The Detroit Pistons look for their third straight win tonight and their first of the season against DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings. The last time these teams met, Greg Monroe broke a franchise assist record and tallied the first Pistons triple double since Chauncey Billups in 2004. Tonight, however, expect the talk to shift to trade rumors, as the Pistons are reportedly interested in acquiring Cousins, the taller, fatter version of Allen Iverson from Sacramento.
Has the whole world gone crazy?
Game Tips at 7:30p.m. EST
Sacramento Kings: 11 - 19 (1 - 12 road)
Detroit Pistons: 11 - 22 (8 - 8 home)
We interrupt your normally scheduled game analysis to talk through the Pistons perverse trade interest in DeMarcus Cousins. Let's start by analyzing the negatives of trading for Cousins, herein referred to as TFI (taller, fatter Iverson) for brevity:
1. If trading for TFI would involve sending out either Andre Drummond or Greg Monroe, the Pistons would be giving away a better player for a worse player in return. Pick your advanced metric of choice, or just look at the hard averages. Going on three years in the league, TFI is shooting 43.5% from the field and less than 41% this season. That's the second worst amongst starting centers and third worst amongst starting big men overall. Add to that the turnover and foul troubles, and TFI largely presents a net loss whenever he's on court.
There's also a false assumption that TFI could present a better fit by replacing Monroe next to Drummond. Even with Greg Monroe's shooting struggles to start this season, he's shown a more efficient jump shot compared to TFI from nearly anywhere outside the painted area. On defense, Monroe is amongst the league leaders in pick-and-roll and spot up defense, two areas where he'll be extensively used against power forwards in the paint and at the perimeter. The data shows that Monroe has better range and more defensive flexibility than TFI, making Greg a better fit at power forward next to Drummond.
2. If trading for TFI could be done without shipping out Drummond or Monroe, a move like this could bring unnecessary chemistry risks the team doesn't need. Presently, TFI leads the Kings in shot attempts and is second in minutes played. If the Pistons do plan on pursuing their promising frontcourt of the future in Drummond and Monroe, that would suggest a demotion to the bench for TFI.
How would TFI, who is known for psychological headaches and locker room infighting, handle this demotion? Is there any reasonable expectation that TFI would buck his own established trend and suddenly swallow his pride? If there is even a nominal risk here, could a team-in-transition like the Pistons handle this sort of trouble in their locker room? Detroit currently has two high-character, level-headed big men who defer to their coach and produce on court. TFI has never done either in the NBA, and it would be foolish to expect him to change.
3. Then there's the financial risk. When Greg Monroe is due for his first extension, Cousins will be too. This team cannot afford two near-max or higher contracts to two similar big men at once. The team would lose salary flexibility to bring in players to support this frontcourt. If the team acquires TFI without moving Monroe or Drummond, it'd then likely be paying three near-max contracts within two years of each other.
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Those are the three primary negatives: that TFI has been a worse NBA player than Drummond or Monroe, that he brings chemistry issues that could be exacerbated with a demotion, and that the Pistons can't afford a near-max extension for TFI along with its other commitments.
What are the positives for acquiring TFI? There's only one: hope. Hope that his chemistry issues will subside with a change of scenery. Hope that his shooting woes will end. Hope that he can fulfill that pre-draft potential in the face of the pre-draft flags that have waved violently ever since. The problem is that the Pistons are not even two years away from losing a coach after a locker room mutiny. And for TFI to reverse his shooting problems even to the average for his position would be one of the more remarkable improvements in recent history.
DeMarcus Cousins hasn't shown a shred of hope that he will mature any time soon. He hasn't shown a shred of hope that he can be an efficient offensive player either. He is what he is, and he is something the Pistons do not need. He brings more risk than value, with the former being a safe bet and the latter being long odds.
Do not trade for DeMarcus Cousins, Detroit. Embrace what you have in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, a duo that could be an elite frontcourt pairing this franchise hasn't seen in a decade.
Keys to the Game:
Keep Petrie Away from Dumars: Petrie might need a hail mary to save his job, and Dumars hasn't executed a winning trade in almost seven years. It might be a good idea to deactivate Andre Drummond for the night and just have him defend Dumars and swat everything Petrie sends his way.
Break Joe's Phones: Both of them.
Buy Danny Ainge and Geoff Petrie a trip for two to Paris: Get Petrie's sizes and order some nice lingerie from Frederick's of Hollywood.
Question of the Game:
Can we move on and let someone else trade for Cousins, please? Hopefully Boston?
(TFI trademark used with permission from PS - Agence France Presse)