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.
The Kings are poised for trade deadline action after resolving their coaching situation, while in Phoenix, suitors are lining up for Goran Dragic. We’ll run through the latest news and notes from a busy Pacific Division here:
- DeMarcus Cousins praised new Kings coach George Karl to reporters at All-Star weekend in New York, saying he looked forward to working with him, tweets Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. The center has expressed exasperation with the team’s coaching turmoil.
- Karl was the right choice for the Kings, argues Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, who also lists Scott Brooks among the names of coaches who would have been candidates for the Sacramento job if the team hadn’t hired Karl.
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr was largely responsible for halting a proposed blockbuster last summer that would have sent Klay Thompson to the Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Kerr and Warriors team consultant Jerry West talked ownership out of making the swap, which would have also sent David Lee to Minnesota and Kevin Martin to Golden State, Deveney adds. A source close the talks told Deveney that the trade was a done deal until Kerr, who took the job with the expectation of coaching Thompson, and West convinced management not to do it.
- The jealousy that the Warriors worried might develop when they gave Thompson a more lucrative extension than Stephen Curry got a few years ago hasn’t developed, and Thompson doesn’t regret agreeing to contract terms that might give him less than the max, as Deveney writes in the same piece.
- West, who made his mark as an executive with the Lakers, is confident the Lakers wouldn’t ask him back, as he said on 95.7 The Game, as station host Matt Steinmetz relays (Twitter links). West’s son, Ryan, is the Lakers’ assistant scouting director, notes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
- Trading Dragic would be a wise move because the Suns are not true title contenders, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic argues. Bickley believes the Suns should be acquiring trade assets in order to make a future move to acquire a superstar talent rather than adding short-term pieces such as Ray Allen or Amar’e Stoudemire. If the Suns can add a first-round pick by swapping Dragic while concurrently breaking their point guard logjam, they should not hesitate, Bickley concludes.
Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.
DeMarcus Cousins and Tyrone Corbin both called the latest round of Kings coaching upheaval a “distraction,” as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays (Twitter link). Cousins released a statement through his agency saying that he hadn’t been consulted when the team fired Michael Malone and isn’t being consulted now, expressing hope for a quick resolution and support for George Karl should the team choose to hire him. Still, Cousins decried the public chatter of a coaching move while Corbin remains in place. Rudy Gay, who’s hinted at dissatisfaction with Corbin in the past, instead expressed admiration Tuesday for the job Corbin’s done under trying circumstances, as Jones also notes in his story.
While we wait to see how it all plays out in Sacramento, here’s more from around the league:
- A Nets source tells Windrem that no deal with the Hornets involving Lopez, Stephenson and Zeller was ever that close (Twitter link).
- There’s no guarantee that Ray Allen makes his decision on whether or not he’ll return to the NBA this season within 10 days of All-Star Weekend, as Jim Tanner, Allen’s agent, tells Chris Broussard of ESPN (Twitter link). It was rumored that the 39-year-old sharpshooter was going to make a choice regarding his future shortly after the All-Star break.
- The Hornets offered Lance Stephenson and Cody Zeller to the Nets last month and were ready to call the league office to finalize the trade, reports Robert Windrem of NetsDaily (All Twitter links). The sides were quite close to agreement, Windrem adds, and so close that people at the D-League Showcase, which was taking place at the time, thought it was a fait accompli, Grantland’s Zach Lowe tweets. It was the closest Brooklyn has come to trading Lopez, Joe Johnson or Deron Williams this year, according to the NetsDaily scribe.
- The Wolves sent the Hornets $344,462 in cash Tuesday in the Mo Williams trade, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows on his Wolves salary page (Twitter link). Minnesota created two trade exceptions in that deal, one worth Troy Daniels‘ $816,482 salary and another worth the $500K difference between the salaries for Williams and Gary Neal, Pincus tweets.
- That means the Wolves had to take Adreian Payne into one of their existing trade exceptions to make their trade with the Hawks work, and that’s just what Minnesota did. The Wolves absorbed Payne’s $1,855,320 salary into their $4,702,500 Corey Brewer exception, leaving the $6,308,193 Kevin Love exception untouched and reducing the Brewer exception to $2,847,180, as Pincus shows on the Basketball Insiders Wolves salary page.
- The Hawks would wind up with Minnesota’s second-round picks for both 2020 and 2021 if the lottery-protected 2017 first-rounder the Wolves gave up in the Payne trade doesn’t convey to Atlanta by 2019 at the latest, Pincus also reports on that page.
Charlie Adams contributed to this post.
DeMarcus Cousins made it clear that he didn’t want the Kings to fire former coach Michael Malone, but owner Vivek Ranadive told him that he had to do so because Malone clashed with GM Pete D’Alessandro and had missed a meeting, sources tell Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. Cousins asked the team at that point to hire Mark Jackson, but as the Kings instead decided to stick with Tyrone Corbin, team officials promised they would consult him in the future, Bucher also hears. The team now is reportedly close to a deal with Karl, and plenty seems up in the air. Here’s the latest from California’s capital city:
- Some close to Cousins weren’t sure if Karl’s personality and the intensity of Cousins would be a match, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote Monday that Cousins’ agents. Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana, have given their approval of Karl and were merely wary of the team’s swift coaching changes.
- Cousins wasn’t alone among Kings disenchanted with the way the team ousted Malone, Jones adds in the same piece. Rudy Gay recently said he felt “lost” on the court, according to Jones. Gay signed his extension with the Kings in large measure because, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports originally wrote, he wanted to play for former coach Michael Malone,
- Ranadive asked D’Alessandro to meet with Karl last week, Jones also writes in his piece. It seemed Monday, before the owner gave the GM the go-ahead to hire Karl if he wished, that Ranadive was hesitating while D’Alessandro pushed for a deal, though perhaps that wasn’t the case.
- The Kings are expected to hire Vance Walberg as an assistant coach should the team complete a deal with Karl, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group hears (Twitter link). Walberg, currently a Sixers assistant who previously worked under Karl on the Nuggets, has made his mark on offense, Haynes notes.