After the shocking trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, what could the Utah Jazz stand to gain in the aftermath of that transaction?
Although it was great for Utah Jazz fans to see their star Gordon Hayward participate in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, the slow and uncompetitive event was largely overshadowed by the news that took place shortly after the game’s conclusion.
DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Not only did the Pelicans manage to add one of the best big men in the league, they did it by surrendering very little of comparative value. In exchange for the service of a player that’s currently considered by most as a top-10 player in the NBA, the Pelicans simply parted with rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder. The Kings also included Omri Casspi as part of the deal.
The fact that New Orleans added an All-NBA caliber player who could very well end up being the best player on their team (we’ll see who does better, he or Anthony Davis) without giving up either of their two current best players is, as Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune simply put, the theft of the century.
Of course the reaction to the trade on Twitter was expectedly outrageous as no one can really figure out what the Kings are thinking. Some have speculated that something that has yet to come to light happened behind the scenes that forced the Kings’ hands. Others think they’re gearing up to make yet another big move with another team involved. And many just think they’re flat out nuts.
Personally, I tend to think the latter is the case.
Needless to say, the sports world is currently shocked. All you have to do is search “DeMarcus Cousins” on Twitter and you’ll see your screen nearly explode with people freaking out, mocking the Kings, trying to make sense of it all and just about everything in between.
But while a frontcourt duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will undoubtedly be exciting to behold, the Pelicans will still be in for quite a battle to even qualify for the playoffs, let alone make any noise in the postseason. New Orleans is currently 2.5 games behind the eighth place Nuggets with 25 games left to play.
Not to mention, they have a brutal stretch of games coming up right after the break as they’ll face the Rockets (twice), Thunder, Pistons, Spurs, Jazz and Raptors all over the course of their next 12 games. That 12-game stretch could very well determine whether they still have any hope of making the playoffs or not.
Then even if they do make the playoffs, will a frontcourt of Boogie and the Brow be enough to push the Pels past the Warriors and into the second round? Probably not.
So instead of spending more time on this outlandish trade and where it now puts the New Orleans Pelicans, let’s focus instead on what it could potentially mean for the Utah Jazz. Sometimes the best part about a blockbuster trade like this isn’t necessarily the original trade itself, but rather the shockwaves that it spreads throughout the league suddenly causing other teams to make deals that wouldn’t have been possible before.
Now that New Orleans and Sacramento have made these major team-altering moves, it’s quite clear that both are looking to make further deals. With this being the case, there are a pair of players that would be great fits for the Utah Jazz that I’d like to see them pursue in a trade.
For weeks now, I’ve pinned Darren Collison as a guy the Jazz should keep an eye on in a potential trade. He’s a solid, no-nonsense point guard who can run an offense very well and is shooting the lights out this season at 48.1 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from deep.
Although he’s been loosely mentioned in trade rumors already, now that the Cousins to NOLA trade has gone down, the Kings have been practically screaming that Collison is available and that they are looking to move him.
The Kings have reportedly made Arron Afflalo and Ben McLemore available as well, which makes you wonder what’s going to be left of that roster in Sacramento once the dust settles. Given Utah’s need for a more reliable backup point guard, however, Collison would undoubtedly be the best fit.
Although, the narrative among many in Jazz Nation has changed lately from “the Utah Jazz need backup point guard help” to “Dante Exum is playing better so let’s just give him a chance”, personally, I still think adding a guy like Collison would work wonders for this Jazz team to help them make an additional playoff push.
Exum has indeed played better of late, but he hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to prove that he has any hope of doing so when the stakes are highest.
Without George Hill on the floor, Utah’s point guard situation has been bleak at best. Given the fact that Collison is a free agent at the end of this season, his acquisition would give both him and the Jazz time to evaluate how he fits in as a backup point guard, then if Utah decided to continue on the Dante Exum train for the 2017-18 season, they could do so easily by simply allowing Collison to walk.
It’s a low-risk, high-reward type situation that the Jazz most certainly should explore. Utah managed to turn a second-round pick into Shelvin Mack last season, so hopefully they can work some even better magic to get a much more proficient player than Mack on their roster this time around by acquiring Darren Collison.
Meanwhile, New Orleans is also looking to blow things up quite significantly now that they’ve brought in DeMarcus Cousins to play alongside superstar Anthony Davis. With this duo of behemoths in the frontcourt, the Pels have reportedly found power forward Terrence Jones rather expendable and have already begun to shop him.
It was a decision that was mutual by both the player and the team and given that Jones would find himself with little playing time in a frontcourt that stacked, it simply makes sense.
And while backup point guard has been a pressing need for the Utah Jazz, their power forward position has been notoriously weak this season as well. After enjoying a breakout season last year, Derrick Favors has been bogged down by an onslaught of knee injuries and simply hasn’t produced as well as was expected.
Meanwhile, Boris Diaw and Trey Lyles have both underperformed in terms of shooting, playmaking and defense, so it’s left a gaping hole in Utah’s second unit, especially when the reserves play without the help of Rudy Gobert.
Adding a solid player like Terrence Jones could very well help patch that hole. Jones is averaging 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season and while those aren’t exactly overwhelming numbers, he also brings several intangibles to the game such as effort, hustle and a hard-nosed defense that could potentially add some spark for Utah off the bench.
In my recent look at the top trade target for the Jazz among all 30 NBA teams, I was hesitant to include Jones due to concerns about his personality clashing with that of Utah’s current roster given some of his previous issues. However, setting that aside and focusing solely on what he’d bring in a basketball aspect, I believe Jones could provide an edge and a nice lift to the power forward position.
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So with three whole days remaining before the trade deadline, we may have already witnessed the wackiest trade of the season. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what teams still have in store and particularly what will be the aftermath of this shocking Cousins to New Orleans trade.
The tight-lipped Jazz remain quiet on the trade front for the moment and it remains to be seen whether they’ll make a move for either of the guys I’ve mentioned that have just become available or for any other players across the league.
However, one thing is certain, if the Jazz decide to stand pat at the trade deadline, it surely won’t be due to a lack of opportunity.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com