In Defense of Vlade Divac
Vlade Divac finally consummated a trade of Demarcus Cousins over All-Star weekend. Divac was certainly never known for his defense as a player but he was an offensive virtuoso for his entire career. As a GM, all he
has a chance to do is play defense for an owner that is involved in every decision for the franchise. Divac has not had a chance to play offense yet as a GM because he is beholden to the whims of Vivek Ranadive and those whims blast around the office and disrupt any semblance of a plan.
This trade absolutely should have happened any time over the last year and likely would have received a more enticing package but at least the franchise can move forward with a true rebuild. The return for Cousins doesn’t sound all that appealing but I’d much rather have Buddy Hield and a lottery pick than pay Cousins $200+ million in guaranteed salary. Really, I see nothing but positives for the Kings after unloading DMC.
The assets Divac got will essentially look like 3 starters for the price of getting rid of one gargantuan headache. Tyreke Evans will start for the rest of this season and maybe beyond. Buddy Hield is a day one starter at Shooting Guard as a rookie, which is no small feat. Lastly, the 1st round pick will almost assuredly be a lottery selection in a loaded draft. The trade opens up starter minutes for Willie Cauley-Stein who went atomic with 29 points and 10 rebounds in his first game out from behind Cousins shadow. The Kings can also now play at a faster pace rather than dedicate an entire offense a singular possession devouring center.
Divac is a good guy that cares about people. I met him several times while living in Sacramento and he was kind, generous, friendly and open. This trade went down during All-Star Weekend and Cousins was certainly the only Kings player welcome at the event. Divac is being destroyed for saying that he “had a better deal two days ago,” but the reality is that a trade only days before the All-Star Game could have created a serious problem for everyone involved. What if the trade was to an Eastern Conference team? Does DMC then not get to be an All-Star? He absolutely has the stats to be considered for All-NBA and deserves to be an All-Star. Trading him to the other conference may have taken away his accolades. Holding off until Sunday night, after the game, was the right thing to do on a human level.
For this trade, I do not fault Vlade Divac in any way. He got the best deal he could given the circumstances while freeing up the franchise to try and establish a clearer vision. They have an excellent coach, a shimmering basketball palace in which to play, top tier talent in Hield and Cauley-Stein as well as two lottery selections in the most stacked draft in five years. For the first time in a decade things are looking up for the Kings.