In his strongest public statement to date on the subject, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac told ESPN on Monday that All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins is going nowhere before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
Amid recent reports that the Kings had engaged the Phoenix Suns in talks involving Cousins, as well as suggestions that some in the organization were advocating a trade, Divac insisted by phone that any such speculation was untrue.
“We’re not trading DeMarcus,” Divac told ESPN. “We hope he’s here for a long time.”
Sources told ESPN that Divac recently met face to face with Cousins and his representatives to make it clear that the 26-year-old is not being made available to interested teams and encouraged them to ignore any media speculation leading up to the trade deadline.
ESPN reported in early January that the Kings already have begun planning to offer Cousins one of the league’s new maximum Designated Player contract extensions — estimated to be in the $ 219 million range over five seasons — once the league’s new collective bargaining agreement takes effect in July.
Asked by ESPN on Monday about their intentions, Divac said: “We are going in that direction.”
Cousins, for his part, has said on numerous occasions this season that he wants to be in Sacramento for the long term, despite the fact that the Kings have yet to reach the playoffs in his first six pro seasons. Sacramento began play Monday in the West’s No. 11 spot at 20-31 and 2.5 games out of a playoff spot.
If the Kings and Cousins come to terms on an extension this summer, he will be wedded to Sacramento until July 2018 at the earliest. The rules attached to the new Designated Player provision would prevent Cousins from becoming trade eligible for one full year after he signs.
The Suns, according to a report last week from arizonasports.com, pitched an offer headlined by small forward T.J. Warren, center Alex Len and a future first-round pick to the Kings for Cousins.