If DeMarcus Cousins is traded (again) before the NBA trade deadline next February, expect the Pelicans to trade him to either the Washington Wizards or Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Wizards are in the same spot the Thunder were earlier this year – building around an MVP-level point guard but still one or two big pieces away from true contention. It’s unlikely that Ernie Grunfeld will be as wise and as unbelievably lucky as Thunder boss Sam Presti in the coming months when it comes to a potential trade, but there have already been rumblings regarding Cousins and his desire to play with John Wall.
Wall has openly discussed this in the past, though it should be noted that Wall often speaks about luring other NBA A-listers (think Paul George) to Washington.
“I talked to him,” Wall said before Cousins was traded from Sacramento to New Orleans. “[Cousins] said he would come to D.C., but he didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know he was going to be traded like that. We thought it was going to be later on or he was just going to stay [in Sacramento]. It shocked me just like it shocked him.”
Last November, Wall discussed the likelihood of former a super-team with Cousins at some point. The question then was, “where?” But with Wall having signed a massive contract extension this past summer, and with Cousins set to be a free agent in 2018, Washington will be the destination if the former Kentucky teammates join forces once again.
“Just trying to figure out what’s going to happen, you know what I mean?” Wall told the Washington Post. “Whatever we feel like gives us the best opportunity to win. I know what our [team in Washington] is here and what I want to do here. [Joining up with Cousins again] is something I keep in my mind.”
Cousins has been asked about it a ton as well and left it at, “It’s come up.”
If the Pelicans get off to a rocky start to the season, which is entirely conceivable, expect the Cousins NBA trade rumors whispers to turn into shouts. New Orleans will not want to let Cousins walk away in free agency next summer for nothing, so it would likely sell him off on the cheap around the NBA trade deadline.
The problem for the Wizards is that they don’t have many desirable trade assets outside of their core. They could offer New Orleans Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, but they don’t have much in the way of quality draft picks to dangle … unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 2018 Brooklyn Nets draft pick that that the Cavs acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal is the franchise’s gateway to a more secure future or its gateway toward one more big playoff run this spring. Expect Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman to approach LeBron James in January about his future. If the Cavs are in a position to again legitimately challenge the Warriors, then the Cavs brass will tell LeBron that they would pull the trigger on a Cousins trade if he were to re-sign (Iman Shumpert was linked to the Pelicans this summer).
It’s highly unlikely that that will happen, because as we’ve learned over the years – LeBron loves drama and flexibility.
The Cavs brass could leak out that they approached LeBron with the above scenario and paint him as the bad guy going into the summer. Or LeBron could verbally commit to the Cavs, they could trade for Cousins, and then LeBron could bolt anyway. You think the summer of 2010 was ugly in Cleveland? How about that scenario?