A Return to the Twin Towers

If you haven’t quite woken up yet after an All-Star Weekend that had all the excitement of a night on ketamine, then you may have missed the news that the New Orleans Pelicans have paired up a 27.8ppg 10.7rpg 4.9apg 1.4spg 1.3bpg 26.6 PER guy (DaMarcus Cousins) with their existing 27.7ppg 12.0rpg 2.2apg 1.3spg 2.5bpg 27.3 PER guy (Anthony Davis). In the process they are also presenting the proverbial middle finger right in the face of the NBA’s current pace and space small ball revolution with a throwback to the ‘Twin Towers’ philosophy of yesteryear.

How did they do it? By doing this:

New Orleans traded Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick to Sacramento for DaMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi.

Now I can’t help but think that this trade eventuated after a few team GM’s got together on Sunday night, had a few drinks, then decided it would be hilarious to prank call Vlade Divac with the worst possible trade offers for Cousins: “Hey Vlade, it’s Danny Ainge. I’ll give you Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and a bag of Funions for Boogie.” *snickering* “Hey Vlade, It’s Ernie Grunfeld. I’ll give you Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky and a 10-pack of chicken nuggets for DaMarcus.” *louder snickering* “Wait, wait guys give me the phone! Hello Vlade? It’s Dell Demps, how about Hield, Evans, Galloway and a couple of draft picks?” *hysterical laughter*

The tradition of the ‘Twin Towers’ is a proud one. The Olajuwon & Sampson (Houston 1984-87, 1986 NBA Finals appearance), Duncan & Robinson (San Antonio 1997-03, 2 x Championships) and Gasol & Bynum (LA Lakers 2008-12, 2 x Championships) combos are the benchmark of the tradition, although Atlanta’s 1985-88 combo of Tree Rollins and Jon Koncak is, unsurprisingly, rarely mentioned.

How will Davis and Cousins co-exist? What’s the outlook for both teams? Let’s have a look:

Sacramento – After 7 years of technical fouls, immaturity and disappointment there is no question that the Kings made the right decision to make a clean break and go full rebuild, however surely there had to be a better deal on offer? If not, why not wait until the deadline? Why pull the trigger with 4 days of wheeling and dealing still to go? We may never get the answers to those questions, so let’s concentrate on what the Kings did get:

According to reports Kings owner Vivek Ranadive loves Hield so much he thinks he could be the next Steph Curry. As a 23 year old rookie averaging 8.6 points on 39.2% shooting and a 9.9 PER he’s a long way from being anywhere near Steph-level. You have to feel sorry for the kid, he has a chance to develop into an above average NBA player except Sacramento has an abysmal record of developing talent, just ask Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore, Thomas Robinson and Tyreke Evans.

Speaking of Tyreke, how the hell has he ended up back in Sacramento? After a strong 2009-10 rookie season the Kings slowly crushed him like a paper cup over the next 3 seasons before shipping him to New Orleans for the huge bounty of….Greivis Vasquez. Have they brought him back just to finally finish him off?

Langston Galloway? Well if the Kings were after a guy to shoot 3-8 off the bench every night while contributing little else then they got their man. Don’t be surprised to see him released over the next few days.

They at least picked up the Pelicans first round pick in this years draft (top-3 protected) and right now own picks 9 and 11 in an allegedly loaded draft class – it takes away some of the sting of not being able to completely tank the rest of this season as Philadelphia has the option of swapping draft picks (Sam Hinkie just keeps on giving). If they thought this through, and we should be under no illusions that they did, they also freed up playing time for their young “talent” Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis to see if any can be competent NBA players. If that’s the best thing we can say about this deal for Sacramento then they whiffed on this trade. Big time.

New Orleans – Well played Mr Demps, well played. The Pelicans needed to surround Davis with talent before he became pre-2008 Kevin Garnett – the biggest tragedy would have been watching him waste away year after year on below average teams while the basketball world pondered what might have been. They now have arguably the two best big men in the game today and a chance at greatness.

Is it a risk? Of course it is, every success story involves risk at some stage. We’re already hearing questions on if they can play together, with the big man almost completely redundant in today’s NBA. But we aren’t talking about Kwame Brown & Hasheem Thabeet here, we’re talking about two extremely versatile players. Both of them can consistently hit an 18 foot jumper, Cousins is actually shooting 35.4% from three and has more 3-point field goals than Buddy Hield this season. Both can handle the ball, lead the break and go coast-to-coast after grabbing a defensive board, hit the open shooters from a double team and create their own shots anytime they like. They are 23 and 26 years old, playing together shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s also the risk of Cousins’ well publicised on-court blow-ups and general head case antics continuing in New Orleans, imploding the organisation. Well, we FINALLY get to solve the answer to the NBA’s own ‘chicken or the egg’ riddle: Did Sacramento ruin Boogie or did Boogie ruin Sacramento? My money is on Sacramento being the problem, they’ve been fucking things up long before Boogie arrived: Trading Danny Ainge for the rights to draft Pete Chilcutt in 1990; drafting Joe Kleine in 1985 over Karl Malone, Chris Mullin and Detlef Schrempf; Drafting Pervis Ellison #1 overall in 1989. Hell, Ricky Berry only lasted his rookie year with the Kings before concluding that Kurt Cobaining himself would be a better option than returning for a second season! Maybe we should give Boogie a fucking medal for lasting this long?!?!

Perhaps the biggest risk New Orleans took on was the possibility that Boogie can walk away after next season as an unrestricted free agent. If this experiment fails then Boogie moves on to another team, creates another potential juggernaut and the Pelicans go on as if (almost) nothing ever happened. If the Pelicans grab the 8th seed this season, sneak a couple of games off the Warriors in the first round then reel off a feel-good 50+ win season next year then I have a lot of difficulty seeing him walk away. Say what you want about Boogie, you couldn’t question his loyalty these past 7 seasons.

The Pelicans just became essential NBA League Pass viewing overnight and personally I can’t wait to see how this storyline unfolds either way. These first few games are going to be amazing as we watch Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry try to figure things out with the same look on his face as that guy who has badgered his girlfriend for years for a threesome and now finds himself with two beautiful, naked women in front of him and absolutely no idea what to do with them.