The Kings have quickly become a mess of a team since former coach Mike Malone was fired, Robert Windrem of Nets Daily writes. Sacramento’s problems include DeMarcus Cousins, who was reportedly upset with the dismissal of Malone, not playing up to par, especially on the defensive end, and the players finding out about Tyrone Corbin being signed as coach for the rest of the season from the media, which didn’t sit well with them at all, Windrem notes.
Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:
- The Wolves‘ 2013 draft night trade of Trey Burke for Shabazz Muhammad is beginning to pay off thanks to Muhammad’s marked improvement this season, Andy Greder of The Pioneer Press writes. “We’re talking a guy that has been inserted into the starting lineup and is becoming a guy that is a major factor in what we are trying to accomplish,” president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said.
- One of the Wolves‘ recent additions, Troy Daniels, is starting to pay dividends thanks to his deft outside touch, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “He is going to have opportunities,” Saunders said. “He brings something that we lack, perimeter shooting, the ability to stretch the floor a little bit.”
- The main reason that the Lakers hired Byron Scott as their coach this past summer was because of his relationship with Kobe Bryant, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. Few other coaches would be have been able to get Bryant to agree to skipping practices, taking games off, and the minutes restriction that Kobe is currently under, Markazi adds.
Tyrone Corbin says the Kings have lifted the interim tag from his job title, as he told reporters from The Associated Press and other outlets today, essentially confirming an earlier report that he’s signed a new deal to be the team’s head coach for the rest of the season. However, the Kings didn’t use the term “interim” when they announced earlier this month Corbin would replace the fired Michael Malone.
Here’s more out of Sacramento:
- DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t looked happy since the Kings fired Malone, and the Kings have asked Corbin to coach “essentially 14 angry men,” argues Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (All five Twitter links here).
- The deciding factor for why Brady Heslip chose to pass on signing with Banvit of Turkey was that his agent had reached out to a number of NBA GMs and had received enough positive feedback about his client to warrant remaining in the U.S., Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports (Twitter link). The Kings and Clippers have reportedly held interest in adding the sharpshooter to their NBA rosters.
- The Kings neglected to inform their players that Corbin would coach the team for the rest of the season, something that may not sit well with the team’s star, Cousins, DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News writes. “I didn’t know,” Cousins said. “I didn’t know officially until [Monday] night, either. That’s when a lot of us found out.”
- If Sacramento hopes to keep Cousins for the long term, the team will have to show marked improvement, Prince adds. Contrary to some of his past statements, Cousins said that he believes that the responsibility for turning around the franchise rests with the players, not with the head coach, Prince notes. “Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s on us no matter who the head guy is on the bench,” Cousins said. “At the end of the day, we go out there and play the games. It’s time for us to stop looking for excuses, stop trying to make excuses. We’ve got to man up and play basketball. We know what we need to do on a nightly basis. We know we need to defend and we know we need to share the ball and come out and play hard. I believe with those three things that 70% of the job is done. It doesn’t matter, we’ve got to go out and do our jobs.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Kings’ head coaching job appears to be George Karl‘s if he wants it, and it seems like he does. Still, the job would be Chris Mullin‘s if he wanted to take it, an opposing GM tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), and Mullin is indeed a possibility, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Tyrone Corbin is expected to take the job on an interim basis once the Kings make their decision to fire Michael Malone official. Here’s more on a time of uncertainty in California’s capital:
- Ranadive finds the prospect of Mullin coaching the team “very intriguing,” sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
- It was a mutual parting of ways for Jent and the Kings, D’Alessandro told reporters, including Jones (Twitter link).
- Jent won’t be on the staff going forward, Corbin confirmed to reporters, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee notes (on Twitter).
- Cousins said the news of Malone’s departure, which he heard via Twitter, evoked an emotional reaction among the players and called the day’s rainy weather a fitting backdrop, as Amick and Jones relay (Twitter links).
- DeMarcus Cousins said the Kings didn’t consult him about the apparent coaching change, but he trusts the team to work it all out, as he told reporters today, including USA Today’s Sam Amick (Twitter link).
- The Kings and assistant coach Chris Jent are expected to part ways, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who indicates that the team plans to make its decision to fire Malone official on Tuesday.
- Sacramento’s front office didn’t believe Jent, who served last season as the team’s top assistant, was the right man for the job, so they interviewed Alvin Gentry and Kurt Rambis for the position, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes in a full piece. Malone suspected at the time that the team was trying to hire his successor, and so he pursued Corbin, who landed the assistant coaching job and has been loyal to Malone. Gentry was uncomfortable with the notion that the Kings were setting him up as a head-coach-in-waiting, sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who says the Kings deny that they had that in mind.
- There’s more than $4MM that Malone is still to receive under the terms of his contract with the Kings, Wojnarowski writes in the same piece.
- The falling out between Malone and Kings management began late last season when Malone wanted the team to add a point guard and the front office instead signed Royce White to a pair of 10-day contracts and pushed Malone to play him, as Wojnarowski details.
- GM Pete D’Alessandro was merely the messenger in many cases as he passed along orders from Ranadive that Malone didn’t like, though D’Alessandro and Malone never formed any mutual trust, according to Wojnarowski.
- People around the team believe the Kings were waiting for an opportunity to fire Malone and used the team’s struggles of late as an excuse to do so, in spite of the absence of Cousins during the team’s 2-7 stretch over the last nine games, Wojnarowski hears.
- The presence of Malone was a major reason why Rudy Gay signed his three-year extension with the team last month, Wojnarowski also writes.
Improvements in the performance and temperament of DeMarcus Cousins and a flawed roster unfit for the style Kings management wants to play are among the reasons SB Nation’s Tom Ziller believes the Kings erred in their apparent decision to fire coach Michael Malone. Cousins was one of Malone’s most enthusiastic supporters, notes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). Carl Landry has had high praise for Malone, too, according to Jones, who adds that Malone’s players have almost universally held the coach in high esteem (Twitter links). While we wait to see what happens next in Sacramento, here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- Isaiah Thomas has fired agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports for reasons both personal and professional, sources tell Darren Heitner of the Sports Agent Blog (Twitter link). The agency confirmed the move, as Heitner notes via Twitter. The Suns guard intends to pick a new agent before the holidays, Heitner adds. Miller negotiated a new four-year, $27MM deal this summer for Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 draft.
- JaVale McGee will miss a “significant” amount of time after aggravating a muscle near the tibia in which he suffered a stress fracture that kept him out most of last season, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said Sunday to reporters, including Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I heard six weeks at one point,” Shaw said. “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s anywhere close to coming back right now.”
- Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger downplayed the notion that the team would make changes in spite of rumors indicating that the Cavs have their eyes on Tayshaun Prince and Kosta Koufos, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes. The Grizzlies are reportedly interested in Ray Allen, though there’s no indication that he would consider signing with Memphis, Tillery points out.
We heard yesterday that DeMarcus Cousins has been out for the past two weeks with a case of viral meningitis and could miss another week or two as he recovers. Kings head coach Michael Malone said today that Cousins is out “indefinitely,” reports Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter). After a 9-5 start, Sacramento has lost four of five without its emerging superstar. Let’s take a look at what else is going around the Association:
- The Hornets‘ playoff appearance last season automatically triggered a team option for the third year of head coach Steve Clifford‘s contract, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Clifford, hired in May 2013, signed a three-year, $6MM deal with Charlotte that is now officially fully guaranteed through next season.
- While the disappointing Knicks might not be ready to turn their focus toward the draft, team president Phil Jackson also said that he doesn’t plan to make any in-season moves that might jeopardize the team’s long-term flexibility, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com. “I’m not going to make movement for movement’s sake,” Jackson said. “There is sometimes addition by subtraction but I don’t see anybody that doesn’t want to be part of this organization, doesn’t want to play with his teammates, doesn’t want to learn… What we have to do is protect our future… If we evaluate a player and see he’s going to be a long-term player who is going to fit in our organization, we’ll do that.”
- Duke center Jahlil Okafor remains the top prospect in the latest update to Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, while high school senior Jaylen Brown, a small forward, is No. 1 on Givony’s 2016 mock draft.
- Robert Covington has quickly worked his way into Brett Brown‘s rotation in Philadelphia, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers added Covington in mid-November and he has averaged 9.5 points in 11 games since arriving in Philly. However, the Tennessee State product has scored 63 points and played significant minutes in Philadelphia’s last three contests, two of which the success-starved Sixers have won.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports learned that Kings star DeMarcus Cousins has been out for the last five games with a case of viral meningitis. Cousins continues to recover but he’ll be out for at least another seven to 10 days. More from the Pacific Division..
- The L.A. D-Fenders announced (via Twitter) that Jordan Clarkson has been recalled by the Lakers in time for tonight’s tilt against the Pelicans. Clarkson’s weekend stint with the D-Fenders was his third of the season.
- Over the summer, Mychal Thompson said he’d have to talk his son Klay Thompson “down off the ledge” if a rumored deal sending him to the Timberwolves came to fruition. Earlier today, the younger Thompson said that his dad was kind of overstating things. “He exaggerates things. I’m sure you guys know that,” the Warriors star said, according to Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter).
- Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob made some interesting comments about ex-coach Mark Jackson last week but he took the time to publicly apologize for them today, as Leung writes. Lacob believes that Jackson will “succeed again in this business.”
Kobe Bryant has been criticized for the Lakers‘ current woes because of his two-year, $48.5MM contract extension, which, despite Bryant granting the team a small discount, is looked at as a huge reason that Los Angeles is likely headed for the draft lottery for a second straight year, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. Speaking about his contract, Bryant said, “Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.”
Here’s more from out west:
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the discount his star Dirk Nowitzki accepted when re-signing with the team made a huge impact in helping shape their roster, and Cuban took a not so subtle poke at Bryant, Holmes adds. “To me, it’s not about money, it’s about winning,” Cuban said. “Different players have different attitudes. Could a player make $24 million in the NBA’s current punitive financial climate [as Bryant does this season] and legitimately say they’re interested in winning? Yeah, of course, as long as you can convince everybody else that you need to come play for the minimum.”
- Bryant also weighed in on the fans who think players should take less so franchises can build winning teams, Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “It’s the popular thing to do — the player takes less, blah blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money, because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know that the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it either.”
- DeMarcus Cousins credits his increased maturity this season to his time spent with Team USA this past summer, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. The Kings‘ center said, “It [playing in the FIBA tournament] helped out a lot. I’d say the biggest thing is learning how to sacrifice for your team. Doing the small things to help the team. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away. I mean, I played with an incredible group of guys, a very talented group of guys. So, me playing the way I usually play, it wasn’t really needed for the team.”
Austin Rivers believes this coming season will be his breakout year, John Reid of the Times Picayune writes. The Pelicans guard said, “I was constantly working the entire summer. I gained 10 pounds and I’ve got stronger in my upper body. This is my year. But I think at the end of the day, I think we all now understand we can only control what we can control. At the end of the day, we let all of the guys in the front office do their jobs. We just stick to what we do. We play.” Rivers has career averages of 7.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG. His career slash line is .390/.346/.601.
Here’s more from the west:
- DeMarcus Cousins tells Chris Kudialis of The Sacramento Bee that he hopes Team USA experience for him and Rudy Gay will pay dividends for the Kings this coming season. “My thing is just taking in as much as I can from this experience and taking it back home,” Cousins said. “I’m being led by some of the best players in the league here, and I want to use everything I learn to make myself better.”
- With the Warriors signing GM Bob Myers to an extension recently, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders looks back at Myers’ biggest moves since arriving in Golden State.
- Gustavo Ayon prefers to play in the NBA next season, but the offers he has received from European teams have been more lucrative to this point, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Stein believes that Ayon, whom the Spurs recently expressed interest in, will head overseas unless the offers improve. Ayon played in 26 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 4.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.1 APG.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
Here are some miscellaneous news and notes to pass along this evening:
- Earlier today, ESPN reported that Kings center DeMarcus Cousins injured his right knee during Team USA practice today. Fortunately, an MRI reveled no structural damage, and Cousins is now listed as day-to-day, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
- USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo described Kevin Durant‘s decision to drop out of Team USA as a “contractual situation” in which “he had no choice,” notes Erik Horne of NewsOK, who doesn’t think that those comments are consistent with Durant’s official statement for withdrawing. Last week, the Thunder star mentioned an inability to fulfill his responsibilities from a “time and energy standpoint” as a reason for his departure.
- Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski was among many who were caught off-guard by Durant’s decision to leave the national team, notes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
- DeJuan Blair is eager to build on a productive playoff series against the Spurs this past May as he suits up for the Wizards in 2014/15, writes Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. “I was very excited when I (learned I was traded from Dallas to Washington). It was like a dream come true…Last year, I saw what type of team they had. The youth, the big men coming up, the ingredients around the team. And I think I’ll be a great addition.”
- Based on what he’s seen from Andre Drummond so far, Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau spoke glowingly about how Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will be an ideal coach to help the 21-year-old big man reach his potential (piece from Keith Langlois of Pistons.com).
Jason Terry may still be under contract with the Kings for one more season, but he isn’t ruling out an eventual return to the Mavericks, as both Tim MacMahon (via Twitter) and Bryan Gutierrez of ESPN Dallas note. The former Dallas guard was a guest on 103.3 FM’s Fitzimmons and Friedo Show and expressed his desire for a reunion.
“I won’t rule out returning back to Dallas. It’s my home and my heart…I bleed blue. I’m a Maverick.” Terry added that championships are his driving force as he finishes out his career. “I want to get back on a team that has a realistic shot to win a championship, and I think Dallas is doing those types of things.
Here’s more out of out of the Western Conference this evening:
- Terry also commented on the current state of the Kings and his plans for the near future. “(They’re) in transition right now. For me, at this point in my career, I want championships…I wouldn’t say it’s rebuilding, but a building process…DeMarcus Cousins (is) a huge talent. (His attitude is) a little shaky. Rudy Gay (is) not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around…I think there will be some more conversations with my agent and the Sacramento Kings to get a better picture of where they are headed and what they’re trying to accomplish.”
- An increasing number of executives around the league expect the Timberwolves will trade Kevin Love before the start of the season, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Warriors and Wolves have resumed their trade talks involving Love after having hit a stalemate earlier, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Minnesota believes Golden State will eventually relent and be willing to trade Klay Thompson in a deal for Love, and that the Cavaliers will come around to including Andrew Wiggins in their offers, sources tell Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.
- The Mavericks are still looking for another point guard and have spoken with free agent Mo Williams, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports; team president Donnie Nelson doesn’t seem too optimistic about their chances of landing him, notes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star Telegram (Twitter link).
- Nelson later acknowledged that the team won’t have any money to make a play for Carlos Boozer (Twitter link).
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.