jump ship after next season and leave Phoenix high and dry. The Suns are already in the running for a top-5 pick, and at the rate they’re playing, have a solid shot at #1 overall – a position the franchise has never sat in before.

Granted, ownership and management haven’t been around forever and professionally want to chart their own course. They may not care that the franchise has never had the #1 pick and may also not want to own the distinction of being the overseers of the franchise when that occurred. And yet, picking top-3 has it’s distinct advantages: You are picking a near sure thing and can get a potential superstar on the super-cheap for 3-4 years whereas trading the pick for a player in Cousins’ stage in his career will cost the Suns a yacht-load of money.

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Plus, lest we forget, Ryan McDonough already traded away a potentially high draft pick for a bust of a return that as of this season is likely to burn him big-time. If the Los Angeles Lakers do not finish top-3 this summer, then their pick – which the Suns once owned – will transfer to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers will likely already have a top-5 pick of their own and will have incredible trade leverage. In return for that pick Brandon Knight has been of zero help to the Suns and analytically has been the worst player in l the NBA. Whether it’s the Suns’ pick of this season or the Heat’s of next, if whoever the Suns may receive in return busts, then the Suns will have fumbled two incredible chances at rebuilding through the draft, something that legacies can be destroyed by, and franchises may take an additional decade to recover from.

Because the Suns gave up on that pick, chances are already that the Philadelphia 76ers will have two top-5 picks this summer.

That could have been the Suns.

Does Ryan McDonough want to risk that again?

I’ll end on this thought:

Last season there was a rumor that the Suns were interested in trading for Indiana Pacers superstar small forward Paul George. At the time the rumor connected Devin Booker in the trade, something I think made the trade nearly un-makable. But while I believe that Booker is still the only untouchable on the roster, would a package similar to the one connected to Cousins be able to pry George away? Whether if it’s for Paul George or someone else, if the Suns are patient, could the Suns pry away a player or two without trading a single draft pick?

In the end, with this particular package, who would you rather: DeMarcus Cousins, or Paul George?

DeMarcus Cousins – or the Field?

Be ready for anything, Valley of the Suns fans.

But most importantly – be ready for the Unexpected.