Breaking down the DeMarcus Cousins trade

Bobby Marks
·The Vertical
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are joining forces in New Orleans. (AP)
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are joining forces in New Orleans. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the details of Sacramento’s major deal with New Orleans.


New Orleans receives:
DeMarcus Cousins
Omri Casspi

Sacramento receives:
Buddy Hield
Langston Galloway
Tyreke Evans
2017 New Orleans first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3)
2017 Philadelphia second-round pick (via Pelicans)

New Orleans has a roster spot open and the prorated minimum exception to sign a player. Sacramento will need to waive a player.


Faced with the looming decision on the $209 million designated maximum contract extension for Cousins this summer, Sacramento could have gone in two different directions: either sign their franchise center to the five-year extension in July that would have averaged $42 million over the course of the deal, thus making him untradeable, or rebuild through the 2017 draft and create future roster flexibility.

Instead of hanging onto Cousins, facing future mediocrity and looking at a potential sweep by Golden State in April had the Kings made the playoffs, the front office focused on the long term and not immediate results.

Sacramento, with its hands tied in the June draft because the Bulls control its pick outside of the top 10, now will likely retain that pick and add the Pelicans’ potential lottery pick.

Those are quality assets considering the Kings’ 2019 first-round pick was traded in 2015 to Philadelphia.

Sacramento could also have the services of 2014 first-round pick Bogdan Bogdanovic as well.

Acquired last June, the 24-year-old shooting guard has had a strong season with Fenerbahce Istanbul and played well for Serbia in the 2016 Olympics.

Heading into July, Sacramento could have eight players on first-round rookie contracts.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement that starts in July benefits teams that retain their own players, and Sacramento should be able to take advantage of the new rules.

The impact of this trade will not be felt until the June draft and will depend on how the Kings develop their young core and how they manage the salary cap.

Will the Pelicans be able to re-sign Cousins? (Getty Images)
Will the Pelicans be able to re-sign Cousins? (Getty Images)

New Orleans
The Pelicans focused on two elements: surrounding Anthony Davis with maximum talent and making a final playoff push.

With Cousins under contract for this season and next, New Orleans has two franchise-level talents to build around.

The risk for general manager Dell Demps is giving up a potential 2017 lottery pick for a player who will be a free agent in 2018.

While Cousins’ maturity could be called into question at times, the move could be worth the risk, even if Cousins signs elsewhere in 2018.


New Orleans
The Pelicans have $87.8 million in guaranteed contracts heading into July, not including Jrue Holiday’s $16.9 million free-agent cap hold, which pushes the Pelicans over the salary cap.

New Orleans can re-sign Holiday using Bird rights and still have the $8.4 million full mid-level exception and $3.29 million bi-annual exception.

The Kings have $58.5 million in guaranteed contracts this summer, including $26 million in player options for Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes and Galloway

The Kings also have cap flexibility with Arron Afflalo and Anthony Tolliver, who are slated to earn a combined $20.5 million next season but only $3.5 million is guaranteed.

The player options of Gay, Barnes and Galloway will likely impact what Sacramento will do with Afflalo and Tolliver.

The Kings could have roughly $35 million in cap space if Afflalo and Tolliver are waived, and the free-agent cap holds of Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore and Darren Collison are renounced.

The cap room factors in the Kings’ own first-round pick along with the Pelicans’ first and Bogdanovic.

The Kings are banking that Buddy Hield will become a player. (AP)
The Kings are banking that Buddy Hield will become a player. (AP)


The players involved in the deal cannot be traded for two months from the date of the trade if they are aggregated with another player in a deal, but they can be traded to a team with cap space as long as they aren’t aggregated.

New Orleans
The All-Star center, signed to a four-year, $65 million rookie extension in 2013, will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season.

Cousins currently ranks 12th among centers in salary this season.

The Cousins cap hit is $16,957,900 this year and $18,063,850 in 2017-18.

Because of the trade, Cousins is not eligible to receive the Designated Player Veteran Extension from the Pelicans this summer.

Cousins is eligible to receive a 120 percent raise on his 2017-18 $18 million salary, which would start in 2018-19. The extension, however, would be $10 million less than the maximum salary of $30.6 million that Cousins could earn as an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

The Pelicans can renegotiate Cousins’ contract this summer and bump his salary to the $30.6 million max salary slot but would need cap space to do so.

Because of the Holiday cap hold, New Orleans is not projected to have cap space.

Cousins will have full Bird rights with the Pelicans when he becomes a free agent in 2018, and New Orleans can exceed the cap to sign him to the projected $30.9 million first-year maximum salary.

Casspi is in the final year of his contract and the cap hit is $2,963,814. Casspi will have early Bird rights this summer with the Pelicans.

Evans is in the final year of his contract.

The cap hit is $10,661,286, including a $457,531 trade bonus that New Orleans will be responsible for.

Evans will have full Bird rights this summer with the Kings.

Hield is in the first year of his rookie scale contract.

Hield’s cap hits: $3,517,200 for 2016-17, and $3,675,480, $3,833,760 and $4,861,208 for each of the next three seasons.

Sacramento has until Oct. 31 to pick up the third-year option on his contract.

Galloway is in the first year of a two-year, $10.63 million contract signed this summer with the Pelicans.

The cap hit for 2016-17 is $5,200,000 with Galloway having a $5,434,000 player option for next season.

Sacramento is planning to keep Galloway.

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