A Potential Package
In order to persuade Divac, a combination of Turner, Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Shabazz Napier, Davis, Plumlee and first round draft pick(s) is a must. The Blazers could be able to convince the Kings to part with Cousins in a deal such as:
"Blazers receive: DeMarcus Cousins Kings receive: CJ McCollum, Shabazz Napier, Blazers 2017 first round pick (unprotected), Nets 2018 second round pick Nets receive: Meyers Leonard, Ben McLemore, Pat Connaughton"
Sacramento are the recipients of a perennial all-star in McCollum, a prospect handler in Napier, as well as two draft picks to restock the cupboard. The Kings would be swiping the slate clean in the post-Cousins era with two pieces to go with Willie Cauley-Stein and coach Dave Joerger. The expectation to receive anything more than this would be a stretch with Cousins only having one year left on his deal, while CJ has four.
The Nets are present to absorb excess salary and gain talent for a second round pick. Leonard and Ben McLemore add more shooters to their lineup while the latter presents himself as a low risk flyer. They have no reason to be ‘tanking’ as they do no own their next two first round picks, so this move would improve them. This deal can only occur on January 14th (or later) as Leonard’s trade restriction expires then.
(Note: Since McCollum has a ‘poison pill contract’, this requires his outgoing salary from the Blazers to be his current value of $3 million, whereas the incoming value that the Kings absorb will be $21.8 million. This figure represents the average value of his entire contract and this poison pill restriction will expire when his extension kicks in next season.)
On the other hand, Portland would be able to fully utilize Turner as the backup handler while also just generally having him on the ball more. It would also promote Vonleh and Layman to advanced roles where they have shown glimpses of potential to do so. This saves Paul Allen around $19 million in the luxury tax bill next season, while also receiving the best player in the trade. The Blazers would then have 3 roster spots vacant where they can bring in guys at the veterans minimum.
Portland’s Post Trade Outlook
Part of this trade would be attaining Cousins’ full bird rights where they will be in the process from day one to convince him to re-sign. The risk would be that if Cousins decides to walk after next season, the Blazers will have let McCollum go for essentially a one and a half year rental. The Blazers would then play out the season with a 9 man rotation of Cousins, Aminu, Harkless, Crabbe, Lillard as starters while Davis, Vonleh, Jake Layman and Turner come off the bench. Plumlee and Festus Ezeli are then present for insurance.
That team would cause a ruckus in the western conference and would also have an improved defense. Cousins and Davis would anchor the paint while the likes of Aminu, Harkless, Crabbe, Turner and Layman will roam the perimeter. This makes the Blazers much more versatile and ‘switchy’ on defense which can help cover for Lillard’s defensive shortcomings.
All that considered, the dynamic inside-out duo of Cousins and Lillard will shake the bones of opposition defenses. The Blazers would vault above (its current) 7th in offensive efficiency without a doubt. Cousins will become a paint presence for the Blazers immediately which currently ranks 18th in points in the paint. Shooters on the perimeter such as Lillard and Crabbe will only benefit from the attention that Cousins draws inside.
Any transaction for DeMarcus Cousins will be polarizing around the league. However, if the Blazers are able to maintain the balance off the court for their production of wins, there is no reason why Portland cannot get the best out of a Boogie Wonderland.