The DeMarcus Cousins trade should bring positives to both the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans. But here are three reasons why the San Antonio Spurs are the real winners.
Sunday evening, the Sacramento Kings finalized a trade that sent All-Star Center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.
While everyone is talking about how this move affects the Kings, Pelicans and Golden State Warriors, it could also hold key outcomes for the San Antonio Spurs.
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First Round Matchup:
There is a slight chance the Spurs and Pelicans could meet in the first round of the playoffs in a 1 vs 8 matchup (though San Antonio currently trails the Warriors by four games in the standings). In this series we’d see a lot of two-big lineups featuring Cousins and Anthony Davis vs. LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.
While New Orleans has more talent in this head-to-head, it could actually play to the Spurs’ advantage. If you watch the games or go to Basketball-Reference, you’ll see San Antonio almost never goes to a small-ball lineup and seems to always have two traditional big men on the court.
The team is built for this kind of matchup. And even though this series would put a hurtin’ on their bigs moving further into the playoffs, the team has enough depth to go to their bench in the next few rounds.
The more likely scenario is that the Warriors will take the 1-seed, meaning they will face the Pelicans should New Orleans make the playoffs. And while this is not so good news for the Pelicans, it actually works out great for the Spurs.
The things that make the Spurs well equipped for a matchup with Cousins and Davis are the only two things Golden State does not have going for them: big men and depth. Cousins is going to put a pounding on the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Javale McGee, and Anthony Davis will make Draymond Green work harder than he’s ever had to in a first round series.
When the Warriors go to their “Death Lineup,” either Kevin Durant or Andre Igoudala have to guard Davis. Asking either to do this for extended minutes for at least four games is a lot for their bodies to handle.
After that sort of matchup in the opening round, the Warriors could be drained physically. This would allow Aldridge, Gasol and Kawhi Leonard to get a lot of looks at the rim in a potential series against Golden State down the line. If the Pelicans were to secure the eighth seed, look for coach Gregg Popovich to rest his starters to ensure they’re 100 percent after the Warriors take a beating in round one.
In a previous article I mentioned the Spurs should look into signing Cousins during his free agency. Pairing him with Leonard puts the team in position to dominate over the next decade. Cousins had been very vocal about wanting to stay in Sacramento because of his love for the city. Cousins also won’t sign an extension this summer after being traded, making him a free agent in 2018.
This would force the Spurs to make some moves this summer. With any luck (should they go for Boogie) Gasol will opt out and look elsewhere for a long-term deal. Otherwise the team would need to move Aldridge or Danny Green.
Some may be hesitant to bring the All-Star center into their locker room due to his history. But a team like the Spurs could be just what he needs to turn it around. I imagine a brief sit-down between Cousins and Pop would let the coach know all he needs to decide.
There is no question this trade has changed a few things in the league in the short-term, and it definitely will mix it up in the long-term. But in both instances, those changes could spell success for the Spurs.