Yesterday, DeMarcus Cousins tweeted an emoji of a snake between two grasses. At first, it doesn’t look like anything more than a weird art.
But NBA fans know that he’s trying to send a message to the Sacramento Kings‘s current head coach, George Karl – when the grass is cut, the snakes will show.
This isn’t the first time that Karl’s former players called him out. I remember Carmelo Anthony first saying this just after he was traded to the New York Knicks. George Karl even managed to call out Andre Iguodala as the snake that gave away his gameplan against the Golden State Warriors during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, that resulted to his imminent firing even after winning the Coach of the Year award in the same season.
Cousins has always been a Mike Malone loyalist, and he was reportedly very frustrated for not getting any input when the Kings surprisingly fired him midway into the young season, boasting an 11-13 record with losses piling up after losing DeMarcus to injury. George Karl was hired by the Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, who believed that his uptempo style would benefit the young team full of athleticism. Karl started his tenure with the Kings on February, and with 30 games left into another lost season. A record of 11-19 puts them in the 13th place of the Western Conference, that eventually became the 6th pick for the upcoming NBA Draft.
In his first official preseason with the Kings, Karl decided to look at his roster, and there’s one name that he can’t get out of his head – DeMarcus Cousins.
He heard the old stories about the 24-year old. Good that can be great, but stubborn. Can dominate the game, but too hardheaded. A winner, if he gets his head in the game.
His former coaches, Paul Westphal and Keith Smart, told Karl everything he needed to know and had enough reasons to get rid of him. Even during Mike Malone’s tenure, those close to him continued to suggest numerous times of trading Cousins for veterans and other assets that would benefit the team. But Malone knew who Cousins really is – a great player, a dominant force in the paint, a winner. It’s why they had a great bond and found success in each other. And it’s why DeMarcus never really was into what George Karl is trying to do with the Kings.
Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac, VP of basketball operations, continue to deny that the Sacramento Kings have made Cousins available, but sources continue to suggest that they are looking to move him, only for the right price.
Enter the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s been 3 years since the Lakers have entered the postseason, and 5 years since they won their 16th championship. In that span, LA has already fired 2 coaches (Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni), lost key players (Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol), and even managed to miss out on 2 franchise players (Chris Paul, Dwight Howard).What’s even worse is the 2 successive season-ending injuries that Kobe Bryant had to endure, who has played in 119 of the possible 246 games. While there are some young talent in sophomores Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, there’s not much enough room to adjust for the franchise that has always been synonymous with winning.
Luckily for them, a franchise center might be available. And the Lakers have their own share of franchise centers that became great individuals, dominant forces, and winners.
The Los Angeles Lakers currently hold the 2nd pick in the upcoming draft, and it’s widely believed that they’ll use it to pick Jahlil Okafor, from Duke University. A core of Clarkson-Randle-Okafor would be a good foundation to start with, especially in the post-Kobe era that would end after this season. But can a storied franchise be willing to rebuild through the draft before they find success again? Lakers’ own GM, Mitch Kupchak, doesn’t believe so. In fact, he has been dangling the #2 pick in trade talks for a veteran that could help the team instantly, especially now that Kobe is heading into the sunset.
They’ve had explanatory talks with the Sacramento Kings, that centers (pun intended) around Cousins, and even have the Orlando Magic on board. Not much has been released to the public of the package involved, but I wouldn’t be surprise if it was this:
Lakers – DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)
Sacramento – Nikola Vucevic (ORL) and Julius Randle (LAL)
Orlando – Jordan Hill‘s expiring contract of $9M and Jordan Clarkson (LAL)
Lakers get their franchise center for the next decade (DeMarcus is only 24 years old). Sacramento would acquire 2 young talents that could form into a formidable frontcourt in the years to come. Orlando starts a new by clearing up cap space, and having the luxury of Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench for Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. To sweeten the deal for Orlando, the Lakers might need to include the #2 pick, which they would reluctantly do so.
If this deal gets finalized within the next few days before the NBA Draft, expect the Lakers to pick D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State University to be their point guard of the future, or trade down to acquire Justise Wislow from Duke to fill their wing spot that previously had Wesley Johnson, and sign Rajon Rondo for $10M a year. Kristaps Porzingis could also be in play here, which would definitely free up some space in the paint for Cousins to work on.
It won’t be a huge surprise for Sacramento to pick Emmanuel Mudiay, who forego the collegiate ranks to play overseas in China. Mudiay would be a solid fit in the guard spot, especially in the run-and-gun system that George Karl will be implementing next season.
Orlando Magic will need to draft a guy like Justise Winslow, who can be a great defensive wing for them, along with Victor Oladipo. The impending free agency of Tobias Harris also makes a strong case for Oladipo to play in the income-tax free state of Florida.
A franchise center in need of a franchise. It’s only a matter of time before we see which franchise does DeMarcus Cousins truly belong.
– David Gamboa
(image from: http://bit.ly/1dfu05d)