Boogie Down to the NOLA
Professional Sports is a dirty game. I'll even compare it to the dope game that is destroying black communities in America, but that is a different discussion. The similarities I see in the dope game and professional sports is the shadiness that occurs within the business.
On Feb 6. Sacramento Kings GM, Vlade Divac, publicly said that Boogie Cousins was not available for trade.
13 days later: "Breaking News: Kings agree to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans"
Loyalty in professional sports is a myth, just like it's a myth in the dope game. I try to believe that loyalty has a place within the professional sports world, but this transaction is proof that loyalty has no place.
Boogie for weeks has said that he would like to finish his career in Sac-Town, despite never winning more than 35 games during his tenure there. A big reason for him wanting to stay could be the 5-year $209 million contract extension he was eligible to sign this summer; but he used words like "legacy", "home", and "loyalty" to make everyone believe that it was deeper than rap.
The change of heart by the Kings' front-office was very abrupt, but listening to Divac in the press conference, it sounds like they've already had this plan in place. The only one that didn't know about the plan is Boogie. Divac said that the Kings needed a new "culture" and it was time to work on the future, a future without Boogie. Divac also said that he had a better deal on the table two days prior to All-Star Sunday but didn't pull the trigger.
Kings owner, Vivek Ranadivé, is a big Buddy Hield fan, so to him, this is probably the best deal possible. Along with Hield, the Kings will receive a 1st and 2nd round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft this summer. If the Pelicans fail to make the playoffs, the Kings can possibly have two lottery picks. How they will use and develop those picks is the real question. The Kings have not had great success at evaluating talent. They drafted Hassan Whiteside and Isiah Thomas, both of whom are doing great things in the NBA, but not with the Kings.
This will be the first time Boogie will play with an elite NBA player. The Sacremento media can blame Boogie all they want, but the fact is the Kings' front office never put anything around him. The talent they had like Thomas and Whiteside, they eventually gave away. The media has a gripe with Boogie because he doesn't allow them to say what they want about him. He has feuded with the media throughout his career, which could have played a part in the Kings secretly trying to move him. The Sacremento media never gave Boogie a fair chance. They never critiqued him by his situation, only criticizing him for the negative things that went on. The narrative they created was that he was an immature player that his teammates hated. The story was never about how the Kings need to find Boogie some help; it was about Boogie being the wrong player for the Kings' franchise.
Now Boogie is playing a few miles away from his hometown, with another Kentucky Wildcat, Anthony Davis.
How will it work? Can it work?
Boogie and Davis have similar games, both skilled offensive big men that can work inside-out. This is the first time in recent memory where the top two big men in the league are playing on the same team. In theory, this could be a better version of what Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are Memphis. What made Gasol and Randolph special was that their styles were distinctive. Gasol was the ball-handling big man that could pass and play defense, while Z-BO was the scorer and bruiser on the box. On paper, Boogie and Davis have the skills to do the exact same thing but how are the roles going to be assigned?
Both players are in the prime of their careers and are putting up great numbers but that doesn't mean it will translate into success with them sharing space. For these two players, space is very important and I'm not sure if Alvin Gentry can figure out an offense where both can operate how they want. Someone will have to sacrifice and we don't know which of the two will be willing to do that at this point in their careers. The only sign that this will be a match is the Pelicans' history of searching for an offensive center to put beside Davis, who will play power forward. Their quest started last year when they tried to trade for Greg Monroe. Since then they have been connected to Brooke Lopez, Andre Drummond, and most recently Boogie Cousins.
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that Boogie and his agent has already announced they will not sign an extension if he was traded to another team. Putting that out there probably played a part in the Kings not being able to trade him sooner. The Pelicans obviously feel confident that they can get him to sign an extension by summer '18, banking on the Wildcat connection between him and Davis. It will take more than that to keep Boogie in the NOLA.
The Pelicans will need to bring in some talent this summer to make themselves a true contender in the West. Even with the two best big men, the Pelicans do not have enough to be a perennial contender in the Western Conference. Jrue Holiday is the only bonafide guard on the roster and he will be a free agent this summer. Picking up Boogie could help convince him to stay in the NOLA, but is he the right point guard for this situation? A special coach and point guard will be needed to make this unique combo of bigs work. The Pelicans look to be the winner of the trade but they made an impulsive decision that could backfire.