DeMarcus Cousins

Pacific Notes: Hibbert, Crawford, Cousins, Evans

Lakers trade acquisition Roy Hibbert is excited to play for coach Byron Scott, and while he cautioned that he has nothing against Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the center made it clear as he spoke with TNT’s David Aldridge that his preference this summer was to end up on a team with a former player as coach. Hibbert also expressed his unwavering sentiment for Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird, even though Bird strongly signaled to the media this spring that he was ready to move on from the former All-Star.
Larry was very up front with me,” Hibbert said. “He said before the press conference that I can’t promise you minutes next year, and they wanted to go in a different direction. So it wasn’t like what happened came out of nowhere, what he said. I’ll always say that Larry changed my life. I was on the phone with my agent in the office during the [2009] draft process and Larry said ‘If Roy’s there at 17, we’ll take him.’ That meant a lot to me. I know that things change and the NBA is ‘What have you done for me lately?,’ but I could never say a bad thing about Larry or the Pacers organization.”
We had more on Hibbert’s old team earlier today, and now here’s the latest on his new team’s division rivals:

Kings Rumors: Rondo, Cousins, Mbah a Moute

Rajon Rondo had wanted to play with DeMarcus Cousins for a while, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, who hears from the point guard about just how enticing the chance to play with his fellow former Kentucky Wildcat is.

“What made me comfortable is them having the best big man in the game,” Rondo said of Cousins. “It was a pretty easy decision. I think he’s definitely an MVP candidate and I look forward to playing with him and helping him grow as a player.”

Of course, plenty of rumors suggest Cousins isn’t long for Sacramento, but Rondo told Kennedy that he thinks much of the reported acrimony between Cousins and coach George Karl has been overblown. Rondo had plenty of kind words for the Mavericks despite his turmoil in Dallas, but he makes it clear he’s excited about Sacramento. There’s more on Rondo amid the latest from the California capital:

  • Rondo’s one-year contract with the Kings is worth $9.5MM, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Michael Malone said he felt “awful” for Tyrone Corbin, who guided a struggling Kings team after Sacramento fired Malone as coach in December last year, but the new Nuggets coach also told Grantland’s Zach Lowe that the Kings’ losing ways under Corbin “validated the job that my staff and I did.”
  • Malone also dished to Lowe on his relationship with Cousins. “That relationship was constant work. Constant. But we came to a deep respect,” Malone said in part.
  • The Kings had signed Luc Mbah a Moute for $1.55MM, an above-minimum salary, before voiding his contract Thursday because he failed his physical, Pincus tweets.
  • Kings coach George Karl said he and management wanted to re-sign Derrick Williams but simply couldn’t afford him, as the coach tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. A source close to Karl who spoke to Berman nonetheless impugned Williams’ basketball IQ and said Karl tore into the forward on one occasion for his lack of rebounding. Williams left for a two-year, $8.8MM deal with the Knicks. “It was more of fitting the finances and making the finances work,’’ Karl said. “There are other pieces we wanted and we couldn’t have enough money for him.’’

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Karl, Cousins, Dawson

The Lakers have seemed to lag behind in the adoption of advanced metrics, so they’re creating a new front office position designed to serve as a liaison between the coaching staff and number crunchers in management, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register details. Assistant coach Clay Moser is expected to transition into that role, Oram reports, noting that the Lakers underwhelmed LaMarcus Aldridge with the basketball side of their presentation while he was reportedly “floored in a good way” by the Rockets’ analytics and on-court projections. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • George Karl was known to have reached out to DeMarcus Cousins on several occasions over the past few months, but before their brief encounter at summer league this week, Karl hadn’t spoken with him for quite some time, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Still, Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac wants everyone on the same page by training camp, and the plan is for Karl and Cousins to have a more extensive face-to-face meeting before that, as Amick details.
  • Kings management won’t let Karl hire son Coby Karl as an assistant coach, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times hears (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers are in line to save money on No. 56 pick Branden Dawson even though they gave up $630K to trade for his rights, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks observes (Twitter links). He’ll make the rookie minimum salary of $525,093 this season, but if the Clips had instead signed an undrafted free agent for the minimum, it would have counted as $947,276 for luxury tax purposes, as Marks points out, adding that the Clippers are in line to pay about $1MM less in tax penalties as a result.

Western Notes: Cousins, Levien, Montero

Kings coach George Karl admits talking hypothetical DeMarcus Cousins trades “behind closed doors,” but Karl tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that he rejects the notion that he was actively trying to trade the center.  “As a coach, in meetings every year and maybe four or five times a year, you talk about what-ifs,” Karl said. “And 99% of what-ifs never happen. But isn’t it our job to talk about what-ifs? Does this make us better? Does this get us in a better place? That’s our job. There was never a discussion in that area even close to happening, in my opinion. … Never in the whole time of this experience did I ever think that I wasn’t going to coach Cuz.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • Jason Levien has become an unofficial adviser to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. Levien was formerly the CEO of the Grizzlies, as well as a former Sacramento assistant GM, Howard-Cooper notes.
  • The Wolves were able to create a traded player exception worth $5MM as a result of dealing Chase Budinger to the Pacers, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link).
  • Danny Green said that LaMarcus Aldridge contacted him during the free agent process to pick his brain about the Spurs, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News tweets. Green also noted that the possibility of playing alongside Aldridge factored heavily into his decision to re-sign with the Spurs, McDonald adds.
  • The Trail Blazersdeal with Luis Montero is a three year arrangement with the first season partially guaranteed, according to former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter links).
  • The Thunder have removed forward Steve Novak from the trading block, Chris Mannix of SI.com relays. OKC was reportedly seeking financial relief and was willing to flip Novak in exchange for a future draft pick.
  • Wilson Chandler‘s contract renegotiation and extension with the Nuggets will pay him $10.4MM in 2015/16, $11.2MM for 2016/17, $12.0MM in 2017/18, and $12.8MM during the final season, Pincus notes (Twitter links).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Young, Karl

The Suns have an outmoded local TV deal that squeezes their revenue, and they struggle to draw when they don’t make the playoffs, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports, suggesting that’s behind owner Robert Sarver’s aggressive push to get the team back to the postseason. Phoenix came up short in its strong pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge, but Sarver insists to Lowe that the Tyson Chandler deal wasn’t made solely in an effort to woo Aldridge. The cap-clearing Marcus Morris trade was a signal of the team’s interest in Aldridge, but Phoenix also made it out of a desire to open playing time for other wing players, T.J. Warren in particular, Lowe writes.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers swingman Nick Young has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but the team currently has no plans to deal the scorer, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register tweets. According to Oram, the Lakers had shopped Young in an effort to clear some quick cap room, but no enticing offers materialized.
  • Despite the rocky start to their relationship, Kings coach George Karl believes he and center DeMarcus Cousins can coexist in Sacramento, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports relays. “I just said hello to him this afternoon,” Karl told Spears. “I don’t think it’s something we have to rush through. You got two guys that are very frustrated with losing, two guys that are somewhat stubborn and two guys that love to compete. Sometimes, that doesn’t work the first time you hang around. But you have to take your time to make it work. I’m very confident to make it work.
  • During his offseason dealings, Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac tried to sell players on the changing culture of the Sacramento organization, Spears adds. When asked what his sales pitch was to free agents, Divac said, “We are changing the culture and we want to make a team that’s going to have the same energy that we had during my time because Sacramento needs that. They believe in it and I believe it. We really put good talent over there and now it’s up to Coach to put it together.
  • Rajon Rondo believes that he can rebuild his free agent value this season with the Kings, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I’ve been faced with challenges my whole life,” said Rondo. “A lot of people didn’t expect me to come this far in the NBA. I have no doubts about what my talents can do and what I can bring to the team and I’m looking forward to putting my work in and getting the job done.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Jordan, Love, Pierce, Cousins

DeAndre Jordan often returns the purchases he makes, friends tell Ramona Shelburne and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, who note that he’s on his third agent in seven years. Thus, perhaps the Mavs might have known that Jordan wasn’t quite in the bag until he put pen to paper. They triumphantly celebrated when it seemed Jordan was on his way to Dallas, as Shelburne and MacMahon detail.

“I hear this scream in the backyard and it’s [Mavs owner Mark] Cuban, walking inside with his hands up like, ‘We got him!'” Chandler Parsons said. “It was unbelievable. I was so hyped, because he really is a franchise-changing type player. They don’t come around very often. It was awesome. His mom was crying. I think Cuban might have even cried.”

Parsons called Jordan’s decision soon thereafter to instead return to the Clippers “very unethical and disrespectful,” as the Mavs small forward said to the ESPN scribes. Still, the Jordan saga isn’t the only storyline that’s changed during NBA free agency. A few more are amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers reportedly had a meeting planned with Kevin Love before he recommitted to the Cavs, but the purple-and-gold were never under the impression they would get that visit, a Lakers source told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link).
  • Paul Pierce doesn’t have a team option on the final season of his three-year deal with the Clippers, as originally reported, but he does have a partial guarantee of $1,096,080 on the final season, which is worth a total of $3,679,840, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The deal is the most the Clips could have given him using their taxpayer’s mid-level exception.
  • Wesley Johnson‘s contract with the Clippers covers two years, instead of just one as originally reported, Pincus reports (Twitter link). Both seasons are at the minimum salary, and the second season is a player option, according to Pincus.
  • DeMarcus Cousins expressed his enthusiasm this weekend for playing alongside Rajon Rondo, notes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Cousins reportedly wants a trade to the Lakers, but Rondo has committed to sign with the Kings.
  • The Suns had been eyeing Sonny Weems for more than a year, but Phoenix’s two-year, $5.8MM offer shocked him, and when he jumped on it, he turned down a fully guaranteed two-year, $6MM offer from Barcelona, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. The Phoenix deal reportedly includes a team option on year two, but the Suns think he can become the first guard off their bench, Coro writes. The Spurs also had a level of interest in the 29-year-old swingman, according to Coro.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Suns, Kings

Austin Rivers did not take a “family discount” in agreeing to return to the Clippers and play for his father, Doc RiversA. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reports. The two-year, $6.4MM deal, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), is comparable to what Rivers would have likely seen in terms of annual salary if he signed with another team, a league executive told Blakely.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • By spending his summer in Phoenix instead of returning to his hometown of Birmingham, Eric Bledsoe is showing a full offseason commitment to the Suns, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. Bledsoe has been working out at US Airways Center, has attended draft workouts and was part of the Suns’ recruiting group that pitched to LaMarcus Aldridge, Coro points out. Bledsoe’s name swirled in trade rumors when the team agreed to re-sign Brandon Knight, but Suns coach Jeff Hornacek later denied any talks. Bledsoe is set to make $13.5MM next season in the second year of a five-year, $70MM deal.
  • Vlade Divac, Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations, acknowledged that the relationship between coach George Karl and center DeMarcus Cousins isn’t exactly great, but, while appearing on The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio, Divac said he expects both to be with Sacramento this season (story relayed by ESPN.com). “Well, I’ll be honest with you, it’s not pretty right now, but I’m focused on bringing a better team this year and I think I did a pretty good job in this free agency and now I’m going to be focused on the two of them,” Divac said.

Knicks, Lakers Consider Trading For David Lee

1:32pm: The Lakers would be more likely to try to trade for Lee if they miss on their top three free agent targets than they would be to revisit trade talks with the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

1:27pm: The Knicks have had discussions about reacquiring David Lee, reports Howard Beck of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether those talks involved the Warriors or were internal. Lee played the first five years of his career in New York and still owns a home in the area, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Golden State and representatives for Lee, a Mark Bartelstein client, have reportedly agreed to work together to find a trade taker for the power forward and his salary of nearly $15.494MM for this coming season as the Warriors seek to lessen their tax burden.

New York is prioritizing free agents, but Lee is a possibility, according to Beck. The Knicks missed out on Greg Monroe, who’s off to the Bucks. They’re meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Robin Lopez, though they seem long shots for both Aldridge and Jordan.

New York could absorb Lee into cap space, allowing the Warriors to move off his entire salary. That would be a boon for Golden State, which figures to pay the tax even if Lee isn’t around but would save on extra penalties if his salary is off the books. Lee fell out of the rotation this past season but has twice been an All-Star.

Kings Reach Out To John Calipari

11:39am: The Kings deny Wojnarowski’s report, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

11:02am: Calipari, as he’s done in the past, took to Twitter to say that he’s not looking for another job and that the Kings haven’t offered him one. He acknowledged talking to Ranadive about Cousins and No. 6 overall pick Willie Cauley-Stein, but wrote in all capital letters, “I will be at Kentucky.” (All five Twitter links here).

10:16am: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and other members of his ownership group have spoken with Kentucky coach John Calipari to feel out his interest in coaching the team and running its front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. It would require a multiyear contract worth at least $10MM a year to lure him, Wojnarowski adds, but Sacramento has had lawyers examine the contract of coach George Karl to see if he can be fired with cause for reportedly speaking to other teams to see if he can arrange DeMarcus Cousins a trade, as Wojnarowski details. It’s a long shot that the Kings would be able to terminate Karl in such a way that would allow them to recoup the nearly $10MM in guaranteed money left on his deal, which runs another three years.

Ranadive is going after Calipari in part to see if he can convince Cousins to change his mind about his desire to be traded to the Lakers, according to Wojnarowski, a desire that has reportedly come about amid Karl’s apparent quest to see him traded. Calipari coached Cousins during the center’s lone season at Kentucky.

Hiring Calipari would represent yet another shift for the Kings under Ranadive, who’ve already employed three coaches and two front office chiefs since he took control of the franchise two years ago. League officials and confidants of the owner have tried to prevail upon him to stop his frequent shakeups, sources tell Wojnarowski. Ranadive replaced former GM Pete D’Alessandro atop the front office structure this spring with vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac, but executives and agents grew frustrated in dealing with Divac at draft time, as the newly minted executive is unfamiliar with salary cap and collective bargaining agreement rules, Wojnarowski hears. Ranadive considered hiring NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe to lead the front office before turning to Divac, Wojnarowski reports.

Calipari has consistently maintained he’s satisfied at Kentucky even as he continues to listen to overtures from the NBA. He had a level of interest in the Pelicans this spring, but New Orleans didn’t want him to lead its entire basketball operation, according to Wojnarowski.

Pacific Notes: Williams, Lakers, Looney

The Kings have expressed interest in bringing forward Derrick Williams back next season, though the organization’s first priority is to upgrade the point guard position, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. Sacramento is reportedly interested in the SunsEric Bledsoe, and free agent Rodney Stuckey, as well has been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Rajon Rondo. Williams can become a restricted free agent this summer if the Kings tender him a qualifying offer worth $4,045,894. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite the reports that Kings coach George Karl wants center DeMarcus Cousins traded, Karl is excited to see what a pairing of Cousins and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein can do, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays (Twitter links). Karl believes the duo will mesh well together because each has a different skillset on defense, Jones adds.
  • The Lakers are expected to try and add a rim-protecting big man, a 3-and-D capable small forward, frontcourt depth, as well as a veteran point guard this summer, Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders writes. Davis lists LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe, Robin Lopez, Jimmy Butler, and Wayne Ellington as potential free agent targets for the Lakers.
  • Steve Kerr doesn’t believe that the Warriors winning a championship his first season as coach will increase the pressure on him, but instead, it will allow him to continue to just be himself, Tim Kawakami of The Bay Area News Group writes. “It’s funny you say that because as an observer and an analyst for TNT and even as a player, I always felt that when a coach won a championship, it freed him up to be himself,” Kerr responded when asked if his approach would change next season. “Coaching in the NBA is such a fleeting thing; guys get fired left and right, and so a lot of guys coach out of fear. And they try to hang onto their jobs. I always felt like the ones who won titles were freed up to just do it their way and to not worry about anything.
  • Todd Ramasar, the agent for Warriors draftee Kevon Looney, denied the reports that his client underwent surgery on his hip last year, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. Looney believes that he can continue to play without surgery but will undergo a medical evaluation to determine if a procedure is necessary, Leung adds. “I had suffered a hip injury when I first got to UCLA, and I played the whole season with it,” Looney said. “I went through the [draft] workouts with it. I still can play now. I can play just fine. I can walk good. I’m not hurting right now. I’m looking to the doctors to tell me what they really want to do, but this is an injury that I had, and I can actually play with, and I can actually do well with it.
  • Though the Warriors declined to extend Justin Holiday a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the team may look to re-sign him for less than the $1.147MM tender it would have required to make Holiday a restricted free agent, Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle tweets.

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