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LB Public Email Thread: The Boogie Cousins Edition

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We all have opinions on DeMarcus Cousins. So we decided to air them in a contentious email thread.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

So, there's a top-10 NBA player who's gettable. Like, actually, realistically gettable, or so we think.

Now, who wants him? Don't everybody jump at once, single-file line please.

Derek Bodner (Liberty Ballers Legend, Deity of Sixers Twitter)

There's just too much smoke. I don't touch him, under almost any circumstance where I'm giving up something of legitimate value, unless I can talk to dozens of people who know him, can vouch that there's nothing to all the smoke, and who I trust are actually honest and don't have an agenda, which is incredibly rare to find.

There comes a point where it's impossible that all the situations are just DeMarcus in a bad position. At some point, he needs to respond to adverse situations in a manner that doesn't pull the team apart. He seems like the kind of guy that wants to be the vocal leader who everybody on the team responds to. And that individual characteristic is great, but it seems like every time he responds, it's the wrong way to go about it. He doesn't seem to have the maturity, the willpower, or the demeanor to take on the role he wants to. And the end result is that the team does respond when he speaks, but not in the way you want.

Top 10 player in the league. Maybe top 5. But not the kind of guy I want as the strongest personality in my locker room. I'd rather try to have 2-3 top-20 players on the same page than the fractured locker room it seems DeMarcus Cousins is destined to lead.

Jake Pavorsky

I love Boogie, but I really don't know if I want him here, for a handful of reasons.

At this point, he clearly can't handle being in a environment where there's a ton of losing, and that's not really going to change in Philly for probably two years. This group of guys on the Sixers seem pretty tight knight, and an angry, sometimes pouty veteran who likes to lash out at people is a situation that could end up being really volatile.

My guess is that in any deal for Cousins, you probably have to part with Okafor and a high first round pick. I don't think that's worth it. I'm pleased with Jahlil this far, and I think his game is in a much better place than Cousins' was his rookie season.

We're also getting to the point where we need to think about conserving money, as crazy as that is. Cousins is due over $16 million next season, and $18 million in 2017-18. By then, Noel will need an extension, Embiid will need an extension if he can get on the court, and there's a chance Saric still holds out another year. That's going to be a lot of money that's tied up before this team is actually any good. By the point this team may actually have some pieces, Cousins contract would be up, and he could very easily walk if he's fed up with how slow moving everything is.

Knowing you won't even sniff an NBA Finals by the time you're 28 is a tough pill to swallow.

Kyle Neubeck

Boogie is the type of dude I love to root for from afar, but I do not really want him on this team or in this locker room, particularly because you're parting with real-deal players and/or assets if you want to get him.

I tend to downplay the "culture" stuff sometimes, but this is a case where I think it's pretty obvious that you'd be risking a whole lot betting that moving Cousins to the East (and theoretically having higher chance to succeed from a wins perspective) is enough to clear up all his red flags, which follow him back to high school.

I DO think the guy is misunderstood to an extent, and he's a great player/talent. But with how patient the team has been about this whole process, short-circuiting it for such a volatile dude seems crazy to me. I'd rather roll the dice on Okafor "getting there".

Bodner

Was not expecting this consensus (so far)

Sean O'Connor

I agree with Jake's last point about Cousins' contract being something of an impediment, though I don't think the contract is bad at all. It's a bargain. But it's too short to break the rebuild for.

If we're comparing to Houston's theft of James Harden from the coward Sam Presti (or Clay Bennett or whoever), part of the Harden pitch from Houston's end was that they were willing to give him a max contract for five years - which was what Harden wanted - but the deal gave Houston a potential (at the time) superstar for six years of his prime. Cousins is only under contract through 2017-18, and the Sixers don't have the ammo to become championship contenders AND acquire him in that time frame without a major risk of losing him. It makes much more sense for a team like Boston, who has assets to spare and surrounding talent, than it does for the Sixers.

Neubeck

I think a lot of my sentiment stems from the way things have broken the last couple years. Let's say instead of having most/all your prime talent stocked in the front court, it's more evenly distributed. I'm more confident in pulling the trigger if I think Cousins comes here to a team that can supplement him better. Post trade, I think this roster would be way too light relative to the risk you run by uplifting him from one losing team to another.

Pavorsky

I'm not totally convinced he's a guy you can win with as the focal point of your team, either. Like I'd obviously entertain trading for a guy like Paul George than a Cousins, although the price for George is definitely higher.

Share

I think the Sixers would be more than lucky if Okafor ever becomes the force Cousins is, to be honest. This guy is an all-world scorer, defensive rebounder and physical force. Jah's only 19, but a whole lot of things have to go right times a million for him to ever have the two-way effect Boogie has on a basketball game.

His contract is a heist and a half too. Expiring in 2018 is the primary concern, but I don't see a reason why Saric, Noel and Covington (assuming they aren't part of any deal) plus Cousins and a couple of high draft picks couldn't be legitimately competitive in the East two years from now. The program certainly isn't there yet, and you do risk short-circuiting the development of guys like Grant, but I really can't get over how often opportunities to acquire players this talented come along.

Harden's contract was the primary dynamic that led to that deal, but I don't think anyone was kidding themselves into thinking he was a top-5 NBA player at the time. We know Cousins is this good already. The attitude stuff scares the hell out of me, but no more or less than a continuously shattering navicular bone does. I understand you're investing a whole lot more in a package for a stud like Cousins than you are in a high draft pick (every draft pick is a risk), but I think I roll the dice. I don't know, maybe I'm numb to risk at this point. Clearly I'm in the minority here.

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Also, are we sure the Kings won't just throw Boogie in as an afterthought/sweetener to dump Kosta Koufos's contract at the deadline? Could probably finagle a 2020 first-rounder and WCS out of that, too.

Bodner

"I think the Sixers would be more than lucky if Okafor ever becomes the force Cousins is, to be honest."

I don't think anybody disputes this.

Share

Was responding to Pavorsky saying his game is in a better place than DMC's was his rookie year (might have misinterpreted what his overarching point was)

Bodner

Ah. I missed that. Carry on.

Pavorsky

My point was basically that I think Okafor is in a good place right now, will improve his defense and rebounding as time goes on. Trying to move him at this point for Cousins would be trying to speed up the rebuild without actually getting us to a better place.

Share

If you're trading for Al Jefferson, sure. But I don't buy that trading for a top-10 player is disastrously short-circuiting this whole thing. The attitude stuff gives me a solid amount of pause, but I mean, does dealing Jerami Grant for Paul George do the same thing we're saying here? Because Paul George with no supporting cast in the short-term is probably the same type of on-court product we're talking about here. And there's a chance they're both FAs come 2018, although it's obviously early for that (George has a player option for 2018-19).

Michael Baumann

That's sort of where I'm at too, Jake. I love Boogie and I think the attitude issues at the very least could be managed. But making a trade for him would be a huge move, and one that I'm not sure really gets the Sixers that much farther down the line. It's not like they're crying out for a post player who's at his best in the halfcourt offense right now. I used to be a stalwart trade-for-Boogie guy, but I've been talked out of it as more of the Sixers' pieces have come together of late.

Baumann

I don't think it'd disastrously short-circuit the whole thing either. Though if we're going full-on reductio ad absurdum, I want to state, for the record, that I would feel comfortable with the Sixers trading Jerami Grant for Paul George.

Pavorsky

I wish Jerami Grant had legitimate value to other NBA teams, but that's a conversation for a different thread.

Roy Burton

Before we continue, can we come to a consensus on what would be a reasonable package for Cousins? If Okafor had to be included in any trade, then I might be inclined to say that the deal isn't worth doing. However, if the Sixers could get Cousins for Noel and a couple of first rounders, then that changes things quite a bit.

Pavorsky

If we have to give up Noel AND picks, I don't know how worth it it really is. Losing him hurts worse than Okafor.

Share

Yeah, I'd be way less inclined to go forward with any deal if Noel is involved. What we've seen from him this year has me giddy about his learning curve.

Sohil Doshi

Without really reading the thread thus far, it's like finally getting to play GoldenEye, except you HAVE to play the "Caves" level and the weapon of choice is Proximity Mines. Yeah it's fun/interesting, but there's a high chance of things blowing up in your face since there is a small margin for error.

Probably not the best metaphor, but we know how much of a talent Cousins is. But he's had red flags all the way up and while it probably gets overstated, there's no question that there is some volatility that comes with him. He requires a good/stable coach that can handle personalities and one that caters a game plan around his talent. However, if I were a team that had the assets to give AND still have talent to build around Boogie, I'd do it (Hello, Boston). For the Sixers, I don't think it makes much sense because they'd be trading from/for a position of strength* (either one of Noel or Okafor would have to be traded) and they'd be switching gears pretty quickly without the right personnel.

*With Noel, Okafor and eventually/hopefully Embiid.

Jake Fischer

Of all three big men currently under contract with the Sixers (so just excluding Saric), Nerlens Noel most likely has the greatest potential mailability of the the crop. Ideally, a healthy Joel Embiid could play both front court positions offensively, but not even he — and especially Jahlil Okafor—provides the defensive flexibility Noel does for Brett Brown. I think that's truly Noel's greatest defensive value. Yes, his shot-blocking is tremendous. Yes, his ability to blow up pick-and-rolls and switch onto guards on the perimeter is insane. What truly makes him a potentially generational defensive talent, though, is that ridiculously rare combination plus the ridiculous likelihood he hasn't even scratched the surface of his defensive versatility and potential.

That's why dealing Noel in any "Harden Trade" type scenario would be really hard to support. He's — and I believe we all are as well — targeting two-way dynamos that will ultimately suck the hopes and dreams out of opposing fans. That's why I'm truly rooting for Okafor to dominate this season and continue to pirouette around defenders on the block. If he's an offensively overwhelming beast in the paint, that's terrific for this team on the court. But it also increases Hinkie's options in dealing for a star and/or building this team around the cornerstones he drafts and I'd be able to stomach trading Okafor a lot quicker than Noel or Embiid.

And even still, I don't trade Okafor for Cousins. At least not now. If there was more of a winning structure in place, I'd be all for it. But Cousins told Yahoo! Sports in his statement all his frustration has derived from losing. I've texted with multiple Kings teammates who agreed. If he's winning, Boogie is incredible to be around. But loses make him volatile. That's something Philly can't afford to deal with right now.

Pavorsky

(think we can wrap here)

Matt Carey

A lot of you guys have already covered my concerns. On talent alone, Cousins is a no doubter. He's probably the best center in the league. I just would not want to build a franchise around him. I've seen nothing to suggest that he's the type of star that other stars want to play with, or that he's a star that young players (which, after all, is all the Sixers have) can reach their potential playing around.

I'm skeptical of the idea that once Cousins gets out of the Sacramento tire fire, he's going to be a changed man. This was the knock on him coming out of high school and coming out of college, and we're in year six now, with very little to suggest he's simply young and growing out of it.

For another team, Cousins makes a lot of sense. For a team that already has a star in place and needs that extra piece to put them over the top, Cousins is THE piece.

One thing I do have a problem with is the "well, what are the odds a top pick is going to be better than Cousins" argument, because it kinda misses the point. I don't think there's anybody who, on talent alone, wouldn't trade multiple picks for Cousins. On talent alone, he's exactly the piece you empty the bank vault out for. Of course it's unlikely that a pick is going to turn out to be a top 10 talent in the league. It misses the point of why anyone would argue against Cousins -- it's too risky.

The reason I advocate draft building so strongly is just for this reason -- when a star player becomes available, there's almost always a major red flag as to why they're available. Part of the reason I've pushed for Paul George is that his red flag appears to be totally correctable, if it's even a red flag anymore.

Even if the trade was Okafor and a high pick (which I think is an at-best scenario), that's still pushing your biggest money chips into the center of the table, and I'm just not comfortable betting my franchise on DeMarcus Cousins.

NOW WE CAN WRAP JAKE