A few trade rumors have surrounded DeMarcus Cousins of late, and while the noise surrounding the All-Star isn’t at a high level, he’d be the league’s most prominent trade candidate, if he could indeed be considered a trade candidate. Cousins has complained publicly and privately about Sacramento’s fast-paced system, but the Kings have no plans to move him, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacrameno Bee. Vlade Divac, the Kings front office chief who’s apparently enchanted with the talent of the former fifth overall pick, wants Cousins’ tenure in Sacramento to endure, as Voisin details.
“DeMarcus is here,” Divac said forcefully, according to Voisin. “It’s a process of growing up. And I really believe that, behind that shield of his, he is a really good guy. I want to create a healthy environment where we trust each other, and I want to see him in a situation when he’s winning games. What, five losing seasons? Winning changes everything. Like I told DeMarcus, he played so great for coach George [Karl]. It will only get better when we get him more help.”
Voisin’s latest column has more insight on the seemingly ever-changing dynamics of the Kings front office and roster, and we’ll hit the highlights here:
- Owner Vivek Ranadive has been less of a hands-on presence in recent weeks, allowing Divac and coach George Karl to perform their respective duties without undue influence, Voisin writes.
- Divac replaced GM Pete D’Alessandro as head of the basketball operations, but the subsequent departure of former adviser Chris Mullin for the head coaching job at St. John’s has helped restore some power to D’Alessandro, according to Voisin. Some perceived Mullin, who was eminently powerful within the organization, as the team’s de facto GM, Voisin explains.
- It’s uncertain whether D’Alessandro will remain with the Kings now that he reports to Divac, but Divac, in his comments to Voisin, seemed to make an appeal of sorts to the GM. “When I first came here,” Divac said of joining the front office in February, “I just observed everything and listened. I wasn’t sure [the front office] was going to work. But Vivek trusted me, trusted coach. I called everyone into a meeting and said, ‘If you want to be here, forget the past. You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. We need everyone’s help.’ Pete can be a big part of this. And these last two weeks, I see tremendous progress. We are getting along, functioning. Slowly we are fitting in together.”
- Divac will prioritize the acquisition of a “lanky frontcourt defender” this summer, followed by shooting, playmakers and depth, Voisin writes.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough admits the team had no intention of reshaping its roster as much as it did this season, but while he’s disappointed with the way this year has gone, he feels the Suns are still better off than they were two years ago, when he took over, as he tells Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
“We’ve tried to do something that’s not easy to do,” McDonough said. “We tried to turn over the roster with talented, young players who have some potential but probably aren’t ready to win yet at the highest levels. But we also tried to stay competitive in a brutal Western Conference. Usually, teams try to do one or the other. They load up on veteran guys and trade draft picks and go all in or they completely blow up and gut the team and try to acquire and play a bunch of young guys.”
Phoenix will look to achieve more roster balance, among other goals, this summer, McDonough added. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The sense is that Wayne Ellington will largely favor the Lakers in free agency this year, but he’s mindful that the market is uncertain for both himself and the team, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links), who’s identified mutual interest between the sides. Ellington backed up his end of that, referencing coach Byron Scott and GM Mitch Kupchak during his exit interview with the media Tuesday when he said, “I flat out told coach and Mitch I want to be back,” Medina notes.
- Jeremy Lin seemed lukewarm to the idea of returning to the Lakers during his exit interview, saying that he has “definitely not ruled out” the possibility and that the Lakers wouldn’t be a “last resort.” He said that losing his starting job in December “hurt,” but that his respect for Scott has grown throughout the season. Medina (separate piece), Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles (Twitter link), Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding (Twitter link) and Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (Twitter link) have the details.
- Trade rumors are partly to blame for the sour mood DeMarcus Cousins has been in of late, but Kings executive Vlade Divac, who’s in charge of the front office, is in awe of Cousins’ talent, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Voisin advises Cousins to get away from the noise now that the season is ending.
The Kings have a budding superstar in DeMarcus Cousins, but coach George Karl admits that no one on Sacramento’s roster would be off-limits for the right trade, as Bill Herenda of CSNBayArea.com relays. Obviously, the Kings aren’t looking to trade their best player, but Karl’s comments jibe with what a person familiar with the coach’s thinking told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in February about Sacramento’s willingness to make deals.
“I’ve had some great players and I’ve never had one player that I have said is untradeable,” Karl said, as Herenda notes. “You always got to be ready for the possibility of a great trade that could come your way. I know I respect him [Cousins] a tremendous amount … I think our give and take and our communication has been almost on a daily basis … until we can really get to a special place together, I think we’ve got to continue to communicate, what he wants and what I want.”
With the offseason beginning in two days for Sacramento, there’s more on the Kings amid the latest from the Pacific Division:
- Aaron Bruski of NBCSports.com has begun hearing more speculation about Cousins trades among sources, but Bruski cautions that there’s nothing concrete or in the works (Twitter links).
- Carlos Boozer moved to the bench about a month into the regular season and he hasn’t been the sort of contributor the Lakers imagined when they claimed him off amnesty waivers this summer, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Coach Byron Scott is nonetheless pleased with the way he “hasn’t rocked the boat” since his benching, Medina notes, adding that it nonetheless seems unlikely that the power forward, a free agent this summer, will return.
- Spencer Hawes admits he isn’t having the sort of season he envisioned when he joined the Clippers on a four-year deal for the full value of the mid-level exception this past summer, observes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been bad,” he said of his performance. “There’s no other way to put it. You just can’t let it defeat you when you go through the low stretches.”
Two coaching changes and more losing for the Kings have thrown DeMarcus Cousins for a loop this year, but he’s determined to learn from adversity, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post details.
“It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus,” Cousins said of this season. “We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year.”
George Karl‘s up-tempo system doesn’t really fit Cousins but the center will keep an open mind about it, Lee writes. Cousins is in the first year of a four-year max extension. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- DeAndre Jordan said he loves the city of New York but isn’t thinking about his free agency this summer, as he told reporters, including Marc Berman of the New York Post, after the Clippers beat the Knicks on Wednesday.
- Amar’e Stoudemire‘s said his interest in joining the Suns after his buyout with the Knicks was “extremely high,” according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “But I wanted to compete for a championship this year,” Stoudemire added. “That’s one reason why I didn’t choose the Spurs, because I knew it’d be a letdown for all my Phoenix Suns fans. I couldn’t do it. It was a tough decision, but I wanted to win this year.”
- Wesley Johnson is finds it frustrating to be hitting free agency for a third year in a row, observes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The Lakers have a general affection for him, and Johnson has been considering a new deal with the team this summer, in spite of L.A.’s hesitance to give him more than a one-year deal the past two offseasons, as Bresnahan also relays. “It’s one of those things where you definitely don’t want to jump ship when something’s going bad,” Johnson said of the Lakers. I actually want to be a part of it to see if we can get back on the right foot. We’ll see what happens this offseason, see what direction they’re going.”
George Karl acknowledged that he and DeMarcus Cousins started their relationship under trying circumstances and that it will take a while for them to truly build camaraderie, asthe Kings coach detailed in an interview with TNT’s David Aldridge for his NBA.com Morning Tip column.
“I’ve had some really good, serious talks about him,” Karl said of Cousins. “I think it’s hard, because of the skepticism of his agent and all that. It’s a process right now. I’m not saying the trust is with capital letters yet. But I think it’s on the page. That’s all I can ask for. I hope he understands that the process is not going to work coming in the middle of the season, taking a team that was basically a possession, defensive-minded team, and turning it into a running team. I think we’re getting a good pace, but we’re not doing it that well.”
Karl arrived in Sacramento amid Cousins’ frustration with the team’s frequent coaching turnover, and a person familiar with Karl’s thinking apparently told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck that the Kings are open to trading Cousins this summer. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Ronnie Price was a revelation for the Lakers this season, becoming a starter after signing a non-guaranteed deal for the minimum salary in the offseason, and he’d like to come back to the team even if he’d only be a third-stringer, as he told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Price, who seems doubtful to play again this season because of a bone spur in his right elbow, will be a free agent this summer.
- The Warriors have recalled James Michael McAdoo from the D-League, the team announced. The rookie scored 25 points in 29 minutes for Golden State’s affiliate Sunday the day after the Warriors sent him on assignment.
- Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob shared his thoughts on Draymond Green, David Lee and more with Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, as we passed along earlier today.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak insists the team won’t make building a team to win in the short-term around Kobe Bryant a priority at the expense of the future, and Bryant is on board with that, as the Lakers star told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
“It’s a balance of both,” Bryant said. “You always want to set the franchise up for the long term. Mitch and I are on the same page. What he said in the interview is not something that we haven’t talked about before. It’s nothing different. You don’t want to compromise the future of the franchise for one season. You try to balance that.”
There’s more on the Lakers amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:
- Teams around the league are making plans to try to trade for DeMarcus Cousins in case he and George Karl don’t get along, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said on ESPN radio Sunday and as ESPN colleague Marc Stein notes within his weekly power rankings. Cousins and Karl have nonetheless been complimentary of one another since the Kings put them together last month. Still, a source familiar with Karl’s thinking recently told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck that Sacramento wouldn’t rule out trading Cousins.
- Lakers co-owner executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss is believed to be among those who like Rajon Rondo, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding writes as he argues that the Lakers and other teams shouldn’t pay a premium for the point guard.
- The Lakers chose to sign Wayne Ellington instead of Hassan Whiteside after the big man auditioned for the team this past summer, Whiteside said to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com.
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr has learned how better to navigate leadership boundaries since Mike D’Antoni‘s belief that Kerr wanted his job helped prompt D’Antoni to leave the Suns during Kerr’s tenure as GM in Phoenix, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
The Kings wouldn’t rule out trading DeMarcus Cousins or anyone else on their roster at the trade deadline, a person with insight into coach George Karl‘s thinking told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Karl, who also worked with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro when they were with the Nuggets, has a level of control over personnel decisions in Sacramento, that source said to Beck. Karl would love to acquire Ty Lawson or any of the other members of the 2012/13 Nuggets, the last team Karl coached, Beck also hears.
There were conflicting reports about whether the Celtics were pursuing Cousins prior to the deadline, but most of the chatter surrounding the star center had to do with his frustration regarding Sacramento’s coaching situation. Cousins was an advocate of former coach Michael Malone and expressed frustration about the upheaval that saw Tyrone Corbin and now Karl succeed Malone this season. Still, Cousins has indicated that he’s enthusiastic about playing for Karl, one of nine NBA coaches with more than 1,000 career wins. The 24-year-old center is in the first season of a four-year max extension.
Tension surrounds Lawson and the Nuggets, and GM Tim Connelly recently exhorted the 27-year-old point guard to “grow up” after he was late returning from the All-Star break. The Kings were among the teams with apparent interest, but while the Nuggets reportedly received calls from numerous would-be suitors, they were turning them away. The team did engage in exploratory talks with the Celtics, several sources told Grantland’s Zach Lowe, but it appeared as the deadline drew near that Denver hadn’t seriously considered any deal. Lawson makes more than $12.404MM next season and in excess of $13.213MM in 2016/17, the final season of his contract.
No trades can take place before the end of the season, since the deadline has passed. Teams are eligible to trade players as soon as the regular season is over if they’re not in the playoffs, but typically moves don’t happen until June.
WEDNESDAY, 9:24am: Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald hears “strong word” that nothing has happened regarding the Celtics and Cousins.
MONDAY, 3:12pm: The Celtics are rumored to be trying to pry DeMarcus Cousins from the Kings, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, but the Kings have given no indication that Cousins is available, Smith cautions. Boston would appear to be basing any such effort on the notion that Cousins, who’s been frustrated with Sacramento’s coaching changes, and new Kings coach George Karl won’t get along, Smith indicates. However, Cousins has expressed enthusiasm about working with Karl.
The C’s have a deep reserve of draft picks and the sizable expiring contracts of Marcus Thornton, Tayshaun Prince and Brandon Bass, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has made it clear for months that he’d like to package his assets for a star. However, stars don’t come easily, and Cousins, who played in his first All-Star Game on Sunday, is having his finest season to date in the first season of a four-year maximum-salary extension.
A more realistic target at the center position for the Celtics would be Enes Kanter, in whom Smith suggests the Celtics also have interest. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com heard from a source last week who said Boston wasn’t expected to make a run at Kanter (Twitter link), though Blakely wrote in a full piece this weekend that the C’s were expected to “keep tabs” on the big man who’s requested a trade from the Jazz. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.
Reporters make a habit of emptying their notebooks as the deadline draws near, when rumors that would normally make headlines wind up buried beneath the deluge of news. We already passed along highlights from a jam-packed piece that Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports authored tonight, and we’ll do the same with a dispatch from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who’s also heard plenty:
- Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group provides some clarity on Lee, saying that the Warriors have always been willing to trade him for assets of value but that the team almost certainly won’t find what it’s looking for on the market. Golden State isn’t likely to simply give away the veteran, a favorite of co-owner Joe Lacob, unless it’s forced to in the offseason, Kawakami adds (All Twitter links).
- Teams around the league expect the Thunder to trade Reggie Jackson before Thursday’s 2pm Central time trade deadline, Berger writes, indicating that they believe tax concerns would be the catalyst for Oklahoma City to make a deal.
- Sacramento is intent on making an upgrade at the deadline in an effort to please DeMarcus Cousins, sources tell Berger, who identifies Arron Afflalo as the team’s No. 1 target. The Kings are dangling Nik Stauskas to the Nuggets as they seek Afflalo, to the puzzlement of some executives from other teams, Berger hears. The Kings continue to dangle Stauskas to other teams as well, according to Berger.
- The Nuggets are in “full-on firesale mode,” and, notwithstanding Sacramento’s focus on Afflalo, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler are the players on Denver’s roster who are drawing the most interest from other teams, Berger writes.
- Berger indicates that the Warriors are trying to trade David Lee, which conflicts with an earlier report that the team would like to keep him through the season to avoid disrupting chemistry. The CBSSports.com columnist also includes Kevin Martin on a list of players that teams are trying to trade, but Flip Saunders is reportedly showing little interest in doing so. Martin would be destined for a buyout if the Wolves don’t trade him, Berger hears.
- Milwaukee has fielded offers for Brandon Knight, but the Bucks aren’t biting, sources tell Berger.
- The Wizards are more likely to sign a free agent who would fill their desire for backcourt help than to make a trade, the CBSSports.com scribe hears.
- The Clippers are still the front-runners for Tayshaun Prince should he and the Celtics do a buyout deal, according to Berger, who adds that Boston is trying to trade Brandon Bass.
LeBron James being elected as the vice president of the NBPA means that the union will have another strong voice at the negotiating table, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. A person close to James said that LeBron felt compelled to serve in this role at a crucial and exciting time for the league and its players, Zillgitt notes. James had considered running for NBPA president in the past, the post Chris Paul now occupies, but James had decided that he did not have the necessary free time to devote that the job required, the USA Today scribe adds.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is glad to finally have some stability regarding Sacramento’s coaching situation now that George Karl has been inked to a four-year deal to coach the team, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a coach longer than a year and half maybe,” Cousins said. “It feels good to know I have one for the long haul.“
- Gino Pilato of D-League Digest ran down how the NBA affiliate players have performed thus far in the D-League this season. A number of the players whom Pilato lists could be in line for a 10-day contract from an NBA team this season.
- With the Chinese Basketball Association’s regular season completed, a number of notable players will now be eligible to return to the NBA. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders runs down some of the more intriguing names who could be difference-makers for teams down the stretch, including Will Bynum, Michael Beasley, Earl Clark, Jordan Crawford, and Al Harrington.