Now that the All-Star weekend is behind us, it’s time to focus on trades. The stars of the moment, the Sacramento Kings, aren’t done dealing their veteran players: Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo and Ben McLemore are all on the trading block, with the Kings looking to tank the rest of the season and stock up on draft picks and/or rookie deals. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics are smelling blood in the water, which is why they’re high on going after Paul George or Jimmy Butler, trying to make the most of their draft picks war chest.
Vlade Divac is defending the trade that sent Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, talking about culture. Basically, trying to understand the reasoning, the Kings realized they won’t be able to win with Cousins. Not just because of his ability, but because of his behavior and attitude. Finishing 9th in the West wasn’t going to help them with the conditional first round draft pick, so they decided it’s time to blow it all up and they’re going full throttle with this concept. They’re saying Collison, for example, isn’t up for trade, but they’ve been saying the same thing about Cousins all season.
When the dust settles, the Kings might be with the worst team in the league instead of a playoff contender. But with the franchise going backwards after a decade without playoff basketball, you once again wonder whether the people running it have any idea on how to get into the postseason, and unless they somehow luck out in the draft and in other deals, there’s no way they should be the people trying to steer the Kings back into relevance.
The Celtics bounced back quickly into relevance after one year (2013-2014) of tanking. Now they’re going after being contenders with all they have. After taking over 2nd place in the East, they sense the Cavaliers might be vulnerable in the postseason. The fact that they didn’t go for Cousins but are thinking about adding Small Forwards makes me think that they aren’t just about getting better, but thinking about how they can compete with the Cavaliers and Warriors specifically.
Whatever their vision is (a championship is involved I guess), it involves adding another All-Star. Butler has been on the trading block for almost two seasons, and with this season looking like a first round exit at best, maybe Chicago are finally hitting the reset button they should have pushed a bit earlier. What does it mean about the future of their front office? Hard to tell. A lot of murkiness surrounding this team, and we’ll be wiser once the deadline is behind us.
The same goes for the Pacers. Trading George sounded like blasphemy not too long ago. However, their 29-28 record this season suggests that a lot of the decisions Larry Bird made in the offseason might not have been strokes of genius. George is a solid player to build around, but maybe not for a championship, and maybe not in the current system. Both players would make the Celtics borderline favorites in the East (of course depending on how much depth they give up for it). It’s interesting to see the two busiest team leading up to the deadline operating with opposite intentions in mind.