NEW ORLEANS — In a blockbuster deal that came with dramatic timing, the New Orleans Pelicans landed DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings Sunday for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a first and second round pick in 2017, according to a person familiar with the trade.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the trade has not been announced.
And with that, the Kings made a shocking pick on their future as they neared a free agency fork in the road this summer.
For months, the notion of Cousins eventually signing a five-year, $207 million deal as the Kings’ ‘designated player’ this summer was widely considered a foregone conclusion.
Even with the struggles of the past six-plus seasons, with the Kings having never won more than 33 games since Cousins was drafted fifth overall out of Kentucky, he spoke openly of his desire to stay in Sacramento. Instead, the deal that would send him so much closer to his hometown of Mobile, Ala. got done while Davis was starring in the All-Star game and Cousins (who played just two minutes) was, in essence, waiting to be handed his new Pelicans jersey.
This is a culture move for the Kings, who are extremely fond of Hield and who were desperate to replenish their depleted draft assets en route to another rebuild.
Cousins is averaging a career-high 27.8 points this season (on 45.2% shooting) to go along with 10.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 blocks. He’s also making a career-high 1.7 three-pointers per game (on 35.6% shooting).
We don’t even know where to go… pic.twitter.com/NV1ySfJvun
— Andrew Rogers (@Andrew_Rogers_) February 20, 2017
Hield is averaging 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in his first NBA season. He was picked sixth in this year’s draft by the Pelicans and has played 20.4 minutes a night for the Pelicans and started 37 of the team’s 57 games.
Evans, who was drafted by the Kings with the fourth overall pick in 2009 and spent the first four seasons of his career in Sacramento, is averaging a career-low 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds this season while recovering from multiple knee surgeries.
All-Star MVP Anthony Davis of the Pelicans was asked about the possibility of Cousins joining his team but the time didn’t know the move had happened.
“He’s a great player, dominant in this league, of course, with all the numbers he put up,” Davis said. “But I haven’t heard anything. So I’m going to let the management, once again, do what they do, and when the time is right, they’ll come talk to me about it. Of course, DeMarcus is an elite player in this league.”