Pistons Should Be Courageous With Cousins.

I’m writing this under the assumption you’re aware of two key factors regarding Demarcus Cousins: He’s a monumental tempermental shithead and he’s one of the top five most gifted power big guys in the NBA. Since he plays for the Sacramento Kings, a team that hasn’t been competitive or relevant in the Association since the beginning part of the previous decade (Divac, Webber, Bibby & Peja vs. the Lakers), I won’t fault for you wondering which black hole, in which galaxy Demarcus Cousins had fallen into after he left Kentucky after his freshmen year. If you knew just a little about Cousins, it’s also not unreasonable for you to think that his petulent attitude got him excommunicated from the league.

For some background on his behavior just this year, Cousins had a confrontation with former Spur, turned (their) analyst Sean Elliot.

Just last week Cousins cursed out his coach and was suspended by the team.

Regardless of his immense talent, because of his juvenile attitude, Cousins’ name has always been bandied about in trade rumors. Perhaps I’m overreacting to the latest set of them, but it feels like Cousins and the Kings (who, organizationally, are nearly as dysfunctional as their on court employees) have reached a breaking point in the their tumultuous relationship.

From Marc Stein’s ESPN column

There’s a growing sense among potential suitors that under-fire Kings general manager Geoff Petrie, who has overseen zero trips to the playoffs under five coaches in the six-plus seasons since Rick Adelman left town, would be willing to move Cousins, preferably in exchange for a dependable veteran of quality or two who could bring some instant improvement to a franchise stuck in lottery land and still plagued by an uncertain future in terms of where this team will be calling home in the long term.

And more…

Front-office sources say that Boston and Detroit, just to name two teams, have let it be known that they are highly interested if and when Cousins does become available. Rest assured there will be more.

Oh. Really. This isn’t the first time, well after the ’10 draft, that Cousins’ name has been linked to the Pistons. The first few times I scoffed at it, but not so much this time. This time I was like, ‘what the hell, let’s screw around with the NBA trade machine,’ which we’ll get to in a moment. While Sacremento is in organizational disarray (that’s fancy for clusterfuck), I’m also wary of the Pistons having the proper, stable environment from ownership, down to the coaches and players to corral Cousins’ enigmatic ways and turn him into a more reputable NBA citizen and ultimately match an All Star berth to his talent. Now that I think of it, Cousins talent and troubled ways could mimic the path of former Jail Blazer Zach Randolph. Cousins would’ve seemlessly melded into those miscreant Portland teams. Good God, he’s got some Rasheed Wallace in his DNA as well. With proper guidance and the desire to recalibrate the attitude, Cousins can also transform as Randolph did, or at least tone it down as Wallace did. Randolph, an All Star just once, as a Grizzlie, rather quietly has very ably averaged 17 and 9 with quality shooting percentages (47 FG, 77 FT) over an 11 year career.

All that said, I still wouldn’t want Cousins in Detroit. Unless…

I’m about to pour gasoline on myself and start sparking matches, but in the NBA to relocate from the lottery to the top four of the playoffs you cannot be averse to risk.

Think, what do the Pistons lack?

OK, funny guy, ‘GOOD PLAYERS’ was not the answer I wanted. They need a ruthless, give-me-the-damn-ball wing scorer. I wrote about this in early November when some suggested Memphis may want to shake some cash off the payroll if they couldn’t improve upon last year, and Rudy Gay could be one of those financial casualties.

If the Pistons want Cousins – yes, his draft classmate Monroe will have to go (I’d keep Drummond) – they should get his perplexing teammate, Tyreke Evans, in the swap as well.

The Pistons trade bait wouldn’t get the Kings into the playoffs, but the pieces they could provide are a few endearing personalities to move forward with (for when they move to Va. Beach or wherever).

Because there’s no untradeable mega contracts involved a deal wouldn’t be painfully complex, and there’s a variety of ways to bring Evans and Cousins to Detroit, depending on what the Kings desired outside of Monroe.

He may be redundant to John Salmons and Marcus Thornton, but if the Kings want Rodney Stuckey and Monroe, they got it! See, it works.

Cousins and Evans don’t have long deals and Jason Maxiell, Corey Maggette, Austin Daye, and Will Bynum have deals that expire this coming June. So if Evans doesn’t prove to be a cold blooded scoring assassin, it’s possible the Pistons could hit the reset button in the not-too-distant future.

I still have my doubts about the Pistons culture, and under Lawrence Frank and Joe Dumars, Cousins and Evans could be the same problematic malcontents they are now in Sacramento, and Detroit could wind up with yet another player-led coup d’etat on management. Oh wouldn’t THAT be fun!

Like I said though, in the NBA if you wanna – forgive such elementary language – GET GOOD, you can’t be bashful at the high rolling NBA transaction table.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only skeptic when it comes to Brandon Knight’s long term outlook as a lead guard, but to give him the benefit of the doubt, he’s still just 21. Inconsistencies are to be a expected. To a point with him.

I’m intrigued by a rotation that looks like this after my masterful swap:


Key bench contributors: Maxiell, Daye, CV, Bynum, Singler

Barring an eruption from Mt. Cousins, hold on because this may sound preposterous, but in the East, that’s a team that possibly sneaks into the back of the playoffs. It would certainly be more enjoyable than the dreck the Pistons send out their now. In the NBA if you’re going suck, at least be an exciting style of suck. Right now, the only player you’d pay to watch (or accept free tix and paid parking) on the Pistons is 19, plays less than 25 minutes a night and has an offensive repertoire that’s limited to what degree of ferocity he’ll dunk with.

More on the risk factors from a preseason scout’s look at the Kings.

Cousins has all the tools. It’s amazing to see the talent he has — along with the lack of discipline he shows. It’s like he always knows better, even though he takes a lot of bad shots. He yells at the referees and doesn’t get back on defense. Look, everybody makes those mistakes sometimes, but Cousins seems to do it regularly. He looks as if he has very little control of his temper. It is sad. Whether he’s yelling at a ref or dunking on somebody and pounding his chest, he always looks like he’s miserable.

Detroiters are experienced in this type of behavior thanks to the recent assheadedness of Titus Young.

Evans has no clue how to play. He needs to be moved out of that organization. It has been a disaster because they didn’t know where to play him, which is not necessarily their fault — although we may look back and recognize that it was their fault. They tried him at the point, then at the 2, then the 3; he has never known what he was trying to be, and it has been too much on him. I definitely don’t think he’s a point guard. Maybe in the end he’s just one of those guys who doesn’t have a position and nobody knows what he really is. The only sure thing is that he needs to be in a new system away from that whole environment.

He’s not a great shooter and he’s not a great passer. He’s a guy who has played point guard most of his life, but he was a scoring point guard who was so strong that he overpowered guys. He was never really a point guard who can help you win. Maybe his best spot in the end is going to be as a sixth man, your third guard. There’s nothing wrong with that — Kevin McHale and Manu Ginobili were sixth men. He might be a Jamal Crawford type of sixth man. He’s obviously got some tools because of his size and strength and what he’s able to do with the ball at his size. But what does it tell you about Sacramento that after three years in the NBA he still doesn’t know what to do with his talent?

I’ll take the risk with Evans by leaving him at one position and saying, ‘here boy, go shoot.’

I can assure you this, the Pistons are not going to substantially improve by organically letting their young players evolve paired with lucking into one more elite college talent in the lottery. They need to be brazen. They need to risk another mutiny. They need to play with a match around gasoline and hope the match either doesn’t light or the proper authorities are nearby to hose them down.

Acquiring Cousins and Evans is just that. It could be artfully successful and get the Pistons back on the NBA map or it could be idiotic, but who cares, no one goes to the Palace anyway unless Lebron’s in town.


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