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Pelicans trade will cost DeMarcus Cousins a lot of money

He’ll still warrant a maximum contract when his current deal is up, but that max is less than what it could have been.

Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to the New Orleans Pelicans is going to cost the three-time All-Star a lot of money over the life of his next contract.

Cousins was expected to sign a “designated player” extension had he remained in Sacramento this summer, which would have paid out more than $200 million over five additional years once his contract expired in 2018. But because he is no longer with the team who drafted him, he no longer qualifies for the extension that owners fought for in the new CBA, made to benefit teams like the Kings.

The rule is designed for middle- and small-market teams to retain star players who might otherwise leave for bigger-market cities. It allows teams to cheat the norm and sign their younger superstar players a year in advance to a five-year extension starting at 35 percent of the cap. Free agents with less than 10 years experience are limited to 30 percent of the cap and can only sign a four-year deal.

But teams can only sign players they drafted or players they traded for during their rookie contracts to this kind of deal, though. That means this won’t be an option for the Pelicans and Cousins.

Here’s an estimate of what Cousins’ contract scenarios were if he was still a member of the Kings. The left column represents his contract as a designated player, and the right column is an estimate of what his contract would look like in the summer of 2018 if he signed with another team.

The life of his Kings’ contract could have paid roughly $75 million more, including an extra guaranteed year, than if he walked in 2018. That’s a lot of money to miss on, though Cousins will still make a large sum of money no matter where he lands.

Because the Pelicans did not draft Cousins, they cannot offer the same extension to him. They will try and convince Cousins, based off the second half of this season and the beginning parts of next, to stay in New Orleans, or else he can walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

Wherever he goes, Cousins will warrant maximum money, but by switching teams, his new “maximum” amount is less than what it could have been with the Kings. That’s why Cousins’ agent tried to dissuade teams from trading for his client. It’s always about the money.

Who won the Cousins trade? The Sixers.