Episode 2.22: James Ham: Kings “Rip the Band-Aid Off” by Trading Cousins

February 25, 2017
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Last Sunday, the Sacramento Kings finally dealt the player who served as both franchise cornerstone and a near-constant thorn in their side for his first six and a half NBA seasons. Comcast Sports Net California Kings Insider James Ham breaks down the complexities of the divorce as only he can. Royal excerpts from James' responses can be found below:

12:35-13:07: Don’t compare Buddy Hield to Stephen Curry, but there is reason to be excited about the young shooting guard:

“Just take that and throw that out the window. He’s not Steph Curry. He can average 14 to 16 points per game in the pros. He can also struggle. But from what I saw of him in limited action on Thursday, [he had a] very nice teardrop in the lane, I thought he handled the ball well, he was able to take guys off the dribble, I thought his defensive prowess was better than what people have talked about, and [post-game] he even talked about not being critiqued the whole time.”

19:48-21:41Hands-on Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé was persuaded to move on from DeMarcus Cousins in a very specific way: 

“I know that he’s got his fingers in every pie in the organization. And in this situation, he was convinced to trade DeMarcus by management as it got closer and closer to the deadline. He was pretty adamant about not trading DeMarcus, and he has been [since he took over]…Is he the right owner for the Sacramento Kings going forward? I don’t know the answer to that. But what I do know is he has no problems opening his checkbook and that he was really loyal to DeMarcus Cousins, but he became enamored with Buddy Hield, which might actually tell you how management was able to shift him away from DeMarcus…so when they made the deal with the Pelicans, he was on board.”

23:02-24:01: Listening to or reading this fascinating anecdote about former general manager Geoff Petrie’s pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo is not advisable for squeamish Kings fans:

“Geoff Petrie was there just for a little while, and just to make Kings fans just cringe, Geoff Petrie had a dossier, a giant binder on Giannis Antetokounmpo. He had scouted him almost exclusively, and that was the selection he was going to take with the McLemore pick, and Pete D’Alessandro came in and just said, ‘Well, thanks. See ya.’ And then two weeks later, drafted Ben McLemore and ignored the dossier that they had produced. He had flown to Greece to scout him himself…When you’re looking at the overall package of what’s happened here in Sacramento over the course of time, there’s a lot of instability. There’s a lot of ups and down…They’ve made a bunch of mistakes.”

26:56-27:32: Kings general manager Vlade Divac has received his fair share of criticism, but only time can truly tell how he’s performed, argues James. He also asserts that Divac has begun to recover from his miserable start in the role:

“It’s not like every move he’s made has just been an epic blunder. I think he has shown improvement. I think he’s always going to get graded on one transaction, maybe two – both of which he’ll be graded negatively on – but I think you have to let it play out, right? You have to see if this team becomes better and they move on without DeMarcus. And then you also have to consider the other side, too. What if DeMarcus is DeMarcus in New Orleans and he implodes and he takes down that group with him? Not that I’m saying that’s going to happen, but there’s a potential there.”

35:00-36:39: Our guest raves about DeMarcus Cousins, the man. Although he is certainly flawed on and off the court, Cousins’ huge heart has transformed him into a role model in the Sacramento community:

“He’s a big, lovable dude. I’ve had plenty of run-ins with him over seven years, but I’d say the last two years, he and I kind of came to an understanding of each other. We had some conversations, and we had a very, very good relationship as time has gone by. I genuinely think he’s a good dude who doesn’t always do good things, but deep down he cares. There was a situation where a Grant High School football player was shot and killed before a playoff game, and DeMarcus quietly reached out and paid for everything for that family. Their pastor decided to go public with the fact that Cousins had done that. He wanted nothing to do with any credit for any of it…his stuff that he’s done in the community is amazing. He was emotional [after he was traded away from Sacramento], and it’s not fake at all. He was in shock. He was absolutely crushed.”

Music: "Who Likes to Party" by Kevin Macleod

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