Two days ago, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Kings sent Boogie along with Omri Casspi to NOLA in exchange for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, and 2017 first and second round picks. Many journalists are calling the trade a “heist” on account of the Pelicans. New Orleans gets a proven superstar while the Kings receive “a three-piece meal at Popeyes”. In my opinion, the trade is a win-win for the Kings and Pelicans. But it requires a look back at NBA history to see why:
Boogie reminds me a lot of a former player named Elvin Hayes, also known as "The Big E". Like Boogie, Hayes was a dominant big man. He played in the league for all of the 1970s and into the early 1980s putting up incredible numbers. Like Boogie, Hayes was traded to a team with an established superstar big man. He was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Washington Bullets who already had Wes Unseld. Finally, and perhaps most importantly like Boogie, Hayes was a polarizing player. Fans loved him. Teammates and coaches hated him. A trainer for the Washington Bullets said, “being around Elvin every day is like a Chinese water torture”. Another writer following the team noted, “he did not spend a single social evening around Washington with a teammate, nor did he do more than eat a few meals with any of them on the road.” Of course there were exceptions, but Hayes was generally very hard to get along with on and off the court.
In a particularly amusing story from when the Washington Bullets’ Owner Scott Pollin took the team to China, Hayes adamantly refused to get off the bus to look at the Great Wall:
Pollin peered back and asked Hayes if he was coming. "I've seen a big wall before, Mr. Pollin," Hayes told him. Wes Unseld tried to persuade Hayes by telling him the wall was the only man-made structure that can be seen from outer space. To which Hayes responded, "I'm never going into outer space." 
In this situation Hayes resembles a stubborn middle-schooler on a field trip. It speaks volumes that Hayes couldn’t even cozy up to Wes Unseld, one of the most revered men in NBA history. But here's the thing: Hayes and Unseld led the Bullets to win their one and only NBA championship in 1978.
Seeing the incredible similarities between the Big E, Boogie and their situations, the Kings-Pelicans trade can be seen in a new light. In New Orleans Cousins will be paired with Anthony “The Brow” Davis, one of the most renowned personalities and rising superstars in the league. They will be the first pair of teammates with averages of 20 ppg and 10 rpg since Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the 97-98 season. This is by all means an extraordinary opportunity for the Pelicans to win big if they can secure the 8 seed in the West (they currently sit 2.5 games back from that position). It would be a treat for NBA fans everywhere to see Boogie and the Brow wreak havoc on Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, and Draymond Green down on the block for at least four games in the playoffs.
For the Sacramento Kings, the value of Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and Buddy “Buckets” Hield can be debated. I think that a three-piece meal at Popeyes might be a little harsh of a comparison. The first round pick they acquired would lose a whole lot of value if the Pelicans were to rip off a huge win streak and bulldoze their way into the playoffs. But regardless of what happens in New Orleans, I believe that Sacramento has won in this trade. They get a fresh start with several young players and another pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The Kings have been building around DeMarcus for years and haven’t had a winning season for over a decade. Shedding a potentially toxic player gives them the breathing room to truly start anew.
For the Pelicans things may not pan out. DeMarcus Cousins is known to be a potentially destructive personality on and off the court. Whether it is abusing journalists in the locker room, taking cheap shots at players during games , or leading the entire league in technical fouls (Boogie has been in the top-5 in techs every year since 2013), he has earned himself a foul reputation. There is a decent chance that Cousins and Davis don’t click, and the team implodes. But even if this happens the Pels don’t have to re-sign Boogie after the season. It would have been an experiment worth trying.
Looking back, if Boogie is the modern Big E, then perhaps Anthony Davis can play the role of the modern Wes Unseld. After all, Unseld and Hayes did not get along personally but managed to win regardless. As Unseld explained to one journalist:
"I don't dwell within Elvin. I don't know what he's thinking and I don't care. The person I know is the basketball player, and right now he is one of the best in the league. What he's done verifies that. We've had more than our share of run-ins off the court. But when he's on the court he's a professional and that's all that matters."
For the Pelicans and Davis’ purposes, Boogie Cousins is certainly one of the best players in the league. Let’s see what they can do with him on board.