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We at Hoops Rumors love interacting with our readers. This is why we provide an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in our weekly mailbag feature, which is posted each Sunday.

Have a question regarding player movement, free agent rumors, the salary cap, the NBA draft, or the top storylines of the week? You can e-mail them here: [email protected]. Feel free to send emails throughout the week, but please be mindful that we may receive a sizable number of questions and might not get to all of them.

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Western Notes: Gentry, Speights, Bender

The Pelicans are off to a 7-16 start to the campaign, but coach Alvin Gentry isn’t concerned about his job status, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relays. “I really don’t give a [expletive] about my job status,” Gentry said. “I’m gonna work hard, and I’m gonna coach until the day they tell me I’m not the coach here anymore. It doesn’t matter. I don’t ever worry about that. That isn’t anything that I spend five seconds worrying about. My worry is how do I get the guys in the locker room to play at the level that I want them to. That’s where all my effort goes. It doesn’t go anywhere else.”

When asked if he ever imagined things would get this rough in New Orleans, Gentry said, “No, I didn’t expect this, no. But we have who we have. And the bottom line is, I don’t care who we have in the locker room. All I expect is them to do is compete and play hard, which they’ve done most of the night, and then we’ve got to try to find a way to execute. And then we’ve got to make some shots. We’ve got to knock down some shots. That’s the bottom line.

Here’s the latest from out West:

  • Clippers forward Marreese Speights was down on the franchise’s perceived culture after the team’s recent drubbing by the Warriors, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register relays. “That’s the scouting report when you play against the Clippers,” Speights said. “It’s always been, especially with the Warriors, you play against the Clippers, you hit them a couple of times, and their spirit is going to be down. That’s what happened, so we’ve just got to find a way to get over that hump.
  • Suns big man Dragan Bender is learning on the job during his first season in the league, a process he discussed with Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “I’m just growing each and every day, trying to learn,” Bender said. “I know this is my first year and I’m 19 years old and I know it’s going to be tough for me. I’m just going to come each and every day and compete. I’ll try to go against anybody on the court. It doesn’t matter who it is in front of me. I just try to help win the games. My job is to play defense and hit the open shots and deliver the ball at the right time.

Pelicans To Sign Reggie Williams

The Pelicans freed up a roster slot earlier today by waiving Anthony Brown and it appears the team will fill that opening by signing Reggie Williams, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). The details of the arrangement are unknown, but it is more than likely a minimum salary pact that includes little or no guaranteed salary.

The 30-year-old, who was waived by the Thunder during the preseason, last played in the NBA during the 2014/15 season, when he joined the Spurs during the middle of the campaign. He previously played with the Thunder, signing a 10-day contract with the team during the 2013/14 campaign. The forward only saw a total of 17 minutes of action and OKC didn’t re-sign him once the deal expired.

Williams has been playing for the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA D-League, appearing in 11 games and averaging 17.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 33.3 minutes per night. His shooting line is .462/.419/.727.

DeMarcus Cousins Expects To Remain With Kings

DeMarcus Cousins has long been a polarizing figure around the league with his copious technical fouls, reported run-ins with coaches and reputation for being a difficult locker room presence. The big man certainly has had his troubles reigning in his emotions during his time in the league, but there is no denying that he is an immensely talented player who could become a superstar in the right environment.

There has been much speculation where Cousins will end up when he hits unrestricted free agency after the 2017/18 campaign, or if he will be dealt by Sacramento prior to hitting the open market. Regardless of the chatter surrounding him, Cousins doesn’t expect to be traded in the near future, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes. “Unless you know something I don’t,” Cousins responded when asked if he thinks he’ll remain in a Kings uniform.

I talk to management a lot,” Cousins told Stein. “We’re on the same page. I’m not worried about it. To know that you’re wanted throughout the league … I’d be worried if nobody wanted me. Then I’d have a situation on my hands. But I’m happy where I am. I’m happy with this team. I’m in a great place.

Sources with knowledge of Sacramento’s thinking say that the Kings believe it’s still too early to seriously entertain the idea of trading Cousins, even with the clock ticking toward the final season of the four-year extension he inked back in 2013, Stein notes.  Interested teams continue to contend that the Kings will be facing the prospect another sub-40 win season prior to this season’s trade deadline and the team will ultimately feel compelled to part with Cousins before he enters his contract year, since keeping him beyond February could make it extremely difficult to receive anything close to equal value for the player, the scribe adds.

The center, who is averaging 28.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season, places the blame on himself for the team’s lackluster record thus far in 2016/17, Stein writes. “I can’t speak for the next man,” Cousins said. “I’m speaking for myself. What can I do better on a nightly basis? I know I can be better every night.”

Cousins is aware of his reputation around the league, but believes that he is misunderstood, Stein relays. “I’m comfortable in my skin,” Cousins told Stein. “So comfortable. I know who I am as a person. I stand by that. I’m a very prideful man. I’m at that point where I could care less what the next person says. I think I get better every year as a player, as a person, as a son, a father, all of that. I think I grow every year. That’s part of life. Absolutely.

Magic Open To Moving Mario Hezonja?

The Magic reportedly will look to the trade market in order to add some offense and Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) believes that evidence is starting to suggest that Orlando may be willing to move Mario Hezonja in the right deal.

Coach Frank Vogel said the team is considering a D-League assignment for Hezonja, as Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel relays (Twitter link). The small forward has only seen action in six of the team’s last 15 games.

In the limited minutes during his sophomore season, Hezonja has struggled to produce. He’s only scoring 12.2 points per 36 minutes and he’s shooting 30.6% from the field, a figure which includes a wintry 17.2% from behind the arc. His player efficiency rating is an abysmal 2.3.

The Magic want to win this season and Hezonja isn’t helping them right now. However, he’s still only 21 years old and rival teams may view GM Rob Hennigan’s hot seat as an opportunity to buy-low on a former top-5 pick. Trading Hezonja may be Orlando’s best option if it wants to bring back someone who can move the needle for this team.

Should the Magic deal Hezonja? If so, what should they look to get in return? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Police Nearing Arrest Of Matt Barnes

The NYPD are close to issuing an arrest warrant for Kings forward Matt Barnes for assaulting a woman during a brawl at a New York nightclub last weekend, Graham Rayman of the New York Daily News reports. Barnes and teammate DeMarcus Cousins have been under investigation for their role in the fight. Cousins will likely not be charged, a police source told Rayman.

“They’ve got enough to charge Barnes with an assault on a woman,” the source said. “It will probably be a misdemeanor assault on one of the females who was pushed or choked or sustained some sort of injury. She’s obviously cooperating.”

The police will continue to investigate members of Barnes’ entourage. “They looked at several people inside the club,” the source added. “There were some people struck by bottles but that didn’t seem to come from the players. There was a little bit of a mini free for all.”

On Thursday, two people—Jasmine Besiso, a 26-year-old woman, and her boyfriend, Myrone Powell, a 35-year-old man—filed a federal lawsuit against Barnes and Cousins, claiming they were assaulted by the NBA players. Besiso said she was sitting with her boyfriend at a table adjacent to Barnes’ and claims she witnessed Barnes get into an altercation with another woman. Besiso claims that Barnes then suddenly appeared near her and began choking her until she was unconscious.

Powell’s lawyer claims Cousins sucker-punched Powell in the head when he tried to intervene. Powell was knocked to the floor at which time other members of Barnes’ entourage hit and stomped him, his Lawyer claims. Rayman notes that Powell had two black eyes when he appeared at a press conference on Thursday.

There’s a TMZ video showing Barnes and Cousins gloating outside of the club that night. TMZ also published pictures of scratch marks to Barnes’ neck as well as additional photos of Barnes. The site published photos of his hands without any injuries that may suggest he didn’t punch anyone, Rayman notes. Cousins and Barnes have maintained that they were simply defending themselves; Barnes’ lawyers declined to comment today.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/9/16

Here are Friday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Nets have assigned Chris McCullough to their D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, according to a team press release. McCullough is averaging 19.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for Long Island this season.
  • The Bulls have assigned Jerian Grant, R.J. Hunter and Paul Zipser to the Windy City Bulls, according to a team press release.
  • The Hawks have recalled Mike Scott from the D-League, Chris Vivlamore of Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Atlanta doesn’t have its own affiliate, so Scott played his two games for the Delaware 87ers, the affiliate of the Sixers.
  • The Jazz have assigned Joel Bolomboy to their D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s website. This will be Bolomboy’s third assignment of the season.
  • The Lakers have recalled Ivica Zubac from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link).

Latest on Matt Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins

Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins have been sued in federal court by two people who claim they were assaulted by the players this week in a New York nightclub, relays A.J. Perez of USA Today. The plaintiffs contend they suffered “severe personal injuries” and had to be treated at a hospital after the incident around 3 a.m. Monday. The monetary amount of the suit has not been released, but it has to be more than $75K to be heard in federal court.

Police have obtained the security footage, but haven’t been able to discern much because of low lighting in the club, reports Carmichael Dave of CBS Sacramento. No charges have been filed against either player. Witnesses have said that Barnes was knocked to the ground by several people on his way to a VIP area, and Cousins came to his defense. Both players were escorted out of the club.

There’s more news on the altercation and its fallout:

  • Trouble has followed Barnes throughout his NBA career, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, who adds that it was a mistake for the Kings to reacquire him and assign him “the unofficial duties of mentoring Cousins.” The columnist says it gives the organization a bad image at a time when it is trying to focus on the positive news of opening a new arena. She cites Barnes’ long list of NBA suspensions, along with domestic violence charges that were later dropped, a misdemeanor arrest for resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer and last year’s fight with former Knicks coach Derek Fisher. Sacramento gave Barnes a two-year, $12MM deal to rejoin the team in July.
  • The Kings have hired an independent investigator to look into the incident, Voisin writes in the same piece. The NBA’s security staff is also conducting an investigation.
  • The fight may strengthen the argument of people who believe the Kings should trade Cousins, but it’s still a difficult decision, contends Chris Mannix of The Vertical. It’s hard to part with a player who is putting up 28.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per night, but the Kings have to decide how likely Cousins is to leave when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2018. His trade value will only decline after the February 23rd deadline passes, Mannix states.

Pelicans Waive Anthony Brown

The Pelicans have waived Anthony Brown, tweets Justin Verrier of ESPN.

The second-year swingman played nine games for New Orleans, putting up averages of 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per night. He was signed November 21st in an effort to improve the Pelicans’ depth in the backcourt.

The 24-year-old out of Stanford was selected by the Lakers with the 34th pick of the 2015 draft. He spent his rookie season in L.A., averaging 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 29 games, but was waived before the season started.

The move leaves New Orleans with just 14 players, so another roster move may be coming soon.

 

Donatas Motiejunas Re-Signs With Rockets

10:03am: Motiejunas has agreed to a new contract with Houston, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The deal will pay him $35MM over four years (Twitter link), but bonuses could push the value to $37MM, which is identical to the Nets’ offer sheet (Twitter link). Motiejunas will make a fully guaranteed $8.3MM this season, and the Rockets will have a team option on the rest of the deal each July for the next three years (Twitter link).

Also, the trade restrictions that would have come with a matched offer sheet are gone. Motiejunas can now be traded as soon as the season ends and does not have to give his consent to any deal, tweets The Vertical’s Bobby Marks. Motiejunas still must pass a physical before returning to the team (Twitter link). He was limited to 37 games because of back problems last season, but is reportedly healthy now.

9:21am: The Rockets are working on a new contract with Donatas Motiejunas, tweets ESPN’s Marc Stein. The team has pulled an offer sheet that it matched from Brooklyn, and the parties are trying to come up with mutually acceptable terms.

Motiejunas’ status has been in limbo since become a restricted free agent July 1st. He waited through the entire offseason and the first six weeks of the regular season without receiving an offer, then agreed to a four-year, $37MM contract with the Nets last week.

The Rockets announced on Monday that they were matching the deal, but excluded $6MM in incentives that the Nets offered. Motiejunas failed to show up for a team physical in the wake of his decision, with his agent, B.J. Armstrong, saying the 26-year-old forward wouldn’t report until the dispute over incentives was resolved. The Rockets responded by declaring that they wouldn’t withdraw their first refusal exercise notice, which would have made Motiejunas a restricted free agent again.

Houston’s front office had been hoping to get the Motiejunas situation resolved before November 23rd, which was three months before the trade deadline. If the team does work out a new contract with Motiejunas, it will have to hold onto him for at least the rest of the season. After March 1st, NBA rules prohibit Motiejunas from signing with another organization through the end of the season, even if the Rockets were to allow him back on the market.

 

 

It appears from this morning’s news that both sides have decided it is in their best interest not to prolong the situation much further, and Calvin Watkins of ESPN tweets that Brooklyn’s offer sheet should help with negotiations because there are now parameters to work with.

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