DeMarcus Cousins

Western Notes: Cousins, Trades, Thunder

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t believe he’s in the best situation with the Kings, Ken Berger of CBS Sports writes. “I prefer to be in a perfect situation,” Cousins deadpanned, “but that’ll never happen.” The center described the perfect situation as one where everyone is happy before reiterating that it just won’t happen. “There’s nothing in life that’s perfect,” the 25-year-old said. Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2017/18 campaign.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Oklahoma City has a pair of trade exceptions that are set to expire on Tuesday,  Erik Horne of The Oklahoman notes in a piece that analyzes the Thunder’s trade assets. The team has a $2.2MM trade exception from last year’s Reggie Jackson trade and a trade exception worth roughly $861K from last season’s Ish Smith deal.
  • If the Rockets look to make drastic changes, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer would be realistic trade targets for Oklahoma City, Horne opines in the same piece. The scribe also names Courtney Lee and P.J. Tucker among the players on the market who would be good fits for the Thunder.
  • The Thunder shouldn’t be making trades to try to bridge the gap between them and Golden State, and they especially shouldn’t consider dealing away Serge Ibaka, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman argues.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Griffin, Cousins, Watson

The fast pace of the Kings under George Karl has perturbed players and management, and concerns exist over the effect of the two-time cancer survivor’s health on his ability to coach, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. It’s hard for players to hear Karl, who endured neck and throat cancer while with the Nuggets, over the din of NBA arenas, Amick writes. Owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly hired Karl in part to run an up-tempo offense, so it’s odd to see pace become an issue. Still, the Kings have apparently committed to keeping Karl, in spite of reports that they planned to fire him.

“If they let George do his job and coach this team like he’s done in the past, they will get what they are both always seeking, respectability as a team and organization,” Karl’s agent, Warren Legarie, said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

See more on the always-entertaining Kings amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Blake Griffin has been suspended for four games without pay and fined him the equivalent of a fifth game check for reportedly hitting assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, an incident that left Griffin with a broken right hand, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reported and the Clippers shortly thereafter confirmed (Twitter links). It’s officially a team suspension, Amick reports (Twitter link), so the Clippers won’t reap any tax savings as they would have if it were an NBA suspension. The team suspension also allows the Clippers some leeway in determining whether it’ll start before or after Griffin is fully recovered from his hand injury, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times points out (on Twitter), though the team has no plan to do so, Woike relays (via Twitter).
  • The Kings still aren’t seriously considering any DeMarcus Cousins trade before the deadline, but they’re expected to decide soon whether to use the months after the deadline to “lay the groundwork” for a later trade of the star big man, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. That process could take a while, Deveney writes, pointing to Minnesota’s months-long effort to find a suitable Kevin Love deal in 2014.
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson spent only one season with the Spurs organization, as a D-League coach last year, but San Antonio’s philosophy has a clear influence on the style he’s bringing to Phoenix, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

2016 NBA All-Star Game Reserves Announced

The NBA has officially announced the reserves for the 2016 All-Star game, which will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sunday, February 14th. The names of the reserves were first reported by Carron J. Phillips of The News Journal and confirmed by Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (All four Twitter links). The starters for both conferences were announced last week, with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard voted to tip off the exhibition in the West and LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Kyle Lowry slated to represent the East.

While the starters are selected by the fans, reserves are chosen by the coaches in each conference, though they are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. Listed below are the reserves for the 2016 NBA All-Star game for each conference:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Who was the biggest surprise among the All-Star reserves announced tonight? Share your thoughts with a comment.

Western Notes: Karl, Davis, Cotton

Kings coach George Karl admits that the comment he made at the end of last season that any player on the roster was tradeable didn’t get his relationship with DeMarcus Cousins off to a great start, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. “I just can’t stand summer talk,” Karl said. “I mean, free agency, all the money, teams think they saved their organization by signing this guy or making this trade. You have all these obnoxious predictions and it doesn’t mean anything. We got off into that trade innuendo, and I think it hurt Cuz [Cousins]. And I think I made a mistake in making the comment that no player is untradeable. That’s something I might believe, but I shouldn’t have said it. So everything kind of snowballed in the wrong way at the end of last year.”

My belief was, I never, ever thought I was not going to coach Cuz this year,” Karl continued. “Did you have philosophical discussions? We talk about everything. We meet for 2-3 hours every day and talk about every scenario in the world. And I think Cuz worked his tail off this summer. [Team executive] Vlade [Divac] and I got together with Cuz in the summertime. Vlade’s done a good job of being a good bridge between he and I.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Baron Davis, who agreed to join the NBA D-League earlier today, worked out for the Mavericks last Saturday when the team was in Los Angeles, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), but coach Rick Carlisle laughed off the report, as SB Nation’s Tim Cato relays (on Twitter).
  • Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff continues to learn while on the job, something that is vital if he hopes to remain in the position on a long-term basis, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com writes. “Every day you learn something,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s the same as assistant coach and the same as a head coach. You should continue to learn. You watch so much basketball you should see something somewhere from somebody different all the time. I hope I continue to learn. If I don’t then I know everything.
  • Bryce Cotton, whom the Suns waived prior to the leaguewide contract guarantee date, has rejoined the Austin Spurs in the NBA D-League, tweets Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Butler, Barnes, Ezeli

Rajon Rondo has earned the complete trust of DeMarcus Cousins, which is no easy task, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Rondo, who’s on a one-year, $9.5MM contract, is “the most unselfish player I’ve ever played with,” Cousins told Aldridge. Rondo said to Aldridge that he signed with the Kings in part to mentor the center, adding that he’s wanted to play with Cousins for the past four or five years. It’s all cast against the backdrop of a Sacramento team that’s just two games out of a playoff spot, and the presence of Caron Butler has had much to do with the team’s improvement, Rondo contends. The Kings reportedly promised to trade Butler last month, but he’s still with the team. See more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors assistant GM Kirk Lacob, the son of co-owner Joe Lacob, hinted at the team’s willingness to pay whatever it takes to re-sign Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli in restricted free agency this summer as he spoke in a recent radio appearance on 95.7 FM The Game’s “NBA This Week” show. Host Matt Steinmetz has the transcription“Both those guys are a part of the core,” Lacob said in part. “Hopefully we’ll have this team for a number of years to come. If it costs a lot of money, it’s going to cost a lot of money. It probably will. A lot of our players have come up in free agency the last year or two and if they continue to perform we’re going to continue to pay them. We’re 34-2 [now 35-2], we’re trying to get a second championship here. There’s a lot of room for improvement of course, but there’s a lot of power to continuity.”
  • Numbers suggest that Julius Randle is on track to have a career similar to that of Drew Gooden, a sign that he’s not on the path to stardom the Lakers hoped for him, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece co-authored with Chad Ford. D’Angelo Russell is the only one among the Lakers’ young players who has a strong chance to become an above-average starter, Pelton contends.
  • The Lakers have recalled Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). They went down to the D-Fenders together on Friday. Black averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in two D-League games this weekend, while Kelly posted averages of 26.0 points and 6.5 boards a night.

Western Notes: Aldridge, Wolves, Kings

LaMarcus Aldridge averaged more than 20 points per game in each of his final five seasons with the Blazers, yet even though he is scoring only 15.8 points per game for the Spurs, San Antonio is delighted with how the offseason acquisition has started to gel with his new team, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

“It’s difficult to do in your first year,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, per McDonald. “A lot of guys take a whole year to get used to us. He’s been remarkable in catching on this quickly.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • While Wolves owner Glen Taylor has said interim coach Sam Mitchell has this season to prove himself, Mitchell doesn’t concern himself with the job’s labeling or his future beyond 2015/16, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune relays. “My job is to coach the team and do what I think is right to do,” Mitchell said. “I don’t worry about whether I’m going to be here or not. My job is to teach these players to the best of my ability so that whoever is coaching this team, whether it’s me or anybody else, at least these guys have any idea how to play.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ interaction with George Karl still remains as an interesting topic because of their rocky relationship over the summer, so it was not surprising that Cousins was asked about his high-five to the Kings coach following Karl being called for a technical foul Saturday, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “I’ve told y’all before, honestly, it’s not about that,” Cousins said. “As long as we’re on the same page and have the same goal on a nightly basis, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter if we’re friends or whatever the case may be. It’s about winning games; that’s all that matters.”
  • In a chat with readers, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes that he believes the Mavs will make a trade before the deadline, though he does not necessarily think it will be a significant one.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Chandler, Walton

The Kings are at a critical point in relation to the direction of the franchise, and the question must be asked if center DeMarcus Cousins is the player the team should be building around, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. Cousins is on his fifth coach since entering the league and Sacramento has yet to eclipse the 30 win mark with the big man as the focal point, which isn’t a glowing endorsement of his ability to be the franchise’s anchor going forward, Amick notes.

Coach George Karl is also questioning the team’s demeanor and the roster’s lack of defensive-minded players, Amick adds. “My thought, and I told the team my thought, is inconsistent intensity, inconsistent focus, inconsistent toughness and mental discipline,” Karl said. “Too many times we’ve come out on this court and we’ve been the quiet team, or the soft team, or the cool team, and not the man team. My feeling is we have too many offensive players. We don’t have enough guts to make stops.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns find themselves in a difficult spot regarding rebuilding the roster, and with approximately $110MM committed to the backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight through 2018/19, the team’s best course of action would be to attempt to deal Tyson Chandler and Markieff Morris in order to clear cap space, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Phoenix should also consider waiving small forward P.J. Tucker and his  partially guaranteed pact this offseason, which would free up an additional $3.7MM in cap room, Greene adds.
  • Warriors interim coach Luke Walton was the perfect choice for the franchise to fill in for Steve Kerr while he recovers from back surgery, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. Leung cites Walton’s humble demeanor and excellent preparedness as reasons why he was able to find immediate success, though Golden State’s talented roster certainly was a major benefit for the young coach as well.

Western Notes: Morris, Jones, Leonard

Suns power forward Markieff Morris apologized to his teammates and the coaching staff and was allowed to return to the team after serving his two game suspension for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek during a game last week, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays. “We kind of put it out there what we wanted from him, what we expected,” Hornacek said. “He’s been good for us in the past. We want him to get back to playing like he did last year. It’s been a struggle this year.  We basically tried to get a feel if he was good for that. He said he wanted to get back and help his teammates and help us win.

We definitely had a successful meeting and I’m just happy to be back,” Morris said. The forward also indicated that he regretted the comments he made over the summer regarding his desire to be traded, Coro notes. “I could’ve did that different based on the fans,” Morris said. “I think I owe the fans an apology for saying some of the stuff I said. They deserve better.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Wolves point guard Tyus Jones is hopeful that his time spent in the D-League this season will translate into more minutes at the NBA level, writes Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. “You do go down there trying to prove a point,” Jones said. “Trying to make a statement. I think I played pretty well down there.” The rookie is averaging 24.7 points and 5.0 assists in six contests for the Stampede this season.
  • After re-signing with the Spurs this past offseason, small forward Kawhi Leonard has taken on an increased role in San Antonio’s offense, much to the delight of coach Gregg Popovich, writes Fran Blinebury of NBA.com. “He’s a lot more demonstrative scoring-wise,” Popovich said. “When he gets the ball, he tries to make opportunities for himself. I don’t have to call his number. In transition offensively, he’s looking for situations where he can post up. Mismatches more. Those are probably the main things. More aggressive offensively and understanding that he can do some things that people can’t guard very well. And yeah, there’s been a incremental increase in the volume of his language.”
  • The Kings need to suspend center DeMarcus Cousins for his latest outburst that resulted in his ejection from Monday night’s contest against the Warriors, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee opines. Voisin believes that the organization needs to stop treating Cousins with kid gloves and force him to mature, and she also believes that any suspension should be initiated by the organization and not the league if it is to truly register with the big man.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Morris, Nance Jr.

In an interview with Tzvi Twersky of Slamoline.com, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said that he believes because he’s been on a struggling team for his entire career he doesn’t get the credit for being a tough leader the way that the Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett has. “This is what I’ve come to conclude: Winning covers up everything,” Cousins told Twersky. “If KG was always losing and was the same person, they would think he was the worst guy ever. That’s basically the situation I’m in. Since I’m losing, no one loves a loser—everyone loves a winner. That’s how it goes. I don’t see a difference between me and Joakim Noah. If anything, I feel Joakim has more crazy moments than I do—but his is passion, mine are an attitude or anger problems.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • It’s unclear if and when the Suns will look to trade disgruntled forward Markieff Morris, but there are a number of teams that are intrigued with the combo forward and his reasonable contract, Chris Mannix of SI.com relays (Twitter links). There is likely too much bad blood between Morris and the Suns organization for that relationship to be salvaged, but there is belief around the league that Morris can thrive in a different environment than Phoenix’s, Mannix adds.
  • The Lakers have moved rookie Larry Nance Jr. into the starting lineup thanks to his energy and versatility, but he’ll need to look for his shot more often if he wants to continue in that role, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. “I talked to him today that again when you have an open shot, you got to take the shot,” coach Byron Scott said. “[I told him] ‘You have a nice enough stroke’ and if he can make them on a consistent basis, the defense will start to respect him. But he moves the ball. That’s the only thing about Larry. He doesn’t take a lot of shots; he doesn’t even take the ones that are open. That’s one of the main reasons we changed the starting lineup – to get more ball movement.

Kings Notes: Cousins, Hunter, Casspi

Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins have bonded as teammates and the Kings hope that some of Rondo’s ability to shrug off criticism rubs off on the big man, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. “He’s 25 out here with a lot of pressure, the franchise on his back,” Rondo said. “He’s a strong individual. Me coming in, I just want to help him along the way, make some of the right decisions, push forward and continue to be a good person.” One benefit Rondo’s presence provides Cousins is that he removes some of the pressure from the center to be the face of the franchise, a role that the point guard understands and is comfortable with, Jones adds. “With [Cousins’] leadership and responsibility, it’s a big part to our team,” Rondo said. “I can’t put all the pressure on him. He accepts the pressure and I accept a lot of the pressure. It starts with both of us. I’m the quarterback in the front, he’s the quarterback in the back.

Here’s more from out of Sacramento:

  • Kings training camp cut Vince Hunter is on the radar of a number of NBA teams for a possible 10-day contract thanks to his strong play in the D-League, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets. Hunter is averaging 21.5 points and 11.9 rebounds for the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s D-League affiliate.
  • Omri Casspi, who re-signed with the Kings this past summer on a two-year, $6MM deal, has proven to be a bargain with his solid all-around play and the organization is thrilled with his high-energy style of play, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee writes. “Omri played great for George [Karl] the second half of last season and we wanted to bring him back if we could,” said Kings executive Vlade Divac. “His threes are like layups now. I’m very happy it worked out so well for both of us.

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