DeMarcus Cousins

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Curry, Suns, Warriors

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.”

Poll: DeMarcus Cousins’ Future

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.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Kyler’s Latest: Cousins, Westbrook, Griffin

A handful of big-name players, including Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap, and Blake Griffin, have been mentioned in trade rumors at some point this summer, but those guys almost certainly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. In addition to Butler, Millsap, and Griffin, stars like DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love are staying put with their current teams, despite being the subjects of frequent trade speculation.

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.

And-Ones: Krzyzewski, Griffin, Simmons, Patterson

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 Embiid and 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.

Kings Notes: Gay, McLemore, Cousins, Casspi

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.”

Western Notes: Cousins, Suns, Jazz, Wolves

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.

Kings Notes: Temple, Cousins, Rookies

The Kings are expecting Garrett Temple to be a major contributor this season, which is something the shooting guard is excited to embrace, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. “[The Kings] were adamant that they envision me being an integral part of the team and that was obviously great to hear, especially with my background. Being valued as a guy who can produce and will be relied on every night is something that I’ve been waiting for a long time,” Temple tells Kennedy. “Coach [Dave] Joerger believes in my abilities and that I can produce, so I’ll be on the court a good amount this year.”

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • DeMarcus Cousins remains critical of the Kings‘ draft this year, as Sean Cunningham of Sacramento’s ABC10 tweets. “I can’t control [who the team drafted]. I control what I can control. I don’t really understand it, but I do my job,” the big man said.
  • Cousins didn’t not attempt to influence the Kings‘ decision making this offseason, including whether or not they should bring back Rajon Rondo, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee tweets“I do my job and I let them do theirs,” he said.
  • Cousins has been working with Malachi Richardson out in Vegas and he’s very high on the No. 22 overall pick, Cunningham passes along (Twitter link).
  • Cousins is impressed with how Skal Labissiere played during Summer League and he loves the addition of Matt Barnes, as Cunningham passes along via Twitter. The Kings brought Barnes in on a two year, $12MM deal.

USA Basketball Finalizes 2016 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has finalized its 12-man roster for this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details. Team USA will head into the 2016 Olympics looking to win its third straight Gold medal in basketball. Barring any injuries or other unforeseen circumstances, the following 12 players will be representing America in Brazil this summer:

While Team USA’s roster features a bevy of All-Stars, former Olympians, and an MVP winner, many notable players declined invitations to play in Rio this summer. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are among those who withdrew from consideration.

Northwest Notes: Durant, Westbrook, Dixon

Free agency won’t be the only item on Kevin Durant‘s summer schedule, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The former MVP plans to be part of the U.S. Olympic team and may be the biggest name on a roster that has already lost Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Stein reports that Durant is considered a sure thing for the team, along with Klay Thompson and Paul George. They will join DeMarcus Cousins, whose participation was first reported by Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Kyrie Irving is considered almost certain to join the team, while officials are waiting to hear from LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The full 12-man roster is expected to be announced soon.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Westbrook is making a smart decision to skip the Summer Games, contends Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. With Rio de Janeiro beset by a financial crisis, reports of drug-resistant super bacteria on the beaches and possibly the Zika virus present, Tramel believes that presents too many risks for NBA players.
  • At age 38, Nazr Mohammed has probably played his last NBA game, according to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Mohammed signed with the Thunder in March, but appeared in just five games and served mostly as a mentor to younger players, in particular giving defensive tips to Enes Kanter. Mohammed said he won’t try to play again next season and would like to someday become a GM. “That’s my five-year, 10-year plan,” he said. “To one day run my own organization.”
  • Mike Dixon Jr. has received a passport from the nation of Georgia and will participate in the Blazers‘ free agent camp Monday, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Dixon was a senior at Memphis in 2014 and played in the Czech Republic this season.
  • The Nuggets are facing an unpredictable draft with three picks in the first round, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Dempsey lists shooting, shot blocking and toughness as Denver’s top needs and speculates that a significant roster shakeup could happen by draft night.

Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Cousins, Luwawu

Lakers combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, reiterated his desire to remain in Los Angeles for the long-term and expressed his excitement at the prospect of playing for new head coach Luke Walton, Shahan Ahmed of NBCLosAngeles.com relays. “With the Warriors, the biggest thing is ball movement,” Clarkson said. “Those guys are making the ball pop. Everyone is getting open shots, setting good screens. They set a lot of guard to guard screens, take advantage of switches. That style of play, I think it fits us well. We got a lot of guys that can put the ball on the floor and make plays for each other, and at the same time being able to play in a system where ball movement is the emphasis.

Here’s the latest out of the Pacific Division:

  • Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said that he is optimistic about the team’s direction under new coach Dave Joerger, adding that he is looking forward to less drama next season, Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 tweets.
  • The Clippers are parting ways with assistant coach for player development Dave Severns, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register relays (via Twitter).
  • French combo guard Timothe Luwawu has a workout scheduled with the Suns this weekend, international journalist David Pick tweets.
  • The Kings will hold a group workout on Friday and the attendees will include Ryan Anderson (Arizona), Robert Brown (UAB), Tyler Harris (Auburn), Stefan Jankovic (Hawaii), Retin Obasohan (Alabama) and Jamari Traylor (Kansas), the team announced.

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