When the Sacramento Kings struck a deal to send All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a future first and a future second-round pick, fans were hit with a sudden wave of shock. The confused Kings fans began asking questions, pondering whether the decision was a good one.
After all, the deal seemingly seemed lopsided in New Orleans’ favor. It didn’t help that Kings general manager Vlade Divac admitted to having a better offer on the table just two days prior to the deal getting done, of course. Nor did it help looking back on how Divac promised the world, including Cousins and his agents, that he wouldn’t be trading his star center.
Some of those in Sacramento will tell you they’re happy to move on from Cousins, a player known for dominating on the court but stirring up trouble off of it. Others, not so much. Cousins has been one of the most significant figures in Sacramento since being drafted in 2010, assisting in numerous campaigns throughout the city and being taken in as the area’s golden boy during his stay.
The decision to trade away Cousins broke the hearts of many, and shined light on the Kings’ new direction and plan as a franchise. Sacramento Bee writer Ailene Voisin recently caught up with the man who pulled the trigger on the trade, Vlade Divac, and conducted a phenomenal interview on why the Kings decided to move on from Cousins.
“It was a lot of things, but basically, I thought it was time to start over,” Divac told Voisin. “There was a lot of bad stuff happening here the last five years, a lot of bad habits. There were always issues, many you don’t even know about. Now I believe strongly this was the right thing to do for our future. Now I have a clear vision. This city deserves better, and I want to create that. With DeMarcus’ situation, I basically was stuck.”
During his time with the Kings, Cousins saw his name in the headlines of stories no player wishes they would see themselves in. Tension with the coaching staff, accruing dozens of technical fouls, (even leading in the league in numerous occasions), getting into trouble with the law, and speaking to reporters in a derogatory manner, to name a few problems.
It’s clear that Divac has formed a new plan of healing the Kings’ off-court nature. Agents should not question whether their clients belong with the Kings simply due to off-court drama, after all. In addition to Cousins, Divac made the decision to move on from another player who was seemingly unfit of this new culture: Matt Barnes.
“I want to build a culture, and he didn’t fit in my culture,” Divac told Voisin. “Before we were just talking, preaching. But if we’re going to do it, you do it. The good thing about our situation now is that we have some very nice assets, a few more shooting guards, and time to take a look at Willie (Cauley-Stein), Skal (Labissiere) and Malachi (Richardson) when he gets healthy, and Georgios Papagiannis. Ty Lawson has been very good for us, and Darren (Collison) is playing well, and he will be a free agent. Kosta (Koufas) has been good. We have (Bogdan) Bogdanovic coming over next season as another asset.”
For Vlade Divac and the Kings, a general manager controlling a franchise of new blood, spirit and hope, the removal of DeMarcus Cousins and Matt Barnes was more than a basketball decision. It was a decision that Divac hopes will change the outlook and way those outside of the Kings will view their franchise: A well-respected organization, free of off-court drama and negative press.
Perhaps dealing Cousins and waiving Barnes are two steps in the right direction. But for the Kings, only time is capable of truly telling.