George Karl has unofficially exiled Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman because Karl views her as a confidante to owner Vivek Ranadive, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. That’s created an extra plot twist with the Karl-DeMarcus Cousins saga because Ranadive has been loyal to Cousins and the mercurial center can’t help but notice the in-fighting among the staff, Amick adds. The Kings deny that Lieberman has Ranadive’s ear or that Karl has pushed her to the background, sources indicated to NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman, though Feldman notes that Amick is well connected and has reported out of Sacramento for many years.
In other news around the Pacific Division:
- Power forward Jeff Ayres is relieved he can settle into one place now that the Clippers have signed him for the remainder of the season, Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com reports. The power forward, who played under two 10-day contracts with the Clippers earlier this season, played two games for the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders after being traded from Boise before the Clippers came calling again. “I was telling somebody this morning, I’ve been living out of my suitcase – like really living out of a suitcase,” Ayres told Kavner.
- Lakers coach Byron Scott isn’t concerned about Jordan Clarkson‘s shooting slump, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. The second-year shooting guard has averaged 9.7 points, shot 29.5% from the field and made just two of 17 3-point attempts over the past three games. “I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it,” Scott told Oram and other members of the media. “You’re going to have stretches of this season, which is a long season, where you’re going to have some bad games.”
- Rookie shooting guard Devin Booker is being groomed as the Suns‘ go-to player at the end of games, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Interim head coach Earl Watson is putting the ball in his hands during those situations to see how he responds, as Watson relayed to Coro. “Devin has to learn how to finish games at the elbow like Kobe Bryant,” Watson said. “He knows that. We talked about that. That’s the progression of him finishing games.”