NEW ORLEANS — The fireworks have apparently kicked off well before Thursday’s trade deadline with the Sacramento Kings agreeing to trade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans
The trade, which was first reported by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, will have Cousins pairing up with fellow All-Star big man Anthony Davis, who took home MVP honors in Sunday’s All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center after scoring a record 52-points in the Western Conference’s win.
The reported deal evolved throughout the night and will also involve Omri Casspi going to New Orleans for Tyreke Evans, 2016 first-round pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and first- and second-round draft picks in 2017.
The deal pairs the 6-foot-11 Cousins, a frontcourt All-Star from nearby Mobile, Alabama, with the 6-foot-11 Davis, who on Sunday night was the All-Star Game MVP after scoring 52 points, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s 1962 record of 42.
The move also sends a message that the Pelicans are more concerned with making a 25-game push for the playoffs this spring then where they’ll be drafting next offseason.
The deal was still in the works when Cousins spoke with reporters after the All-Star Game, when he played just two minutes as trade rumors swirled.
He said he was happy with the Kings, but would also be happy playing closer to home and alongside Davis.
“If I’m blessed enough to have a job here, absolutely,” Cousins said. “If that’s what happens.”
New Orleans (23-34) went into the All-Star break 2 + games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff seeding in the Western Conference.
Cousins, like Davis a former collegiate star at Kentucky, is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season. But he is due to become a free agent in 2018 unless the Pelicans can sign him to an All-Star caliber extension. New Orleans will also have to hope Cousins can dial back some of his after-the-whistle intensity and antics. He leads the NBA in technical fouls with 17, putting him one away from another one-game suspension.
While Davis said after the All-Star Game that he wasn’t aware of an impending trade, he said he admired Cousins as a player.
“He’s a great player, dominant in this league, of course, with all the numbers he puts up,” Davis said. “Of course, DeMarcus is an elite player in this league.”
But the Kings decided to move on without him, having not made the playoffs since taking Cousins with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 draft.
The Kings get a player with a lot of potential in the 6-4 Hield, although he has been inconsistent during his rookie season out of Oklahoma, where as a senior he was one of the best players in the nation.
Hield is averaging 8.6 points but has been explosive at times, with a season high of 21 points. The 6-6 Evans, who can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward, will be entering a second stint in Sacramento, where he was drafted in 2009 and went on to be Rookie of the Year. Galloway has been a solid reserve, providing scoring punch from the perimeter.
The 6-foot-9 Casspi has been playing about 19 minutes per game for the Kings this season, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.