• To trade or not to trade DeMarcus Cousins? Kings president Geoff Petrie declared this week that Cousins will not be moved. But no one is believing it, because this is one franchise that has become impossible to analyze. The Kings have the worst arena in the NBA and no plans to build a new home. They have an escapable lease that would enable them to move quickly; whether they will be sold along the way is anyone's guess. Petrie is in the final year of his agreement and a contract extension is not anticipated. They haven't made the playoffs since 2006, when Rick Adelman was replaced; the ensuing five coaches have gone 171-337.
The fall from five straight seasons of 50 wins or more has been staggering. If the Kings were more stable, with an environment that demanded excellence and accountability from top to bottom -- an environment that doesn't exist, as proved by the results of these last seven seasons -- then they might not be experiencing so many difficulties with Cousins. His issues are a symptom of the larger problem that has eaten away at the franchise.
We've seen this kind of thing before with unhappy players, and now it's going to play itself out again. The Kings are going to claim that Cousins isn't available. When teams call with trade proposals, the Kings will demand more than they can possibly get for Cousins. They'll be bargaining from a position of weakness that has been building for seven years. Rivals will believe they can salvage Cousins' career by establishing him in a more disciplined environment; they won't have to offer equal value for him because the Kings have little bargaining power. On their watch Cousins' value has hit bottom. All he has to do to force a trade out of Sacramento is to behave badly a few more times and shame them into dealing him. It's how these things go.
The biggest mistake the Kings can make is to blame all of this on Cousins. They knew who he was when they drafted him. The Kings will never return to prosperity under the ownership of the Maloof family unless they recognize where they've gone wrong and learn from their mistakes. It's too late to save their relationship with Cousins, or to salvage an equitable trade. The best they can do is to either (1) sell the team or else (2) hold themselves accountable in order to rebuild the franchise properly, so that one day the Kings can be the solidly managed organization that is positioned to steal a talent like Cousins in a trade, rather than be the team that is forced to give him away.