Sunday night, while the All-Star Game was still going on, the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans for Buddy Heild, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a top-three protected first rounder in this year’s draft and a second rounder, presumably also in the 2017 draft. The Pelicans also get Omri Casspi. The deal is reminiscent of one Michael Scotto said was offered to the Nets for Brook Lopez.
So, does this deal diminish the trade value of Lopez? Has the market been set? Putting aside some caveats on both sides of the deal, the answer has to be yes.
According to numerous reports, from Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc Stein and Ian Eagle in particular, the Nets price for the 7-foot Brook Lopez is two first rounders. That doesn’t mean the Nets wouldn’t settle for less. It’s the starting point.
The Kings essentially got two first rounders for a three-time all-star and Olympic gold medal winner, perhaps the best center in the game right now. Hield is the Derrick Favors of this deal. The Nets traded Favors, who had been the overall No. 3, to Utah along with two other first rounders for D-Will. The big difference is that Favors was barely 19 at the time of that 2011 deal; Hield, for all his potential, is 23.
Lopez is not going to get that level of return, from everything we’re hearing. Cousins is nearly three years younger than Lopez and is averaging 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and hitting 34 percent of his three point attempts. Those are staggering numbers. And Cousins is made in the mold of the modern 5, more athletic, a better outside shooter and rim protector.
Yes, Lopez is a much better leader, a character guy among character guys, and Cousins is a train wreck in terms of culture. But you would have to assume, all things being equal, Zach Lowe and Howard Beck were probably right the other night when they quoted league types as saying the Nets are unlikely to get a first rounder, at least in this draft. Would they get a solid young player? Probably, but would that young player make up for what Lopez can bring the Nets: 20 points, five rebounds and a leadership role in the type of locker room they’re trying to rebuild.
So where does that leave the Nets if they can’t get what they see as value for Lopez? Send him on his way for lesser assets or hold on to him. Barring another injury, Lopez should be worth more at the Draft or during free agency than he does now. Teams will have had to chance to re-evaluate without the pressure of a deadline. He will be an expiring contract.
Bottom line for us is that this trade makes it more likely Lopez isn’t traded at the deadline ... or even this summer. It’s hard to imagine Marks trading Lopez for a good player and some cap space when Lopez could be the centerpiece of the rebuild next season too. No one is predicting the Nets will make a jump from worst to the playoffs.
Moreover, big men are being traded left and right this trade season. Each move means fewer landing slots for Lopez.
There is one advantage of the Sunday night deal, however. Many pundits are now suggesting that with all the ramifications of this deal, it may top the Nets-Celtics trade as the worst in recent memory. We wouldn’t go that far, but others are making the case.
So we wait. Still four days left. Who knows, this story could be made obsolete by the next tweet.
- What DeMarcus Cousins trade means for Brook Lopez - Brian Lewis - New York Post