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The Yetisburg Address: 2016-17 Week 17

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The Kings say bye-bye, Boogie and hello to a new era.

Kimani Okearah

The Kings did it y’all. They actually went and did it. They traded DeMarcus Cousins and hit the reset button in the only real way they could. The idea itself is commendable. The execution however was not.

But we can talk about the execution later (and we will). It’s not every week you have something blindside you like the DeMarcus Cousins trade. It’s amazing how quickly that came together. Local reporters with close ties to the Kings and Cousins were caught unawares, and a trade that seemingly had zero chance of happening became a done deal in a matter of hours. It was shocking for more reasons than one, and the ramifications of the trade won’t be known for years.

The High Post

Hey remember how in last week’s Yetisburg Address I said something like “I’ll be surprised if the Kings make a big move at the Trade Deadline”? Yeah me neither.

The best part about this trade is it has set the Kings upon a path of no return. There is now no choice but to think about the long-term health of this franchise when making decisions.

It seems clear that Vlade Divac understood this maybe as far back as last summer, when he made a couple of trades in the draft that were seemingly at odds with building a playoff team around DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings instead traded for youth to develop rather than play immediately, and two of the prospects the Kings picked were big men. It was confusing at the time, but as many posited at the time, it wasn’t as confusing if you thought that the Kings might be thinking about a future without DeMarcus Cousins.

Now that youth is front and center. Four of Sacramento’s 15 players are rookies from this year’s first round now. The Kings also have Bogdan Bogdanovic coming over from Europe next summer. Willie Cauley-Stein is in his second year and seems ready to make the most of his opportunity (and he responded amazingly well in the first post-Cousins game with a 29 point, 10 rebound performance).

I’m also encouraged by the fact that Dave Joerger has seemed more and more willing to give that youth a chance. Skal Labissiere, who hadn’t seen meaningful minutes all season, came into the game in the first quarter in both of Sacramento’s first post-Cousins games. More importantly he looked like he belonged on the floor.

The Kings have a long road ahead of them, but that was the case with or without DeMarcus Cousins. I’ll miss Boogie, but I won’t miss the angst and worry and arguments about how this team would ever manage to build a winner around him when they’ve already wasted so much time and assets on failed attempts.

The Low Post

Now, even though I commend the Kings for doing such a painful, but possibly necessary, move, I can’t commend their handling of it on so many levels.

For starters, my biggest beef with this decision is undoubtedly how long the Kings waited before they did it. By waiting so long, the Kings gave up leverage and just decreased Boogie’s valuation. Sure, getting Buddy Hield and a first and second rounder is more than the Thunder got for Durant, but it was about as low a return as a reasonable person would have hoped for. The Kings would have gotten more if they had done it this summer (or two ago), and they wouldn’t have wasted half a season in the process. I mentioned above that I think Vlade wanted to do it a while ago while maybe Vivek wasn’t on board just yet. As GM, Vlade has to be able to convince his owner to act in the team’s best interest, and waiting and prolonging this situation until the last possible minute was not.

The Kings also handled the post-trade explanations poorly as well. In their press release they cited character and culture as the primary motivators of this trade, and numerous reports indicated Cousins’ recent behavior and antics as the figurative last straws. That was a needless shot to what had been the franchise’s best player, and also directly at odds with the franchise’s own actions (like not cutting Matt Barnes after his nightclub incident, but doing it when they had no other choice).

Divac also made a flippant comment about having a better deal “two days ago” only to blame Cousins’ agents for sabotaging the deal. Those aren’t the kinds of things that you say to try to make yourself look better, and don’t need to be revealed at all. Now there’s the fact that Divac went to the media three weeks ago and went on the record that Cousins wasn’t going to be traded. That was a completely unnecessary reveal (even if he believed it at the time) that now just makes the Kings look bad in retrospect.

With Cousins gone, there’s no further scapegoat for the front office and ownership. The team’s success or failures lies squarely on their shoulders now.

The View From Section 214

From the land of arse-pulled predictions, let’s go to the butt board!

Untitled

Team W L W L Games ahead of Kings
Team W L W L Games ahead of Kings
Miami 11 12 38 44 6
Denver* 11 13 37 45 5
Dallas 12 12 35 47 3
Milwaukee 10 16 35 47 3
New Orleans 11 12 34 48 2
Portland 9 15 34 48 2
Charlotte 9 15 34 48 2
New York 9 14 33 49 1
Kings 7 16 32 50 0
Minnesota 9 14 32 50 0
Philadelphia 9 15 31 51 -1
Orlando 8 14 30 52 -2
Phoenix 6 18 24 58 -8
LA Lakers 5 18 24 58 -8
Brooklyn 4 21 13 69 -19
*Denver makes playoffs

I came to these conclusions in the most unscientific of manners. I looked at home and road records to date, records since January 1, remaining schedule, record-impacting trade deadline deals, and I adjusted downward slightly for drop-off in performance as teams get officially eliminated from the playoff chase.

I really see the Lakers as the only team that might brazenly tank, due to the 1-3 protection on their pick. The Suns might lose interest over the last week or two, and the Kings are going to lose games due to the lack of top 100 talent.

On the other end of the scale, Miami, Denver (who I have securing the #8 seed in the West), Dallas, New Orleans and Portland will play to the very end or close to it, while it will be business as usual for everyone else.

If these numbers prove to be correct (and they will most assuredly not prove to be correct), the Kings will tie for the 6th-7th worst record in the league, tied with Minnesota. A coin flip determines whether the Kings or T-Wolves get the 6th pick, and my coin flip (naturally) came up for Minnesota. The Kings would secure their 1st round pick and convey their 2nd round pick to the Bulls. The Kings would then await the ping pong ball drop as it pertains to any potential pick swap with Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, New Orleans finishes in a tie for 9th-10th-11th. Same thing happens here with the coin flips, and after a series of flips it came up (naturally) with New Orleans landing the worst pick.

Of course, the ping pong balls will have the final say, but I prognosticate a top 7 pick for the Kings, as well as a late lottery pick. The Kings will also have Philadelphia’s 2nd round pick via the Cousins trade.

And if I’m going this far into the butt-pulled abyss, I might as well go all-in. The Kings draft Frank Ntilikina (PG from the international leagues), Ivan Rabb (PF – Cal), and, oh, what the heck, Semi Ojeleye (F – SMU).

Your turn – use the thread to lay out what picks the Kings will land and who they will use them on. This is completely premature and a total waste of time, but we’re Kings’ fans. What else would you expect us to do?

Kimani’s Photo of the Week

No new photos from Kimani this week but here are some of my favorites.

Highlight of the Week

Player of the Week

Buddy Hield

15.5 PTS, .550 FG%, .375 3P%, 3.5 REB, 1.5 AST, 0.5 STL in 26.0 MPG

Buddy Hield wasn’t Sacramento’s best player this week, but he was the most important. Buddy Hield will always be inextricably tied to DeMarcus Cousins in the mind of many Kings fans. The odds are stacked against Buddy Hield (or whatever players the Kings get with New Orleans’ picks) ever being as good as DeMarcus Cousins, but as long as the team gets better and Buddy’s a part of that? Nobody will mind.

Buddy will get the chance to make his mark on the league. He’s improved as the year’s gone on and will be a more featured part of Sacramento’s offense than he was in New Orleans. His first two games in a Kings uniform were solid, but not explosive. I personally liked seeing him use his ballhandling and strength to get to the basket or free himself up for a jumper, showing he’s not just a spot-up shooter.

I’m looking forward to seeing Buddy grow, and hopefully he finishes this year out strong.

Upcoming Schedule

Feb. 27th vs. Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m.

Mar. 1st vs. Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m.