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Kings GM admits he turned down a better DeMarcus Cousins trade offer 2 days before Pelicans deal

Vlade Divac made a strange admission after trading DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a Monday press conference the Sacramento Kings had a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins two days ago that “disappeared.” Instead, Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in a deal centered around Buddy Hield on Sunday.

It’s a bizarre admission for Divac, who was trying to justify why the Kings traded Cousins instead of waiting until Thursday’s deadline. While Cousins’ value had obviously dropped, the Kings still made a trade that netted them an objectively poor return — Hield, a first-round pick that may not even be in the lottery, and two players with expiring contracts not expected to be part of the future.

“I don't want to discuss in details about the process. It was a big process for us,” Divac said in Monday’s presser. “This was the best offer that we could get (at) the particular time.”

The Kings were reportedly in talks with the Lakers and a couple other teams on Sunday, but ruled them out to focus on Sacramento’s offer. One reason is that the Kings reportedly think very highly of Hield and wanted him on the team.

Divac said he went into All-Star Weekend expecting to trade Cousins. When asked why Cousins’ camp was reassured by the Kings that Cousins wouldn’t be traded before this year’s trade deadline, Divac declined to comment.

Divac also said the trade was his decision, without any input from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who he said has put Divac fully in charge of basketball operations.

“He didn't have any idea,” Divac said. “I just told him what I was going to do.”

Why Divac didn’t take the better deal two days before isn’t clear. Certainly, they didn’t do themselves any favors by waiting. In a press release sent out about the new additions, Divac took a clear shot at Cousins.

“It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization. Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud.”

Notably, the “winning begins with culture and character matters” line stands out as a shot at Cousins.

Who won the Cousins trade? The Sixers.