Israeli forward Omri Casspi is set to be traded to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a blockbuster deal which will also see All-Star DeMarcus Cousins leave the Sacramento Kings.
In exchange, the Kings will receive Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and 2017 second-rounder.
Casspi has struggled with injuries this season, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 22 games.
The 28-year-old, who hasn’t played since January 13 due to a calf injury, will be a free agent at the end of the season, completing a two-year $6 million deal.
Casspi kick-started his faltering NBA career in Sacramento over the past three seasons, rejoining the Kings in the summer of 2014 after he was traded away by Houston and waived by the Pelicans.
He will be hoping New Orleans decides to keep him this time around and give him an opportunity to play with what is set to be one of the best big-men combinations in the league. The Pelicans are confident they can eventually re-sign Cousins to a contract extension, pairing him for the long term with last night’s All- Star Game MVP, Anthony Davis.
Cousins has one year and $18 million left on his contract after this season.
Davis was informed of the trade as he walked away from the podium following his MVP performance, greeting the news with a smile and a big thumbs-up.
“This is an unbelievable weekend,” Davis told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. “All-Star MVP and now getting Boogie. It doesn’t get better than this.”
Cousins, who is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds, played only two minutes in the Western Conference’s 192-182 victory Sunday night at Smoothie King Center.
That was at Cousins’ request, as he has been feeling worn down.
After the game, Cousins was asked about rumors he was headed to New Orleans and if he would like playing for the Pelicans. “If I’m blessed enough to have a job here, absolutely,” Cousins said.
Casspi will be delighted at getting off to a fresh start in New Orleans, especially with Cousins, whom he befriended in Sacramento.
Cousins visited Israel in the summer of 2015 as part of a tour organized by the Omri Casspi Foundation backed by the National Basketball Players Association aimed at presenting Israel in a positive light across the world.
New Orleans is 2.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference standings, a game behind ninth-place Sacramento.
The Kings had repeatedly stated publicly they would not trade Cousins.
They had publicly declared their allegiance to Cousins and planned to offer him a contract extension exceeding $200 million in the offseason. Kings general manager Vlade Divac privately had promised Cousins and his agent that he would not trade him and the center said he wanted to spend his career in Sacramento and retire a King.
Cousins is from Mobile, Alabama, which isn’t too far from New Orleans, and he always had a lot of family and friends at games when the Kings were in town.
“It was amazing,” Cousins said of the weekend. “I enjoyed the city of New Orleans. I love it here in New Orleans. I’ve been here a lot as a kid so I’m kind of familiar to the city. I had fun.”
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