It’s not as bad as it seems (though it’s not very good)
On the surface this looks like a really bad trade considering what Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony fielded. But you have to look at this trade different from those. For one James Dolan doesn't run the Pelicans and that Melo trade was a one in a million type of deal. In Kevin Love's case Lebron James had just come back to town and demanded All-NBA talent around him, not a future All-star.
The biggest problem with this trade is the timing as it clearly should have been done last year to maximize value. Instead we traded 1.5 years of an All-Star rental for a rookie project, a couple decent guards, a first and second round pick next year. Again, not a great yield but not nearly as horrible as it seems. I'd grumble more at the timing than the return. Supposedly this is a deep draft so any first rounder is coveted more than a regular year.
What this says to me is the Kings got the intention or Boogie's team flat out told them he would not sign the extension and look at free agency. I know he said he loved Sac, wanted his name in the rafter, etc. and that's fine. Lamarcus Aldridge said the same things about Portland and he signed with the Spurs. Kevin Durant in 2015 said he would love to stick with the Thunder for his whole career. NBA players saying things like that is PR lip service, nothing more.
From what I gained the Kings tried and failed (miserably) at building the team around Cousins the last couple years. Now that Vlade eviscerated our future with the 76ers trade he's trying to clean it up. It is not good GM'ing at all, but a good step is to acknowledge your previous bad mistakes and recover from it. Or maybe it just prolongs your fleeting job security.
Another underrated side of this is maybe the Pelicans deal was the best offer teams were giving the Kings. Danny Ainge clearly did not want him for the Kings' price and neither did the Lakers. As Kings fans we might have to accept that Cousins' price tag was viewed a whole lot less around the NBA than in Sac.
One GM "quote" I've read states that the Pelicans are desperate and made a bad deal, and the Kings are "free" as they won't have to pay him the 200+ millions extension. This seems closer to what the NBA insiders feel about the deal.
That first round pick is protected 1-3 so there is a chance the ultimate Kangz thing occurs and we lose both that pick and are decent enough for the Chicago pick to convey. To be honest with you this is a scenario I can easily see happening.
I don't put much faith in the front office but I don't think this deal is as bad as it seems. It's not great and it's borderline OK but it's not the worst trade ever. This same package plus a 2019 would have made it better. Looking ahead to next year we have young players, not sure if they are any good yet though. Bogdan/Buddy/Malachi for the wings, WCS/PapaG/Skal as the bigs. Get a young PG in the draft and we are set up to rebuild/tank the next few years.
Prepare to see a youth movement and some sneaky tanking action. Whether this is going to be a legit rebuild depends on the other draft assets we wrangle up. Strap your boots on folks, we're looking at a lot (more) L's the next couple years.