How the Kings/Pelicans Trade Impacts Pick Swap

The NBA trade rumors surrounding the Kings began to heat up as the NBA All-Star game was taking place. How does it help the Philadelphia 76ers?

The NBA All-Star game took place on Sunday night in New Orleans, but the real drama occurred off of the court. The Sacramento Kings, who just recently emphatically denied that they were going to be trading DeMarcus Cousins, reportedly agreed to terms on a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans that would send Cousins to New Orleans.

The Kings will also send Omri Casspi, and will receive Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and a 2017 first-round and second-round pick. The first-round pick is top-three protected, similar to the Los Angeles Lakers pick that the Sixers own.

While many outlets were reporting the trade details, so it’s hard to credit where this originally came from, ESPN was probably the most active in providing information first (credit to Marc Stein, specifically). Adrian Wojnarowski also provided plenty of details throughout the night.

This means that if the Pelicans lose out on the lottery, the Kings will get the pick. If the Pelicans are one of the three teams who are drawn within the lottery, they will keep their pick. At the moment, they have the ninth-best odds at getting the top overall pick, six below the stipulation of the protection on the pick.

The trade is still in the “agreed upon terms” stage now, and needs to be approved by the league on Monday, according to ESPN.

The Sixers lost out big time this past week. New Orleans has been looking for a big man to put alongside Anthony Davis, and the Sixers were talking with the Pelicans about the possibility of sending Jahlil Okafor to New Orleans. Bryan Colangelo seemed to have dropped the ball there, and after the team sat him for two straight games seemingly because of an imminent trade, he was back with the team, and trade talks simmered down quickly.

Now, the Sixers have gone from one seriously interested solid trade partner in the Pelicans to zero, as far as we know.

But this trade isn’t all bad for the Sixers. In fact, it could seriously help their long-term success.

The Sixers, this season, have the right to use their own draft pick, or to swap their pick location with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings, who are 24-33, currently have the 11th best odds to win the lottery (and if their pick falls outside of the top 10, it actually goes to the Chicago Bulls).

It is in the Kings best interest over these next few months of the NBA season to get a little worse so they can have a chance at keeping their pick from the Bulls. The best case scenario for Sacramento now is that the Pelicans come in at fourth, while their own pick comes in at fifth, and the Sixers are somewhere in 1-3. That situation is incredibly unlikely, but the ideal one for Sacramento.

The pick swap with the Sixers has huge implications with this trade. The Kings, after trading Cousins, are going to be entering the rest of their season with a tank-heavy mindset, that much has become obvious. Cousins was by far their best player, as he led the team in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Losing him immediately has a poor impact.

Now, Tyreke Evans and Buddy Hield are not bad players by any means. In fact, one was pretty good just a few years ago (Evans), and one has the potential to be very good in just a few years (Hield). So all it may take is an increased role in Sacramento to turn them into leaders and players that can produce wins. That said, I still don’t think these guys will even come close to the impact that Cousins had, and therefore, we can expect the Kings to lose a fair amount of games in this final leg of the season. With 25 games remaining, they could plummet in the standings, and rise in the lottery lineup.

The Sixers don’t need the Kings to be first overall in lottery odds (although that would be ideal). The Kings getting worse by any degree helps the Sixers, because it increases their odds of getting the top overall pick. Since any of the 14 teams in the lottery can jump up and grab number one overall, the Sixers benefit from the Kings just being in the lottery. The worse they get, the more Philly benefits.

The ideal situation for the Kings, as discussed, is to be below 10, but behind the Sixers in lottery odds. Additionally, they want the Pelicans right around fourth overall in the draft once the lottery is done. The tough part for the Kings is that they want to lose, but not lose too much.

Unfortunately for them, sometimes losing is a slippery slope and once they start they may be unable to stop. And that just may help out the Sixers a lot, making their chances at a top overall pick even greater.