In the NBA, the importance of a superstar player can’t be overstated. Only the 2004 Detroit Pistons stand out as a team in recent memory to win a title without a true superstar. After a promising season last year, along with the addition of Al Horford in the offseason, the Boston Celtics came into this year with high expectations. However, with a mediocre start to the season, Boston, who is stocked with young talent and draft picks, might be ready to make the move to acquire a star via trade. Could Demarcus Cousins be the man to fill that role for the Celtics?
Demarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings is one of the more complex players in the NBA. Cousins’ talent is unlimited: a brilliant post scorer, strong rebounder, with unique athleticism and even a three point stroke. Cousins has averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds in three consecutive seasons, including 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds last season. Cousins, however, remains immature and volatile, earning a top 6 spot in technical fouls in every season he’s entered the NBA.
On top of the technicals, the Kings have posted a 168-320 record since Cousins arrived in the 2010-11 season. Of course, Cousins cannot be blamed for all the Kings’ trouble. The organization is a mess and the front office has not come remotely close to putting the right talent next to Cousins to enable the team to thrive. The Kings’ inability to succeed despite the presence of a potential star in Cousins has led many to believe the Kings will look to shop their All-Star center before he decides to bolt in free agency in 2018. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher heard from league sources that the Boston Celtics, with their stockpile of draft picks and young players, could be the ideal trade partner for the Sacramento Kings.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 18, 2016
As mentioned previously, the Celtics have had a mediocre start to the season. For a team with high expectations, that is certainly a disappointment. Some of those struggles can be attributed to injuries to Al Horford and Jae Crowder, but the Celtics’ defense has allowed 105.8 points per game, and the team recently lost to the 2-10 New Orleans Pelicans.
Trading star players is a delicate art, and often results in prolonged rebuilding processes for the teams that do. The Denver Nuggets received a boat-load of talent from the New York Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011 but have made the playoffs just once in the full seasons since trading their star. The Knicks, of course, have had their own struggles, so trading for stars can be a double-edged sword.
One hiccup of a potential deal could be Brad Stevens’ unwillingness to coach the emotional Cousins. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently told David Thorpe he doesn’t believe Stevens wants to coach Cousins:
I don’t think Brad Stevens wants to touch DeMarcus Cousins with a 10-foot pole. And that carries a lot of weight there. Not only that, they just signed a center. And they think Al Horford is a center, and will play more center as pieces come and go in Boston. And so I don’t know what that does to Boston’s hunger to acquire a superstar big man who is going to be a locker room question mark.
Stevens’ hesitancy makes sense, as Cousins is a ball-dominant center who could potentially disrupt the smooth, pass-happy offense that Stevens and the Celtics run.
However, the Celtics are likely in need of a star presence in order to put themselves in the conversation of the east elite with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With everything considered, while risky for both sides, a swap seems like it could be worth the risk for both franchises. The Kings are in desperate need of a restart, and the addition of quality players such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, along with high draft picks (the Celtics own the Brooklyn Nets’ first round picks in each of the next two seasons) could be a good starting point for the Kings.
Cousins will likely continue to struggle to find team success in Sacramento and the Celtics will find a hard time dethroning LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers without more firepower. This move could help on both fronts.