Presti’s Missed Opportunity

Boogie was traded for a nickel, so why didn’t Sam Presti cough up a dime?


As All-Star weekend began to simmer on Sunday night, an awkwardly timed Woj Bomb shocked the sports world:

My first thought was Jrue Holiday/Buddy Hield/Tyreke Evans and 1st Rounder for Cousins and Darren Collison. Fair enough, right?

Evidently I, and everyone else, vastly overestimated the price of the best Center in the NBA.

Besides taking Boogie Cousins — the most dominant offensive center since Shaq — New Orleans also receives Omri Casspi, who if you don’t know, is a favorite of basketball nerds — because he’s secretly REALLY FRICKIN’ GOOD. Let us not forget Casspi’s Wild West shootout with Steph Curry last season:

Now to be clear, I have wanted Boogie in Oklahoma City or Boston since the day he was born. However, between his assumed value and his constant attitude issues, it seemed improbable he would move. But, in classic Kings fashion, they fooled the entire NBA by trading a top 10 superstar for a bag of kitty litter.

Naturally, the rest of the NBA is stuck between dumbstruck and anger; because even a first year fan knows that every single team could’ve beaten this offer, including your Oklahoma City Thunder.

I’d like to start off by apologizing to Sam Presti. You’re a great GM, Sam, and I have supported nearly all of your moves. But here’s the thing…I think you really messed up by not trading for Boogie, because Russell Westbrook needs somebody else, and that somebody else is sadly not on the roster.

The Thunder did categorically have better pieces than what the Pelicans gave Sacramento for Demarcus Cousins. So first off, let’s look at the youth that Sacramento wanted by acquiring Buddy Hield.

Here’s all of the players on the Thunder who are younger, or the same age, as Buddy Hield (23):

Steven Adams (23)

Jerami Grant (22)

Cameron Payne (22)

Domantas Sabonis (20)

Alex Abrines (23)

Outside of Payne, these players have been seen as largely untouchable in any trade. However, when considering the fact it’s BOOGIE COUSINS, an exception should have been made.

But more importantly, when you compare the styles and numbers of fellow rookies Abrines and Hield, you have to start to question how the Thunder couldn’t put a better deal on the table before NOLA and SAC agreed to terms. Here are the two rookies along with their key stats for present and future, and for subjectivity, their names will be hidden.

Per Game

Player 1: 14.0 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, .393 FG%, .375 3P%, .527 eFG%

Player 2: 20.4 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, .392 FG%, .369 3P%, .486 eFG%

So let’s break this down.

Player 1 is more efficient, but doesn’t do much outside of shooting. However, Player 2 plays slightly more minutes than Player 1, and really doesn’t do a lot with that extra floor time. So far, it’s a toss up of styles rather than production, but Player 2 might take a slight edge.

Per 36 Min

Player 1: 13.9 PTS 2.9 REB 1.3 AST 1.2 STL 11.3 FGA

Player 2: 15.1 PTS 5.1 REB 2.4 AST 0.6 STL 14.6 FGA

Things become a lot more interesting in round two. When you put the players on a level playing field of 36 minutes, Player 1 scores about one point less than Player 2 but on about four less shots — that’s a huge margin for only one point.

So Player 1 is more efficient again, but the gap is shown with much greater distinction. They both lack elite playmaking skills, but they’re both shooters, and shooters shoot. However, Player 2 has a stronger rebounding presence, which is important in the guard rebounding craze that has struck the NBA.

Player 1 also makes a strong case for being a better defensive presence with double the amount of steals of Player 1. On the surface, Player 2 looks better, but in reality, Player 1 is more productive.

Per 100 Poss/Advanced Stats

Player 1: 18.9 PPG 3.9 RPG 1.2 APG 1.2 Win Shares 16.0 USG%

Player 2: 20.6 PPG 7.0 RPG 3.2 APG 0.4 Win Shares 20.4 USG%

Now here’s where Player 1 knocks Player 2 out, with Per 100 Possession stats and Advanced Statistics based on their Per 100 Possession numbers.

Player 2 once again has the flashier raw stats, but looking into the USG% and Win Shares tells a different story. Player 1 falls only about a point short, but with far less USG%. Meanwhile, Player 2’s stats prove their emptiness as he fails to even match 1 win share to Player 1’s 1.2 win shares.

If you haven’t figured out, Player 1 is Alex Abrines and Player 2 is Buddy Hield. I love Buddy and have been largely unsure of Abrines, but after diving into the numbers, it’s not difficult to see that Abrines not only offers more value right now, but perhaps more if thrust into a larger role.

Abrines simply offers a higher ceiling for me. Sadly, Buddy’s numbers are decent on a bad team, while Abrines has good stats on a decent to good team.

Random number tidbits:

Hield has -0.4 Offensive Win Shares to Abrines’s 0.7, and while Buddy has bigger offensive stats, he has a 97 Offensive Rating with offensive guru Alvin Gentry as his head coach, while Abrines has compiled a 112 ORtg with a shaky second Unit.

Defensively? They both suck at defense with a 111 Defensive Rating.

So after swapping in Abrines for Buddy, let’s look at the other parts of the deal.

Langston Galloway — whom has been rumored to be cut by the Kings after the deal goes through— can easily be swapped out for the younger and higher ceiling of Cameron Payne. We know the Kings are very intrigued by Cam, so if Payne and Abrines are both better than their provided counterparts, let’s look at the final pieces of the trade, Tyreke Evans and the draft picks.

Evans was included for salary reasons, as he and the Kings are reportedly going to work on a buyout agreement. The draft picks are a 2017 1st rounder and a future 2nd.

Fillings Evans’ spot is quite simple and beneficial for both teams as the Thunder could swap in Kyle Singler. Buying out Singler would save the Kings around a million and a half after Evans’ trade kicker.

Now the draft picks are where things become interesting because the Thunder cannot trade their 2017 1st Rounder. However, they have someone who would be better than the eventual 16–20 pick that the Pelicans will give the Kings. My dearest friend, Domantas Sabonis.

I love Sabonis and I think he has All-Star potential in the way that Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward are All-Stars, but while the Kings have a cluster at the Center position, the Power Forward of the future is not on that roster — Skal Labissiere is dope but unproven, and much better the at the 5.

Putting Sabonis in the trade also allows the Kings to cut Matt Barnes, who hasn’t been a great role model for the young players, and would love to be on a contender anyway.

So after much deliberation and internal debate, I think I have arrived at a trade which works for both sides.

OKC Receives:

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and Omri Casspi

SAC Receives:

Alex Abrines, Cameron Payne, Kyle Singler, Domantas Sabonis, and two future 2nd Rounders

The beauty of this trade is that the Kings would then have the personnel to tank hard for the possibility of getting into the top 3 lottery spots, rid themselves of their “albatross” aka Boogie, get three foundational pieces, cap relief, and future picks. Meanwhile OKC would get Boogie and this guy. (just wait for it…)

But oh wait, none of this matters because the Kings traded Boogie to New Orleans for a bucket of peanuts. Whatever. I digress.

I don’t know if Presti actually made an offer or not, but I wish he had because if we know one thing, the Kings are really dumb. They have an obsession with trading for Shooting Guards and players which they love for no reason — sound like Cameron Payne much?

Ultimately, not getting Cousins should be held against Presti; but not getting Boogie for the price of a Big Gulp is not just a stain on Presti’s resume, but on every GM in the league, even those with elite centers — looking at you Danny Ainge, looking at you.

I just write stuff sometimes, maybe often now, not sure