Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook’s saga with Kevin Durant monopolized the narrative of All Star Weekend 2017. However, immediately following the mid-season classic, an abrupt deal to solidify a floundering New Orleans Pelicans roster stole the show.
As reported late Sunday night by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, OKC conference rival New Orleans acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. This blockbuster deal comes as a shocking revelation to league insiders —many of whom expected Cousins to ink a historic off-season extension to remain with Sacramento.
Now, Cousins, 26, will stand alongside newly-crowned All-Star MVP Anthony Davis (All-Star record 52 pts) to comprise the NBA’s most prolific front-court duo.
In return for the mercurial All-NBA center, Sacramento receives rookie-standout Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and the Pelicans’ upcoming first and second-round draft picks. The 17’ first-round draft selection is top-three protected.
Now, as 25 games remain, eleventh-seeded (23-34) New Orleans is set to make a run for lower-tier playoff positioning in the west. Meanwhile, #9 Sacramento (24-33) will no doubt battle to maintain a respectable record to ensure a cash in on their recently acquired first-round pick.
Sources state that New Orleans feels confident in its ability to re-sign Cousins —who becomes an UFA following the 17-18 season. Both Cousins and Davis played with NCAA juggernaut Kentucky. This trade is final pending league approval.
Sacramento has agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, league source tells @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 20, 2017
- Moving along from that juicy item: Oklahoma City’s own (no pun intended) Russell Westbrook scored 41 points in 20 minutes of action during Sunday’s All Star exhibition. “Mr. Triple Double” warmed up alone —before being joined by former teammate James Harden— but played nice with the Warriors’ celebrated quartet.
Though, in fairness, Russ did spend just 82 seconds of on-court time with his headline-making dance partner, Kevin Durant.
Westbrook and Durant were on the floor together for a total of 82 seconds tonight.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 20, 2017
- Davis dazzles: While Anthony Davis delighted New Orleans fans by winning MVP honors, “The Brow” also played 12 more minutes, and attempted 13 more shots than two-time All-Star MVP Westbrook. Conspiracy? Nah, just Kerr giving the now seriously-flanked hometown hero his chance at the record books.
DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are reunited again. pic.twitter.com/z6CXgEqQB8— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) February 20, 2017
- Enes Kanter update: All reports suggest that Kanter is progressing well following late-Jan. surgery to repair his broken right forearm. This could mean a mid-March return for Oklahoma City’s top scoring reserve (14.4 ppg, 6.7 reb, 56.3 FG%, 21.6 mins). The Thunder (32-25 #7 West) is 4-6 since Kanter suffered injury on Jan. 26.
- Fresh from the rumor mill: Oklahoma City is reportedly one of the teams which hold a strong interest in Denver’s Wilson Chandler. Woj again chimed in, stating the following:
"Oklahoma City had been very much in pursuit of Rudy Gay before his season-ending injury. They'd love to get a 4-man, a versatile forward, as would the Clippers. Both teams think that kind of a player maybe gets them over the hump in a first-round series."
Chandler (15.6 ppg, 6.7 reb, 33.8% 3PM) certainly fits that bill. However, Wojnarowski openly questioned whether OKC has the available assets to entice Denver into moving their disillusioned swing man.
The NBA’s trade deadline is Thursday, February 23. Oklahoma City currently resides among several teams eyeing pieces to enhance their playoff stock.