The Sacramento Kings are willing to pick up the phone and listen to trade talk—just don’t ask about DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins, he of 104 points over his last two outings alone, won’t be moving at this year’s NBA trade deadline, which occurs on February 18. Forget for a moment his on-court dominance and understand that Cousins is a key part of the franchise’s marketing strategy as it prepares to open a new arena. It’s why Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com hears that Cousins is “untouchable” in trade chats, with the front office also realizing what the big man means off the court:
As the Kings continue to move toward the opening of their new downtown arena the Golden 1 Center in October, Cousins is a central figure in their marketing and sales plans around the new building.
League sources continue to say that Kings president Vlade Divac shuts down conversations about Cousins at ‘hello,’ and that a Cousins deal is a complete non-starter in Sacramento.
So there it is. Some might want to keep seeing Cousins as a trade target because of his volatile personality. He’s had his blowups, even as of late. He initially didn’t mesh well with coach George Karl. He somehow, someway will continue to have his named linked with Kentucky coach John Calipari, who may or may not go pro with any number of different franchises in need of a head coach.
But at the end of the day, the Kings aren’t going to deal a 25-year-old center who does ridiculous feats such as the one explained by ESPN Stats & Info:
Back-to-Back Games with 45 Points & 10 Rebounds – Last 30 Seasons DeMarcus Cousins Antawn Jamison Michael Jordan Charles Barkley
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2016
Cousins averages a silly 27.6/11.4/1.3 slash line right now. He’s been on an absolute tear in the month of January, posting at least 30 points in nine of 12 games. He’s gone for 36, 24, 48 and 56 over his last four. Meanwhile, the Kings sit in eighth place in the Western Conference at 20-24 as winners in six of their last 10.
The Kings might be a franchise in a bit of transition, but long gone are the days where Cousins looks like a likely trade target. He’s too critical on and off the court, with the on-court aspect covered well recently by general manager Vlade Divac.
“He’s the No. 1 big guy in the league,” Divac said, according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger. “The second one is not even close.”
It’s easy to see where this relationship could have exploded and Cousins would be the hottest name on the block right now. Cousins has his rough patches of immaturity at times. The relationship with Karl wasn’t the best. Adding the volatile Rajon Rondo could have caused things to boil over. It goes on.
Instead, though, the Rondo-Cousins paring is downright incredible. The odd mixture of players around them continues to develop better chemistry as the season continues. Karl has gone from an embattled coach to one who silently makes it all tick. And Divac’s 100 percent correct in Cousins’ ranking among players underneath the basket.
It’s remarkable how things have unfolded, really. So while chatter might have made sense in an alternate timeline, it certainly doesn’t now. Kyler just provided some extra reasoning, further reinforcement that the Kings and Cousins will be together for the long haul. Rebuilders have to look elsewhere for a hopeful implosion to feast on the aftermath.