Mailbag: Does trading for DeMarcus Cousins make sense for the Miami Heat?

DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates with Darren Collison #7 against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden on December 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates with Darren Collison #7 against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden on December 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

It’s December. That means the busy part of the NBA trade season is near.

So we thought it was an appropriate time to answer a hypothetical trade question as part of this week’s Heat mailbag. Would trading for DeMarcus Cousins make sense for Miami?

We answer that question and more in this edition of the Heat mailbag (plus give some holiday gift advice).

If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

Erik: Does trading for DeMarcus Cousins make sense for the Heat?

Anthony Chiang: It always makes sense to trade for a player as talented as DeMarcus Cousins. So, yes. But the question is, what would the Heat have to give up? With Cousins listed as a center, it might make sense to swap Hassan Whiteside for him. But the Kings already have a lot of big men even without Cousins — Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis. So Sacramento could ask for Goran Dragic instead. In this scenario, the Heat would be left with a front court of Whiteside and Cousins. With Whiteside not moving from the center position, Cousins would need to play as a power forward. And he’s getting some experience doing that this season, as Cousins has played as a power forward 42 percent of the time after not playing the position at all over his first six NBA seasons, according to Basketball Reference. In either of these scenarios, the Heat would also likely have to trade away a piece of their young core — Justise Winslow and/or Josh Richardson.

It makes sense financially, too. Cousins is set to make $16.9 million this season and $18 million next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018. That’s a pretty good price for a player like Cousins and it gives the Heat a full season to decide if they want to invest in him long term (although if Miami gives up part of its young core in the trade, it probably has Cousins in its long-term plans).

Cousins is known as a volatile personality and has the reputation of a “bad locker room guy” (see recent tirade at Sacramento Bee reporter), but Pat Riley has never been scared to acquire that type of player — especially if they’re as talented as Cousins. Will Miami trade for Cousins? I can’t answer that question. But it definitely makes sense.

@the_inn_keeper: Was Josh Richardson’s shooting last year a fluke? Or is the knee still giving him problems?

Anthony Chiang: I wouldn’t call it a fluke just yet. Remember Richardson shot 20 percent from three before shooting an NBA-best 53.3 percent from three following the All-Star break last season. Richardson is shooting 31.3 percent from three this season and he’s dealt with multiple injuries along the way. First it was the partially torn MCL in his right knee that forced him to miss the first four games of the season. Then it was a sprained right ankle that forced him to miss another six games. But the injury that might be affecting Richardson’s shot the most is a sore shooting wrist.

Richardson revealed to me Tuesday night that he’s been playing with a sore wrist since suffering the injury during the Heat’s 98-95 loss to the Bulls on Nov. 10. And Richardson said the wrist has been “real sore” recently. So when you look at Richardson’s shooting percentage for the season, remember that.

@Phinattic: Is it frowned upon to leave an expensive price tag on a gift when you bought it discounted?

Anthony Chiang: Absolutely not. You’re not lying because it was actually worth that price at some point … just not when you bought it.

@hottakeharry: I got my dad a onesie for Chanukah as a joke that says “Light Me Up” on it. Do you think he’ll laugh about it?

Anthony Chiang: Probably not. But you’ll laugh at his reaction, so it’s worth it in the end.

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