“My love for this city has never changed,” he said, his voice wavering. He turned from the crowd and appeared to be choked up. “My love for this city has never changed. Even though I’m gone, it’ll still be the same. You know, I’m still lookin’ out for these kids. Every family in this city matters to me; every soul in this city matters to me.
“Everything’s the same. I’m just not in a Kings uniform anymore, which is OK, because, you know, the love is still here. It’s still gonna go on.”
My friend got transferred to another city because of his job. He had some things to say. Rough to watch. pic.twitter.com/iBRyMf1UP7
— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) February 21, 2017
The teams announced Monday afternoon that the Kings had sent Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder.
The move came just two weeks after the Kings publicly proclaimed Cousins was off the market.
Cousins, 26, is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season.
The three-time All-Star center recently served a one-game suspension after accruing his 17th technical foul. He will be forced to serve additional suspensions with every other tech he incurs for the rest of the regular season.
The immediacy of landing two picks from what is widely projected as a strong draft, as well as the chance to start over amid growing internal concern about Cousins’ unpredictability and run-ins with referees, were chief among the lures that convinced the Kings to go forward with the trade, rather than playing the process out until Thursday’s trade deadline, sources said.
Cousins has one season left on his current contract and can become a free agent in the summer of 2018. He would have been eligible to sign a five-year, $209 million extension with the Kings this summer had he stayed in Sacramento. New Orleans will be able to offer him a five-year, $179 million extension in July.
Cousins had spoken openly for weeks about his desire to spend his entire career in Sacramento, despite the club’s decadelong playoff drought.
“That’s home,” Cousins said of Sacramento in an interview with ESPN Radio last week. “I’m loyal to the city, I’m loyal to the fans and I’m loyal to the organization. This is part of my legacy, and I want to bring us back to the promised land.”
Cousins is expected to fly to New Orleans on Tuesday, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.
Information from ESPN’s Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.