May 29, 2017 | 11:23 am
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New Orleans falls flat in Cousins’ debut & more NBA trade deadline news

If you’re a basketball fan, you probably love the excitement of the trade deadline along with all the drama and speculation that surrounds it. The NBA trade deadline came yesterday at 3 pm Eastern Time and while there weren’t quite as many moves as was rumored, there was still some significant activity that will change the landscape of the league heading into the post-season. Here are some of the highlights.

First, and foremost, you’ve probably already heard about the Sacramento Kings moving DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Kings also shipped Omri Casspi in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 1st and 2nd round picks in the 2017 draft. Sacramento tested out their new recruits last night against the Denver Nuggets and came away with the win by 16 points. The Kings reportedly considered Cousins’ behavioral problems when weighing the decision to move him, and last night the team played as though a heavy weight had been lifted off their shoulders.

Conversely, the Pelicans did not seem to fare as well as some were expecting now that Boogie and Anthony Davis play on the same team. New Orleans lost by 30 points to the Houston Rockets and while Cousins brought in 27 points and 14 rebounds he didn’t play with energy. Cousins is known to be very emotional so the impact of this trade will take him a while to recover from. He opened up in an interview describing the Kings owner & GM as “cowards”.

The Houston Rockets were also active in making deals before the deadline. They acquired Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Corey Brewer and a future draft pick. Williams is a currently a very strong candidate for 6th man of the year–an award he’s won previously. He’ll bring scoring versatility to the Rockets and will allowing the Rockets to continue their great offense as he’s superb at creating shots for himself. Overall, he should be a nice complement to James Harden.

Corey Brewer is a quick slasher who is crafty at getting to the rim. Brewer is one of fastest players I’ve ever seen, and I believe he’ll fit in well with the Lakers as they look to groom their young group under the leadership of Magic Johnson–the newly appointed President of Basketball Operations for LA.

The Toronto Raptors have also made some moves in an effort to bolster their defense. This week, the Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic and P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns. Ibaka is a strong presence under the rim, and he’s a skilled on ball defender. He is expected to start and play the majority of minutes tonight against the Boston Celtics. Tucker is a physical wing defender and good rebounder who is capable of guarding multiple positions. He could use some improvement in his three-point shooting abilities, but overall is a solid defensive addition to Toronto who looks to be preparing for another showdown with the Cavaliers in the post-season.

In Oklahoma City, the Thunder have also done some work to bolster their lineup with the addition of Taj Gibson & Doug McDermott from the Chicago Bulls. In exchange, the Thunder parted with Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne & Anthony Morrow. Gibson is known for being a warrior and is a positive influence in the locker room. He’s described as an old-school power forward who isn’t afraid to get on the offensive glass. McDermott will add three-point scoring to the Thunder, but he’s just average from the field. He’s also not particularly useful on defense but he’s younger and has a higher upside than the aforementioned Morrow or Kyle Singler.

The NBA regular season ends in mid-April and it appears that the Rockets and the Raptors are taking things very seriously as they approach the post-season. Houston sits just a few games behind San Antonio for second place in the West while Toronto is creeping up on Washington for 3rd in the East. The Kings are just one win away from capturing the 8th playoff slot from Denver. All of the teams mentioned here have playoffs in mind albeit with varying levels of potential.

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