The Pelicans have 16 players under contract and it appears the final roster spot is between Lance Stephenson, whose contract is non-guaranteed, and Alonzo Gee, John Reid of The Times-Picayune notes on Twitter. New Orleans has until 5:00pm eastern time on Monday to make a decision.
C.J. Williams and Jaleel Cousins are expected to play for the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Mavericks, according to D-League Digest (Twitter link). Both players were waived by Dallas earlier today.
DeMarcus Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017/18 season and the Mavericks are expected make a hard push to sign the big man, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com tweets.
There are no lingering issues between the Kings and Ty Lawson in regards to Saturday’s missed flight, according to the point guard, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays (Twitterlinks). Lawson said it was a “personal” matter and added that he hadn’t been told that he would be fined for the incident.
Here’s more out of Sacramento:
Lawson’s teammates are supportive of him and they are ready to move past the incident, James Ham of Comcast Sportsnet writes. “It’s a family situation, this is a family and when you say family in the huddle, you don’t just mean it, you’ve got to show it,”new additionMatt Barnes said. “He’s going through stuff right now off the court. I reached out to him because I’ve been through everything off the court personally. We’ve been talking a lot lately and this is something we’re going to help him get through because he’s a very important member of this team. Family is most important for us and we realize that sometimes it’s bigger than basketball.”
The Kings are a work-in-progress and there was a noticeable disconnect with the team during Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Clippers, as Ham writes in a separate piece. Ham notes that the defensive effort wasn’t consistent and players were quick to take contested shots rather than find the open man. Despite the issues, DeMarcus Cousins remains optimistic about the team. “I think we took a step back tonight, but I think we’re on the right path, that’s the positive thing about it,” Cousins said. “We’re going to be as good as we decide to be.”
Cousins continues to stress that it will take time for the Kings to come together, as Ham passes along in that same piece. “Patience would be very important,” Cousins said. “Especially for me. But it’s going to be a process. It’s a new system. A new group of guys. I mean, it’s tough for me. I can be honest, it’s tough for me. It’s going to be a process.”
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told Sam Amick of USA Today that he is confident the DeMarcus Cousins situation can be resolved. Cousins has repeatedly expressed unhappiness with the direction of the franchise and had frequent clashes with former coach George Karl last season. Ranadive thinks the hiring of Dave Joerger as the new coach will help smooth over the bitterness. “When I first bought the team I had to make one decision, which was ‘Do I give [Cousins] a contract [extension] or not [in September 2013?’ and I made the decision to give it to him,” the owner said. “I feel like that was the right decision. But other than that, I haven’t really made any basketball decisions, because after that I hired a GM and a coach and everyone else. But I expect that [GM] Vlade [Divac] will make the right calls. I think DeMarcus truly looks up to Vlade. I think he truly likes the coach.”
Ranadive also addressed the status of Rudy Gay, who recently announced that he plans to opt out of his contract next summer. “He’s a professional,” Ranadive said. “It’s his last year, and I’m sure he’s going to go out there and do his best and we’ll see. But I have confidence that Vlade and him and everyone else will work it out.”
There’s more out of the Western Conference:
Free agent addition Raymond Felton said the rumors of discontent in the Clippers‘ locker room are untrue, relays Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. The 12-year veteran, who came over from the Mavericks in July, said stories of personality clashes involving Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are greatly exaggerated. “You hear a lot of negative stuff through the years about this team when you’re on other teams,” Felton said. “But being here, this team is actually closer than you think. That surprised me. To see that, and add the couple of things I feel like I can add personality-wise off the court, I think we’re going to be all right.”
Mario Chalmers, who played for the Grizzlies last season before tearing his Achilles in March, is making progress in his comeback, posts Brian Windhorst on ESPN Now. Chalmers said he is about a month away from being ready to return and several teams have been in contact with him.
Changes in the collective bargaining agreement could be the biggest obstacle to Kevin Durant re-signing with the Warriors next summer, writes Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com. While it would be a virtual certainty under the current CBA, a lower salary cap or changes to non-Bird Rights could complicate Golden State’s effort to keep Durant.
New Kings head coach Dave Joerger aims to change the culture in Sacramento, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “I think it’s what we hope to have on a nightly basis,” Joerger said. “A mindset of being physical, being active. Flying around, being a good teammate, each guy up and down the line and helping each other.”
The Kings signedMatt Barnes this offseason and DeMarcus Cousins is happy to have the veteran on his team, Jones adds in the same piece. “He’s a true competitor,” Cousins said. “He leaves it all out there on the floor. I think he’s a great role model for the younger guys on how to approach a game on a nightly basis.”
The Kings are losing leverage the longer they hold onto DeMarcus Cousins, contends Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The All-Star center has two seasons left on his current deal, making nearly $17MM for the upcoming season and more than $18MM in 2017/18. Powell believes teams will be less likely to trade for Cousins as his free agency date nears, and Sacramento will have a hard time keeping him if he stays until the end of his contract. The writer isn’t a fan of the Kings’ offseason moves, as they made little effort to re-sign league assist leader Rajon Rondo, drafted two unproven big men, put Rudy Gay on the trading block and signed 30-year-old Arron Afflalo.
There’s more out of the Pacific Division:
The Kings made a mistake by letting Seth Curry get away, writes A.J. Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today. Even though Curry has only appeared in 48 NBA games, he showed promise at the end of last season, averaging 16.4 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 three-pointers per night over his final seven games. Curry signed a two-year, $6MM deal with the Mavericks in July.
Devin Booker‘s great rookie season has created a logjam in the Suns‘ backcourt, according to Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight both see themselves as lead guards, and Booker has earned starters’ minutes with his performance in 2015/16. Bledsoe and Knight are signed for the next three seasons and Booker is under team control for the next four years, so Phoenix has time to work out the situation if all three players are willing to share minutes. Otherwise, Feldman suggests it’s a good situation for a trade.
Things aren’t perfect for the Warriors, even after winning 73 games and signing former MVP Kevin Durant, cautions Monte Poole of CSNBayArea. Coach Steve Kerr is concerned about the defensive dropoff after losing centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. Golden State added Zaza Pachulia in free agency to help compensate for their departure. “The thing that’s different will be a lack of rim protection,” Kerr said. “We had great rim protection from Bogut and Ezeli, and both those guys are gone. Zaza’s a very good defender, but he’s more of a positional guy than a shot blocker.”
DeMarcus Cousins has been a popular topic of trade speculation for multiple seasons, which comes as no surprise. Cousins is one of the NBA’s more talented big men, but his Kings haven’t won more than 33 games in a season during the six years he has been in Sacramento, and he hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the team’s head coaches.
With another new coach – Dave Joerger – taking over for 2016/17, the Kings and Cousins have agreed to take a “fresh-start approach” to their relationship, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who noted this week that Cousins liked the hiring of Joerger. As Kyler details, Sacramento has been turning away any inquiries from rival teams on Cousins, and expects to play out the ’16/17 season with Cousins as the cornerstone of the roster.
Still, Cousins is only under contract with the Kings for two more years, and if the team doesn’t become a playoff contender soon, that summer of 2018 could begin looming larger and larger. As Zach Harper of CBSSports.com writes, many people around the NBA believe Cousins will leave Sacramento when his contract expires, and think the Kings need to seriously consider moving him at some point before then.
“They’re fooling themselves if they think he’s sticking around,” one league executive said to Harper. “The good news for them is his value will always be high. There isn’t a point of no return in which you’re not getting high value for him. Teams will bid against each other in the trade market. Maybe [Cousins] doesn’t go for the biggest money in free agency, but you’d love to have that card to play.”
As dysfunctional a franchise as Sacramento has been for the last several years, Joerger is a well-respected coach, and the team made some solid moves this offseason, inking veteran free agents Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, and Anthony Tolliver to multiyear deals, and adding three first-round prospects in Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, and Skal Labissiere. If the Kings start playing well, Cousins trade rumors figure to remain on the back burner for the foreseeable future. But if the team struggles out of the gate, the rumor mill figures to be more active than ever.
What do you think Cousins’ future holds? Will the Kings ultimately decide to trade him? Will he leave in two years as a free agent? Or will Cousins remain in Sacramento long-term after a rocky first few years with the franchise? Vote in our poll, and weigh in below in our comment section with your thoughts on the All-Star big man.
While the gist of Kyler’s tidbits on each of those six players is the same – they’re not being traded unless things change drastically for the team or player – each situation is a little different, so let’s round up some of Kyler’s latest info on those stars…
The Kings and Cousins have agreed to take a “fresh-start approach” to their union, according to Kyler, who notes that the big man likes the hiring of coach Dave Joerger. While Cousins’ potential 2018 free agency will be a factor down the road, Sacramento is turning away incoming inquiries and will likely play out the 2016/17 season with Cousins as the team’s cornerstorne before considering any franchise-altering decisions.
Like the Kings with Cousins, the Thunder would have to play extremely poorly in the first half for the team to consider any major in-season change involving Westbrook. Sources tell Kyler that there is almost no scenario in which Oklahoma City explores moving the star point guard during the season, though the team will of course be keeping a close eye on how its roster looks in the post-Kevin Durant era.
Per Kyler, sources close to Griffin “have been adamant” that he intends to re-sign with the Clippers once his current contract is up — that could happen next summer, since the star forward has an early termination option. Doc Rivers is confident Griffin will remain in Los Angeles for the long term and has no interest in engaging in trade talks, says Kyler.
The Hawks seriously explored a Millsap trade in July, but those talks came to an end after the team lost Al Horford. Sources tell Kyler that Millsap has been assured he won’t be dealt anytime soon, though the veteran’s potential 2017 free agency looms as a possible concern if Atlanta struggles out of the gate.
Mike Krzyzewski desperately wants to win his final game as coach of Team USA, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Krzyzewski demonstrated he is putting victory over player egos by pulling DeMarcus Cousins from the starting lineup in Friday’s semifinal against Spain and inserting defensive specialist DeAndre Jordan. Voisin also suggests that the closeness of many of this year’s game displays the need for a different philosophy in picking players. Krzyzewski, whose team will face Serbia in Sunday’s gold medal game, has an 82-1 record and two gold medals since taking over as Team USA coach in 2005. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will assume control of the team after the Olympics are done.
There’s more tonight from around the world of basketball:
Former D-League All-Star Eric Griffin, who will reportedly play in Israel next season, has a buyout clause that allows him to sign with an NBA team, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Griffin was recently cleared of an attempted murder charge in Florida, and his agent contends the case cost him a chance to play in the summer league.
Ben Simmons is the rookie most likely to make an impact in the NBA from the beginning, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. Blancarte picks the No. 1 draft choice because of his combination of court vision, size, athleticism and opportunity. Simmons is expected to take control of the Sixers’ offense right away. Others on Blancarte’s list, in order, are the Timberwolves‘ Kris Dunn, the Sixers‘ Joel Embiidand Dario Saric and the Pelicans‘ Buddy Hield.
After being claimed off waivers by the Kings, one of Lamar Patterson’s concerns was whether he could bring his pet alligator, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. His mother had been watching the creature while he played for the Hawks because he couldn’t keep it as a pet in Georgia. Jones found that California only allows pet gators if a special permit is obtained.
The Heat could be interested in a Rudy Gay trade if the Kings are willing to wait until after December 15th, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. That’s the date when the free agents that Miami added to its roster this offseason are eligible to be moved. Gay’s salary would require the Heat to send back about $13.3MM, which means point guard Goran Dragic would probably have to be included, and Miami doesn’t seem inclined to part with him. By waiting until mid-December, Winderman notes, the Heat will have a better feeling for how much Chris Bosh will be able to contribute and whether Justise Winslow will have to spend more time at power forward, which would create a greater need to have Gay on the roster.
There’s more tonight out of Sacramento:
The Kings almost certainly won’t negotiate a rookie contract extension with shooting guard Ben McLemore, contends Bobby Marks of The Vertical. McLemore, who was drafted in 2013, is the only Sacramento player eligible for the extension before this year’s October 31st deadline, but Marks says the Kings have been trying to trade him for more than a year. McLemore averaged 7.8 points in 68 games last season and will have a $1oMM cap hold next offseason.
DeMarcus Cousins will become eligible for a contract extension on September 30th, Marks notes in the same piece. The Kings’ all-star center still has two seasons and more than $35MM left on his current deal, but he can agree to an extension at the end of September because it will be three full years from his when the contract was signed. If he takes an extension, Cousins would be limited to 7.5% raises from his $18,063,850 salary in 2017/18, so it’s more likely that he waits for free agency.
Omri Casspi sees improved camaraderie as a key to ending Sacramento’s 10-year run of missing the playoffs, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Casspi is touring Israel this week with Gay and a group of former NBA players and celebrities. “We’ve added some good guys, some good quality players and quality individuals to our locker room, which is important, I think,” Casspi said. “The great teams in the NBA have great locker rooms.Just in general we need to start making strides, try to make the make playoffs. With a new coaching staff, we need to make a big stride forward.”
The Kings are refusing to listen to trade offers for DeMarcus Cousins, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Sacramento is aware of the Celtics’ interest in the All-Star center and has received an offer from the Cavaliers. However, it looks as if the Kings are determined to keep Cousins, who has two seasons remaining on his contract. Since the season ended, Cousins has embarked on a hot yoga program and has dropped about 25 pounds.
There’s more from the Western Conference:
The Suns don’t plan a major move even though they still have more than $13MM in cap space available and a roster spot to fill, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix is more than $3MM below the minimum team payroll of $84.73MM, which could help facilitate trades during the season. “I’d be surprised if we spent a lot of that cap space now or over the summertime,” said GM Ryan McDonough. “More likely, we’ll preserve most, if not all of it, and go into the season and look at either in-season signings or probably more likely in-season trades that are lopsided where we take back more money than we send out. There are a decent amount of advantages to operating as an under-the-cap team in terms of player aggregation and trades and things like that.”
The Jazz appear to have accelerated their development with a series of offseason moves, writes Brian Mahoney of SI.com. Armed with the 12th pick in the first round, Utah swung a three-team deal to acquire George Hill from the Pacers. The Jazz also signed veteran free agents Joe Johnson and traded for Boris Diaw. “There were a couple of things that kind of universally rang true,” said GM Dennis Lindsey. “Experience, physicality, shooting, improved passing, a little more depth at the guard position, a little more depth at the wing position, a little more depth—and not just depth, but experienced depth—at the big man position as well. I think as much as anything, it was just a natural step.”
The Timberwolves hope to add another wing player and a point guard before the season starts, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Minnesota’s front office held a meeting today to discuss personnel.
Pistons executive Brian Wright will become the new assistant GM for the Spurs, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.