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Why the Kings Had to Take the Pelicans’ Offer

Bill Simmons explains why other NBA teams couldn’t top New Orleans

(AP Images)
(AP Images)

In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins–to-the-Pelicans trade, Bill Simmons joined Chris Vernon on The Ringer NBA Show to explain why this may have been one of the only viable offers that the Kings were fielding. Let him tell you why the other teams were unlikely.

To listen to the complete conversation, click here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Playoff Teams Had No Chance

Bill Simmons: There’s 29 teams that could have traded for Boogie. There’s 30 teams in the league, Sacramento couldn’t have traded with themselves. There’s 29 teams left. Let’s do the math.

Five contenders had no chance: Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Houston, and the Clippers. None of those teams could have traded for Boogie.

Four playoff teams had no chance. Toronto, Memphis, Atlanta, and OKC. None of those teams could have. We know that Sacramento wanted to get a lottery pick back or assets. They didn’t want to take back any bad contracts, and they wanted some sort of younger building blocks.

Cross those nine teams out.

Washington couldn’t have gotten him without Bradley Beal. It could have offered Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat, and a nonlottery 2017 first-rounder. That’s not enough. Cross them off.

Portland can’t get him without [offering] C.J. McCollum. Cross them off.

Utah didn’t need him because of Rudy Gobert.

Denver didn’t need him because of Nikola Jokic.

Chris Vernon: Wait, hold on. Let me stop you real quick. Why would I not give up C.J. McCollum?

Simmons: I’d rather have C.J. McCollum than Boogie. I think C.J. McCollum is great. And I’d have to pay him half as much. I’d rather pay him $100 million than Boogie $200 million.

Vernon: But if I’m trying to pair him with [Damian] Lillard …

Simmons: If it was Lillard for Boogie, I might have thought about him more because I like McCollum more than Lillard. But if I’m Portland, I’m not going anywhere, anyway. And if I’m Sacramento and I’m giving them Boogie, then I’m worried that [the Blazers] might sneak into the playoffs, and I’m not even in the lottery with their pick, right?

Vernon: Right. That’s fair.

Simmons: Alright, so Utah doesn’t need him because of Gobert. Denver doesn’t need him because of Jokic, and Philly doesn’t need him because of Joel Embiid.

Some Teams Didn’t Have the Assets

Simmons: Cross Brooklyn and Dallas off. They don’t have assets.

Cross off Miami because it couldn’t have traded its 2017 first, because it has to trade the one next year for the [Goran] Dragic trade.

Minnesota had the lottery pick, but it didn’t have the second asset. If Zach LaVine is healthy, maybe that’s the trade — maybe that’s a better trade than New Orleans. But Zach LaVine is out for a year, so cross them off.

Milwaukee makes no sense because it has Jabari Parker and [Khris] Middleton. There’s no reason for them to go all in on Boogie.

Charlotte could have offered its lottery pick — if it’s in the lottery — and Cody Zeller. But they didn’t have the expiring contract.

Orlando could have offered [Nikola] Vucevic, [Mario] Hezonja, and its 2017 lottery pick, but it would have nothing to build around Boogie [with]. Would you have done that? I wouldn’t have wanted Boogie and have nothing to put around him but Aaron Gordon. Would you do that?

Vernon: They don’t know what they’re doing anyway.

Simmons: They’re screwed anyway and they need a new GM.

Some Teams Weren’t Interested

Simmons: Phoenix wouldn’t make a Boogie trade unless Sacramento took back Brandon Knight’s contract or Tyson Chandler’s contract, because they didn’t have the contracts to add up. Also, [with] Boogie’s reputation about what he’s like around young teammates — true or untrue or half-true or whatever it is — I’m not sure. I like what Phoenix has going. I would just rather have one more lottery pick and figure it out this summer. If you’re Phoenix do you trade for Boogie? I don’t do it. Why would you?

Vernon: What happened to you? I thought you loved him.

Simmons: It’s a big risk!

Vernon: You don’t want to give up anything for him anymore! I thought you loved Boogie!

Simmons: I would give up something for him if I could put him on a good team. If I’m just putting him in the same situation he was in in Sacramento, knowing that I’d have to pay him [$200 million] and that he might … leave? You have no guarantee you’re going to keep him. If you’re Phoenix, why would you do that? How do you know you’re going to keep him? “Oh, I’ve got him and Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.” OK? That’s my team. I don’t know. Obviously, they weren’t interested, because they could have trumped that New Orleans offer.

Vernon: How else are you getting a superstar if you’re them? Drafting him?

Simmons: Well, listen, if I was Phoenix, I would have tried whatever it took to get him without giving up Devin Booker and Bledsoe. Because I think I could build around those three guys and make something. But obviously they weren’t interested because they could’ve trumped that New Orleans offer in five minutes. The same thing with Boston. Boston wasn’t interested. They never even kicked the tires.

Vernon: What are the chances Vlade Divac did his due diligence on this?

Simmons: I think he did! I think he called — I think they made a list, which is basically the list I’m rattling off right now, and called all the usual suspects.

The Lakers Wouldn’t Part With Brandon Ingram

Simmons: We know the Lakers wouldn’t include Brandon Ingram in a Boogie trade.

Vernon: Would you have?

Simmons: They don’t have their first-rounder unless it’s in the top three. If I’m Sacramento, and I’m trading them Boogie, and I’m not getting Brandon Ingram back, I’m getting Julius Randle and I don’t even know [if I want that]. D’Angelo Russell? I don’t know what I’m getting back [as Sacramento], and I might not even get a lottery pick because it goes to Philly unless it’s in the top three. That’s a deal-breaker if Ingram is not [involved]. By the way, what are the Lakers doing? How do you not put Ingram in that trade? I thought that was crazy.

Vernon: That’s what I’m asking you. You would have put Ingram in the trade to get him?

Simmons: Fuck yeah! What are they doing? I don’t know what Brandon Ingram is going to become, but right now, watching him … I’m not sure what position he is or what he’s going to be. I don’t see it yet. It might manifest itself over the next few years, but I don’t see it yet. Have you seen anything?

Vernon: He’s one of the youngest players in the league. I think Ingram is going to be awesome. I do.

Simmons: Would you have given him up for Boogie? Because I would have given him up for Boogie.

Vernon: He would re-sign with me in L.A.

Simmons: Right, and then I could go get another free agent. Now I got a building block … unless the Lakers felt like maybe Boogie wouldn’t entice with other free agents. Just out of curiosity, what do you see Ingram being? Because he’s not the same shooter Durant was.

Vernon: No. The crazy thing is when you see him in person, he is freakishly long. … He can dribble, he can shoot. He can do everything I need him to do. He’s just frail now. I think he’s the kind of guy that if he puts on a bunch of muscle … [he] can be unbelievable. I really do. I think he can be an All-Star.

The Kings Couldn’t Risk Falling Out of the Lottery

Simmons: So the Lakers are out because they wouldn’t give up the pick. The Knicks could’ve offered Derrick Rose’s expiring, their 2017 unprotected first, and maybe a future first, but the problem is if they got Boogie, they’re a playoff team. Boogie, Porzingis, and Carmelo. That’s kind of a scary team. So if I’m Sacramento, I’m looking at that and going well I don’t even know if I’m getting a lottery pick if I do that.

Chicago … had the expirings to make it work. They have their own 2017 pick. They could’ve waived all the protections on their Sacramento pick that they own, so Sacramento just could’ve had their own pick and not gotten another first-rounder from Chicago. I don’t think that’s as good as the New Orleans trade, do you?

Vernon: I don’t get a player?

Simmons: You get Taj Gibson’s expiring and Nikola Mirotic’s expiring. Maybe I’ll throw in Denzel Valentine.

Vernon: No, I need a player.

Simmons: Denzel Valentine is this unconventional point guard, but [he] doesn’t seem like he can shoot. I saw them play the Warriors and they had him handle the ball, and it was great, but then he would fire up [shots]. Between him and Michael Carter-Williams — I was sitting under the basket — I thought I was gonna get hurt. I thought one of their 3s was gonna hit me in the head and put me in the concussion protocol.

Detroit could’ve [offered] Andre Drummond and their 2017 first-rounder. Now they’re already an 8-seed so it’s not a lottery pick.

Vernon: Well, the Kings have like six centers.

Simmons: Right, and the Kings have six centers, so they aren’t going do that.

And now we have New Orleans.

What was the Boogie trade they should’ve made? That’s the thing I don’t think people realize. People are like, “Oh my god, that’s all they got.” What else were they going to get? If Brandon Ingram wasn’t on the table, and if the Celtics weren’t offering anything, and if Orlando’s a mess, and if Phoenix is only going to do it if you take back Brandon Knight’s contract, where was the trade? What was their second offer? I can’t figure it out.

Editor’s note: Indiana was accidentally omitted from this list.