Kings GM Vlade Divac explains his comments about having a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins two days before the deal in an interview with Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee about last week’s shocking trade.
Divac says the offer came from the Pelicans, who were proposing Buddy Hield and two first-round picks, rather than the final package of Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and this year’s first- and second-rounders. He blames the center’s agents, Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana, for driving down Cousins’ price.
“I talked to DeMarcus’ agents to inform them we were having talks, negotiating terms, and they called teams and threatened them,” Divac explained, “saying that if Cousins was traded, he would not sign an extension. [The Pelicans] got scared and dropped it down to a second-round pick. I thought if I waited longer, I would get less. I needed to act.”
Divac also addressed the urgency created by a possible extension for Cousins, recent comments about keeping the big man in Sacramento and the decision to waive Matt Barnes in a wide-ranging discussion. Here are some highlights:
On the decision to pull the trigger on the trade to New Orleans:
“It was a lot of things, but basically, I thought it was time to start over. There was a lot of bad stuff happening here the last five years, a lot of bad habits. There were always issues, many you don’t even know about. Now I believe strongly this was the right thing to do for our future. Now I have a clear vision. This city deserves better, and I want to create that. With DeMarcus’ situation, I basically was stuck.”
Divac explains the stuck comment by noting that the Kings were looking at another non-playoff season with the prospect of either giving Cousins a massive extension this summer or trying to trade him with an expiring contract, which Divac believes would have scared teams away.
On a statement to ESPN earlier this month that Cousins was staying in Sacramento:
“Because I really did not have [good offers] for DeMarcus. In all the conversations I was having with GMs, we weren’t going to get anything. People were scared because of his history. So I felt confident he was going to stay with us, and I was going to work with him, and we would do the best we can. But then I got the offer from the Pelicans a few days before the All-Star Game. That was a difference of, what, two weeks from what I had said to ESPN? Everything changed.”
On recommending anger management therapy for the sometimes volatile star:
“Actually, that happened, and this time, they seemed more receptive. But I wasn’t sure if that was because the contract was coming up or what, so I wasn’t sure how to take it. Again, I wanted change, to start over. Acquire assets, build it right. At the same time play hard, play up-tempo, share the ball. Be a team, grow together.”
On releasing Barnes, who was waived Monday to open a roster spot and allow the deal to be completed:
“I want to build a culture, and he didn’t fit in my culture. Before we were just talking, preaching. But if we’re going to do it, you do it. The good thing about our situation now is that we have some very nice assets, a few more shooting guards, and time to take a look at Willie [Cauley-Stein], Skal [Labissiere] and Malachi Richardson] when he gets healthy, and Georgios Papagiannis. Ty Lawson has been very good for us, and Darren [Collison] is playing well, and he will be a free agent. Kosta [Koufos] has been good. We have [Bogdan] Bogdanovic coming over next season as another asset.”
On taking heat for moving Cousins:
“That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.”