It seemed inevitable entering the summer that the Sacramento Kings would trade Kosta Koufos. The veteran center had been a significant signing last year, but never meshed alongside DeMarcus Cousins. If the two couldn't play together, the team would be forever limited in lineup flexibility. And that was before the Kings spent two first round picks on big men.
And yet here we are, with Koufos still on the roster and no indications that he’ll be traded before training camp. It could still happen, of course, but the market for big men seems to have dried up, with teams preferring instead to back of a truck of money for the likes of Timofey Mozgov.
It still seems likely that Koufos will be traded before the deadline, but there's a scenario that could see Koufos remain with the Kings.
It remains an ongoing debate around here whether the Kings should finally trade DeMarcus Cousins. It's easy to see the drafting of George Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere as signs that the Kings are preparing for a post-Cousins era. That could be nothing more than speculation. Only Vlade Divac knows for certain.
But let's imagine that the Kings are going to give Cousins a brief opportunity to mesh with Dave Joerger and then trade Cousins if he feuds with yet another coach. Not an implausible scenario. And in this scenario, suddenly Koufos becomes a more important part of the Kings long-term plans. You wouldn't want to rely strictly on Willie Cauley-Stein and Anthony Tolliver as your front court, with only rookies as depth. You’d want a proven veteran who is capable of being a solid starter, who has familiarity with his coach’s system, and is on a reasonable contract. Koufos checks all the boxes.
None of this is to suggest that it's Koufos or Cousins with no in-between. Koufos could be traded next week and it wouldn't necessarily mean anything for Cousins or the Kings’ plans for him.
Koufos is a valuable asset for the Kings, in many ways. He's a solid locker room presence, he's a good player, he's on a very team-friendly contract. Koufos is valuable on the Kings or in a trade. The Kings shouldn't rush to trade him, but I'd still say it seems likely he won't be with the Kings much longer.