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Cousins trade talk feels different this time

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It really seems like the Kings could part ways with their big man.

Kimani Okearah

There have been literally hundreds of trade rumors involving DeMarcus Cousins since he joined the Sacramento Kings but I can’t recall the possibility of a trade ever feeling more real than it is now.

The big difference appears to be Vivek Ranadivé’s seeming change of heart when it comes to giving DeMarcus Cousins a maximum contract extension for $200+ million this summer.

From the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix:

In recent weeks, Ranadive has become more open to the front office’s willingness to trade Cousins, passing on the commitment of a five-year, $209 million designated maximum contract extension this summer, league sources said. Cousins’ uneven behavior in recent weeks has softened Ranadive’s resolve to hold on to Cousins. Two incidents in particular – an expletive-laced remark Cousins made about Golden State after Sacramento’s overtime win over the Warriors on Feb. 6 and the astonishing 17th technical foul this season, and resulting one-game suspension, against New Orleans on Feb. 12 – have caused Ranadive to have serious concerns about tethering the franchise to Cousins long term. As a result, Ranadive has started to adopt management’s concerns about Cousins’ temperament to become a franchise pillar, sources said. Nevertheless, Ranadive has gone back and forth in recent days about his willingness to ultimately unload Cousins, sources said.

Regardless of what happens with Cousins, this is a troubling sign. Cousins has not changed much in the entire time he’s been with Sacramento. These recent incidents with Cousins aren’t even that bad compared to some of his previous tantrums. So it’s very troubling to me that the Kings majority owner might be waffling on something that seemed so certain just a month ago, when the Kings were publicly saying they were going to lock Cousins up, especially when nothing has really changed.

But then, the Kings under Ranadivé have not necessarily made sense in a lot of their moves. It did not make sense for them to fire Michael Malone when they did. It did not make sense to not re-sign Isaiah Thomas. It did not make sense to not fire George Karl at the All-Star break last year.

Cousins played just two minutes in Sunday’s All-Star games, adding fuel to the fire that he might soon be traded. However, that more likely was because Cousins himself didn’t want to play big minutes.

Wojnarowski has been very active on this story and it seems like there are deals on the table from multiple teams ready to go.

Again, it’s up to Vivek what happens here. Vivek has claimed to be keeping his hands off on basketball decisions, but it only makes sense that he would give a “yes” or “no” on trading his franchise player. But he can’t be indecisive. He also shouldn’t be the one choosing between offers, that should be up to the front office. If Vlade Divac and company decide they want to build this team without Cousins, then they should trade him so the team can start focusing on building anew. But if the team doesn’t trade him, an extension is inevitable and Vivek better be willing to pony up that money.

This all should have been decided a long time ago and seemingly was. The numbers for Cousins extension shouldn’t have been surprising. Cousins’ outbursts were not an unknown quantity. But this is the Kings, and the Kings don’t tend to make sense.

We might have seen the last of Cousins in a Kings uniform. We also might have simply seen the last wave of attempts to try to pry him out of Sacramento before he inks a big extension and trades become more difficult. But whatever the case, these talks feel real, more real than any before. It’s going to be a long three and a half days. As always, we’ll keep you updated as the situation develops.