I am still in utter disbelief that the Sacramento Kings traded All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. Not so shocked that Cousins was moved as the Kings clearly didn't trust him from a character standpoint to give him a $200-plus million super-max extension this summer (he's signed through 2017-18 but can sign an extension this summer). Getting traded will cost Cousins some $30 million, by the way, because of the new CBA rules and the difference of what his original team and new team can offer. I just can't believe all the Kings could get were Buddy Hield, the Pelicans' 2017 first-round pick and some garbage. How did the Boston Celtics not trump that offer with one of those Nets picks? How did the Lakers not give up Brandon Ingram for Boogie?
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The Pelicans will be fascinating to watch with Cousins and Anthony Davis together on the court. They now have two of the three players averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game this season (the other is Russell Westbrook). Cousins and Davis are the only players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in each of the past four seasons. There's simply no frontcourt like that in the NBA. I mean, go back to Tim Duncan and David Robinson for something similar. Yeah, the Pelicans are weak everywhere else other than point guard Jrue Holiday, but so what? If I'm the Warriors, I am fearing New Orleans getting the No. 8 seed in the West and having to face those Twin Towers in the first round. If there's one weakness on Golden State, it's dealing with size up front. The West just got much more interesting. The trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, but I highly doubt we see a bigger name moved.
Trail Blazers at Magic (+2, 213.5)
Here's hoping you didn't back Portland every night in the first half as the Blazers have the worst ATS record in the NBA at 22-34 ATS. The Magic are right here at the bottom with them at 23-33-2 ATS. Portland is still in the mix for the West's final playoff spot, but I absolutely think the Pelicans will get that now if everyone stays healthy. Orlando defeated Portland, 115-109, at the Moda Center on Jan. 13. Nikola Vucevic had 30 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando; he could be moved by Thursday. Damian Lillard scored a game-high 34 points for the Blazers. The Magic also have won the past four home meetings.
Key trends: The Blazers are 0-6 against the spread in their past six games. The Magic are 1-6 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of the Magic's past nine at home.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Hornets at Pistons (-5, 208.5)
Detroit could make a deal by Thursday as it's clear Stan Van Gundy no longer wants point guard Reggie Jackson around, and since SVG is also in charge of personnel - Jackson probably won't be. The latest rumor is Jackson to Orlando for D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green. Jackson is overpaid, but everyone is in the NBA these days. I'd jump at that if I was the Magic. Detroit got off to an 11-10 start when Jackson was out to start the season recuperating from persistent knee tendinitis. The Pistons are 16-20 since he returned. This is the final meeting between Detroit and Charlotte. The Pistons lead 2-1 and have won three of the past four home meetings.
Key trends: The favorite is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 5-0 in the Hornets' past five.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Rockets at Pelicans ( pick'em, 228)
Can't TNT shift its early game from Knicks-Cavs to this for Cousins' debut? How good of a Sunday night did Davis have? He set an NBA All-Star Game record for scoring in his own city and then found out he was getting Cousins next to him. Now Davis can shift to power forward, where he belongs, and cause even more havoc. Houston beat New Orleans in the first meeting this season, 122-100 at home on Dec. 16. Former Pelican Eric Gordon had 29 points. Houston has taken the past three in the series overall and six of seven. This presumably will be the Rockets debut of Lou Williams, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate acquired from the Lakers on Tuesday.
Key trends: The Rockets are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-1 in Houston's past five overall.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Knicks at Cavaliers (-11, 221)
First TNT game. The Knicks are keeping Carmelo Anthony for now, but they will try again to move him this summer. The Cavs could make a move for a backup point guard by Thursday or hope someone gets waived right after the deadline they can pick up. If the Celtics had gotten Cousins, that really would have made the East intriguing. It's still the Cavs and everyone else. Cleveland leads the season series with New York 3-0 and has won nine straight overall vs the Knicks.
Key trends: The Knicks are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 8-2 in the past 10.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Clippers at Warriors (-14, 230)
Second TNT game. Golden State enters the second half with a four-game lead over San Antonio for the top spot in the West. The Warriors also lead the league in scoring by a mile at 118.2 ppg. The Clippers are battling Utah and perhaps Memphis for the No. 4 seed in the West, which would mean a conference semifinal matchup vs. the Warriors assuming the Clips win in Round 1. L.A. should get Chris Paul back in a couple of weeks. Golden State has won nine straight vs. Los Angeles. The Warriors have won each of the three meetings this season by at least 13 points.
Key trends: The Clippers are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-1 in the Warriors' past six after a win.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
Nuggets at Kings (TBA)
I feel bad for those poor Kings fans. They built that crappy franchise a new building and now their biggest name to watch is Hield? The only good thing that trade did was all but ensure the Kings won't have to send their 2017 first-round pick to Chicago. They would have if it was outside the Top 10. I highly doubt the Kings win enough to where that pick comes into play. Now we get to see if Willie Cauley-Stein, the No. 6 overall pick in 2015, is any good. He should see big minutes with Cousins gone. Hield also should get plenty of run. The delusional Kings owner supposedly thinks Hield can be Steph Curry. Sacramento has won the past four meetings with Denver.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 7-0 in the Kings' past seven vs. the West.
Early lean: TBA for a few banged-up Nuggets (Mudiay, Chandler, Faried, Gallinari) but it looks as if all will play - if not traded. If they do play, take Denver regardless of number.
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