DeMarcus Cousins

Pacific Rumors: Kings, Bryant, Bogut

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t trust coach George Karl, and they simply don’t get along, writes TNT’s David Aldridge in his Morning Tip column for The relationship is beyond repair, Aldridge believes, and while he thinks Cousins is the best center in the game, the Kings should trade him anyway, he posits, offering a suggestion for a deal he thinks would help Sacramento and send a message that GM Vlade Divac and Karl will be around for the long term. The criticism of Karl’s energy level is unfair, and the Kings should empower one of the best coaches ever, Aldridge opines.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Numerous league executives doubt that Kobe Bryant will last the season, Sam Amico of reports. One unnamed GM told Amico that Bryant’s body can no longer hold up to the rigors of an 82-game NBA season. “I hope I’m wrong, because who doesn’t admire an old warrior — but he has nowhere to go but down at this stage of his playing career,” the GM said. “The body doesn’t want to be argued with, and it’s telling him it’s time to go.” Bryant played 36 minutes on Sunday, an indication that Lakers have two priorities regarding their aging superstar: allowing him to do what he wants, and winning during a supposed rebuilding season, Baxter Holmes of argues. By leaving Bryant on the court that long, coach Byron Scott showed that he will let Bryant play as much as he wants when he’s in uniform, Holmes continues. Bryant’s power over the Lakers organization is greater than ever and Scott, being one of his biggest supporters, will let him dictate the terms of his farewell tour, Holmes adds.
  • Andrew Bogut was surprised when interim Warriors coach Luke Walton told the media he would return to the starting lineup as soon as Tuesday, Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group reports. The undefeated Warriors have utilized Festus Ezeli as the starting center while Bogut recovered from a concussion and Bogut has no problem with keeping things status quo, Leung continues. “Like I’ve said from the start, I’ve been starting my whole career, but I understand I missed [six] games there, and we won all of them,” Bogut told Leung. “Maybe the starters are used to having Festus there the first six, seven minutes and get their rhythm that way.”

Atlantic Notes: Cousins, Sullinger, Brown, Harper

The price that the Kings have asked of other teams seeking to trade for DeMarcus Cousins has dissuaded the Celtics from so much as inquiring thus far, multiple sources tell Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who suggests that Cousins’ maturity has made the Celtics wary, given the high cost. A Western Conference GM confirmed to Bulpett that the Kings sought Julius Randle and No. 2 pick from the Lakers prior to this year’s draft, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported at the time that Sacramento asked for Jordan Clarkson and other draft assets from the Lakers, too. The Kings also wanted to attach Carl Landry, since traded to the Sixers, to any Cousins deal, Wojnarowski wrote. See more on Boston talks — or lack thereof — amid our look at the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said over the offseason that the team was engaged in extension talks with Jared Sullinger, later saying he would continue that discussion. Agent David Falk, speaking to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald last week, painted a different picture. “We didn’t spend one second discussing an extension for him,” Falk said. “Danny wasn’t in a position to give the max, so there was really nothing to talk about. I’ve never done a contract extension for a rookie who didn’t make the max since 1996. You have to understand I’m not a rookie in this league. The GMs all know.” Falk doesn’t necessarily see Sullinger as a max player and simply doesn’t believe in agreeing to terms for a young player before he’s had a chance to hit the market, Bulpett explains. He’s nonetheless optimistic about Sullinger’s prospects, especially given the relative dearth of quality 2016 free agents beyond the top few names.
  • Gregg Popovich wouldn’t want to coach this Sixers roster but says Brett Brown, his former Spurs assistant, is fully engaged, as Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. Brown, in third year of a four-year contract, is, “the most positive person that I know,” Popovich said. “I honestly don’t know who else could be in Philadelphia doing what he’s doing,” Popovich added. “I couldn’t do it. I’d last a month. Two years ago, I mean. A month. Not in the third year.”
  • Nets preseason cut Justin Harper is joining the D-League affiliate of the Lakers, the minor league team announced. The power forward was the 32nd overall pick in 2011.

Kings Notes: Cousins, Divac, Karl, Casspi, Dukan

The Kings fined DeMarcus Cousins for his tirade after Monday’s game, though he didn’t aim the outburst directly at the coaching staff, team and league sources tell Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. That’s in contrast to a report indicating that Cousins specifically lashed out at George Karl. Vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac denies that he asked the players in a Tuesday meeting if the team should fire Karl, Voisin adds, and Divac has said Karl will be sticking around until the end of the season. That ties much of the executive’s fate to the coach, as Divac himself is on “little more than a one-year deal” with the Kings and hopes to sign a long-term deal this summer, according to Voisin. The Kings hired Divac in March, shortly after they hired Karl, but Divac recommended Karl to the Kings before they hired the coach, Voisin writes. See more from Sacramento:

  • If Cousins wanted the Kings to fire Karl, the coach would already be gone, sources tell Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. The star center has made it clear to team management that he doesn’t want Karl fired, as Chris Mannix of reported.
  • Karl speaks more with the media than he does with his team, and players find his frank talk with reporters unnerving, sources tell James Ham of Players are “confused and frustrated” over Karl’s constant lineup changes, Ham writes.
  • Amid the turmoil, Omri Casspi is off to a strong start after re-signing this past summer, in part because of Karl’s system, as Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee examines. “I think he understands flow; he understands the pace of the game,” Karl said. “He’s one of our faster runners and gets in the open court in a good way many times. And he knows how to play off of good players. He knows how to find open shots when Cuz is being double-teamed, or when there’s an isolation with Rudy [Gay]. He knows how to get open by figuring out the player the defense is tilting toward.”
  • The Kings have assigned rookie Duje Dukan to the D-League, the team announced. The undrafted combo forward has yet to appear in a regular season game for Sacramento.

Vlade Divac Denies Asking Players If Karl Should Go

6:45pm: Divac said the idea he asked the players if they wanted Karl fired is a misconception, notes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee.

“You guys make my job hard,” Divac said to reporters. “There is partial truth to a lot of what has been reported, but much of it was off. First of all, I never asked the players if I should fire Coach or said I was thinking of doing that. I walked into the locker room after [Monday’s] game and said, ‘OK, you guys don’t want to play with Coach? What’s the problem?’ I wanted to catch them by surprise a little bit and get them to talk openly about what was going on. Then the coaches came in, and we talked some more. I think it was very positive for everyone.”

THURSDAY, 10:15am: A league source who spoke with Ken Berger of disputes the idea that Divac asked Kings players if the team should get rid of Karl, though he doesn’t mention Bratz’s involvement. We have more on the Kings drama right here.

6:43pm: Divac answered affirmatively when Marc J. Spears asked him if Karl’s job is safe (Twitter link).

“Yeah,” Divac said. “Yeah. Nothing has changed, really. 1-7, we all know we’re better.”

The blame for Cousins’ tirade doesn’t rest on Karl’s shoulders, Divac also told Spears, who earlier passed on a statement from Cousins apologizing for his outburst (All four Twitter links). Divac wouldn’t say whether the team is disciplining Cousins in any way for the tirade, Spears notes (Twitter link).

“Most important thing we had after the meeting was we were on the same page, bottom line, on how to improve. That’s positive stuff,” Divac said.

5:36pm: Karl wanted to suspend Cousins for two games after the center’s Monday night verbal tirade, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays. According to Jones, Divac told the coach that he did not have authority to suspend Cousins, and Divac refused to grant Karl permission to impose the suspension.

3:15pm: Karl is indeed in jeopardy of losing his job as soon as this week, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports. Meanwhile, owners who have minority shares in the Kings are more frustrated than ever with Ranadive in large measure because he isn’t consulting with them on decisions, Amick hears from a source.

WEDNESDAY, 2:46pm: Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz asked players during Tuesday’s team meeting whether they thought he should fire coach George Karl, reports Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead. The players weren’t sure how to respond, McIntyre adds, though Caron Butler said after the meeting that the players are behind the coach. DeMarcus Cousins verbally lit into Karl after Monday’s loss to the Spurs, though he later felt a level of regret about having done so, McIntyre also hears. Divac is under pressure as Vivek Ranadive’s interest in hiring John Calipari to both coach the team and run the front office has ramped up in recent months, according to McIntyre.

Cousins asked a couple of teammates if he had been too hard on Karl, who simply walked away at the end of the center’s rant, and they advised him not to “scream and curse” at his coach the way he had, as McIntyre details. Karl and Cousins have had an up-and-down relationship, at best, since Karl took over the team in February, with the two saying over the summer that they had patched up their differences following reports indicating that Karl wanted the team to trade Cousins and had sought to do so. Kings officials are reportedly concerned with Karl’s low energy amid a 1-7 start.

Ben McLemore expressed confusion during Tuesday’s team meeting about his role, though teammates told him it was to hit 3-pointers and defend, and that those are the responsibilities of everyone aside from Cousins and Rajon Rondo, as McIntyre details.

The Kings denied a report over the summer indicating that they had reached out to Calipari at that point, and Calipari has continually maintained that he isn’t interested in returning to the NBA, despite persistent rumors to the contrary. The team’s decisions to draft Willie Cauley-Stein, whom Calipari coached at Kentucky, and sign Rondo, who played at Kentucky before Calipari became coach there, were mostly because of Ranadive’s friendship with Calipari, McIntyre writes.

How do you see the Kings saga playing out? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Latest On Kings, George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins

10:55am: Cousins and Divac have become close, notes SB Nation’s Tom Ziller amid his column on the Kings saga.

10:15am: George Karl will remain the coach of the Kings through this season, vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac said in response to a question from Lisa Gonzales of KCRA-TV in Sacramento, in spite of reports from Wednesday indicating that his job is in immediate danger (Twitter link). A league source who spoke with Ken Berger of disputes the idea that Divac asked Kings players if the team should fire Karl, as was reportedly the case.

Still, it’s much more likely that the Kings will fire Karl than trade Cousins, sources close to Kings ownership tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The possibility exists that the Kings will part ways with both Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, Berger also hears. Karl’s contract has about $10MM left on it, and it’s fully guaranteed through 2016/17 with a $1.5MM partial guarantee for 2017/18. Cousins has a fully guaranteed total of nearly $51MM left on his deal, which runs through 2017/18.

Cousins has made it clear to Kings brass that he doesn’t want the team to fire Karl, sources tell Chris Mannix of However, the Karl-Cousins partnership was “doomed from the start,” a league source told Berger, and a person familiar with the team said to Berger that Karl has irritated the front office and players alike. Karl wanted to suspend Cousins last season for negative body language during timeouts, two sources told Mannix. Still, sources on both sides of the relationship between Karl and Cousins who spoke with Mannix believe that the relationship can be saved. Cousins had expectations of winning this season, and it was his frustration with losing that was the primary impetus for Cousins’ verbal excoriation of Karl after Monday’s loss, but Cousins believes that another coaching change won’t help the team in the standings, as Mannix details.

Several Kings players, including Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay, have expressed frustration about Karl, but the team’s meeting on Tuesday wasn’t out of the ordinary, sources tell Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of Cousins, who publicly apologized for reportedly yelling profanities at Karl after Monday’s loss, cited an air of positivity after the meeting, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Divac tried to calm Cousins during his tirade but said later that he’s OK with the star center’s outburst and that he doesn’t think Cousins was only pointing his criticism at Karl, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports details. Coaches and team officials met with the players after the players held a meeting of their own Tuesday, Spears also notes.

“I’m not sure a panic button was pushed as you all magnified it,” Karl said, as the ESPN report relays. “Team meetings and six-game losing streaks happen. The newness to our team? I don’t know. But I thought the last two days have been good for us.”

Karl admits he delegates more of his duties than before he endured a recurrence of cancer during his time with the Nuggets, but he disputes the idea that his energy is diminished, as Jones relays via Facebook. Kings management has reportedly been concerned with Karl’s stamina. Owner Vivek Ranadive is reportedly more interested than ever in Kentucky coach John Calipari, who remains intrigued with the idea of returning to the NBA, despite his denials, Mannix adds. “Rumblings” indicate that Kings minority owners, reportedly frustrated with Ranadive’s failure to consult with them on moves, “desperately” want to wrest control of the team from Ranadive, though they have little power to make that happen, Mannix writes.

How long do you think Karl will remain coach of the Kings? Leave a comment to tell us.

Kings Notes: Karl, Iske, Divac, Cousins

George Karl must return to his usual frenetic self to be successful as coach of the Kings, argues Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, citing questions over how much the 64-year-old cancer survivor has left as the “overriding concern” within Kings ownership and the front office. Team officials and close friends of Karl have noticed his energy level has dipped since the start of the season, even though he insists otherwise, Voisin writes. People from inside and outside the organization have noticed lead assistant Chad Iske bearing heavy responsibility, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. See more on the Kings, who’ll try to snap a six-game losing streak tonight against the Pistons:

  • Some Kings players are pining for the defensive focus that former coach Michael Malone brought and have concerns about Karl’s defensive schemes, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. However, the players aren’t always defending with effort, Jones believes, citing a comment from Karl about “lazy” defense at times. “I never said they don’t like the system,” vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac said of the players. “They just didn’t buy in, yet.”
  • Divac said he called Tuesday’s team meeting, Jones notes in the same story. DeMarcus Cousins originally indicated it would be a players-only affair, though Omri Casspi said Cousins did share a text message with the players that reiterated his commitment to the team, as Jones relays. “[Cousins] was the one to send out a text to the players [Monday] night about how he cares about the team, wants to win and he feels like he has the right pieces here,” Casspi said. “So we’ve all got to step up.”
  • The team’s mood was remarkably lighter Tuesday following the meeting than it was in the locker room after Monday’s game, observes James Ham of “All problems are fixable,” Caron Butler said. “They all are. If they weren’t fixable, I don’t think I would be over here sitting, talking to you guys.”
  • The continued failure of the Kings to build a successful team around Cousins makes it worth pondering if Sacramento would be better off trading him and starting over, even though he’s a foundational star, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller opines.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Divac, Upshaw, Kerr

DeMarcus Cousins spoke Monday night of the Kings holding a players-only meeting, but the confab, which took place today, also apparently included coaches and front office chief Vlade Divac, who termed it a productive affair, observes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Caron Butler said the team is behind coach George Karl, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV-TV.

“We addressed some issues and the most important thing is we are on the same page,” Divac said, according to Jones.

While we wait to see if the meeting helps Sacramento end a six-game losing streak or simply leads to more drama, see more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers worked out Kristaps Porzingis but ultimately passed on him with the No. 2 pick, though coach Byron Scott didn’t expect him to be as productive as he has been so soon for the Knicks, who drafted him fourth, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post“From what we saw, he was able to shoot it from 3-point range pretty easily,” Scott said. “He’s a young kid that in the workouts we had, really didn’t show any fear. Just thought it was going to take him some time [to develop]. Obviously, we were probably a little wrong about that because he’s playing pretty well right now.”
  • Robert Upshaw said he knew from the start of his deal to join the Lakers that the team would waive him, as the Lakers ultimately did before opening night, but he’s confident he’ll receive another NBA contract this season and isn’t considering a jump overseas, as he told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). The undrafted big man is with the Lakers D-League team as an affiliate player.
  • Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group tosses out some predictions for the rest of the Warriors season, suggesting that if coach Steve Kerr doesn’t make it back by around March 1st, it would be tough to envision him jumping back in so close to the postseason. Still, Kawakami speculates that such a lengthy absence is unlikely.

Western Notes: Cousins, Belinelli, Green, Wolves

The Kings, losers of six in a row and just 1-7 on the season, are planning a players-only meeting, DeMarcus Cousins told reporters, adding that the team’s issues are “not at all” about on-court matters, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays. Cousins cautioned that he believes in “every single person in this [locker] room,” Jones notes, though the looming question surrounds his relationship with coach George Karl, who’s used seven different starting lineups in the team’s eight games.

“Everything I can’t really speak on,” Cousins said. “We got some issues that we got to carve out. Can’t really speak on that. But one thing is, us players, we got to stick together. And just with that, that’ll get us through most battles. We got some issues in-house we need to figure out.”

Rudy Gay suggested on-court issues were at play, saying the team’s offensive and defensive schemes require examination, The Bee’s Ailene Voisin tweets. While we wait to see how the latest drama in Sacramento plays out, see more on the Kings amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli have known each other since they were teenagers and they forged an uncommonly tight bond that Ginobili has missed since Belinelli departed the Spurs for the Kings in free agency this past summer, observes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich seems to wish he could have kept the Italian-born shooting guard. “I just miss his presence,” Popovich said, according to Orsborn. “He was a great guy. He was a great teammate. Great sense of humor, again he was a great teammate, a real smart player. We all miss him.”
  • The release of Erick Green leaves the Nuggets shorthanded at point guard, but coach Michael Malone is confident that the team has enough ball-handling at other positions to make up for it, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post examines. The Nuggets had a chance to put that theory to the test when Jameer Nelson missed Monday’s win over the Blazers with injury. In any case, Denver remains high on Green. “He lives in the gym, everyone in this building has a positive impression of Erick, not just him as a player but him as a person,” GM Tim Connelly said. “He’s a fantastic person, and he’s going to be back in the NBA, ASAP. He’s a guys we’ll keep close tabs on. You never close the door, especially for a guy who has done as much as Erick and worked as hard as he has.”
  • Austin Peters of Upside & Motor categorizes eight Timberwolves on rookie contracts into tiers, with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in their own class at the top and Gorgui Dieng joining Adreian Payne as those Peters views as long shots to make an impact.

Fallout From/Reaction To Tristan Thompson Deal

The Cavs began with an offer to Tristan Thompson that was about $70MM and only moved up to $80MM roughly six weeks ago, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer hears. Reports that they were close to an $80MM deal on the first day of free agency were off-base, according to Pluto, who recounts the motivations for all parties involved, including the promise that Dan Gilbert made to LeBron James that he would spent to help the team win.

Here’s more regarding Thompson and the Cavs:

  • Cleveland slightly increased its offer in the days leading up to the deal, a source told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.
  • Neither side in the Thompson negotiations came out a clear winner as both player and team stand to reap value from the deal, writes Dave McMenamin of
  • DeMarcus Cousins appeared to criticize Cleveland’s outlay, taking to Twitter with the message “How much???,” a public statement that was “thoroughly foolish” and “thoroughly revealing” as labor negotiations between owners and the players union loom, McMenamin argues in the same piece.
  • Thompson’s new deal illustrates just how willing Gilbert and the Cavaliers organization is to spend money in pursuit of an NBA title, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes.
  • With a new labor agreement on the horizon in 2017, there is an excellent chance that Cleveland will have the opportunity to waive Thompson via the amnesty provision if his contract turns out to be an albatross, writes Tom Ziller of SBNation. Ziller notes that amnesty clauses are generally a part of new labor agreements, which would provide the team a means to clear Thompson’s cap hit off its books, though it would still be responsible for any remaining salary owed to the power forward.
  • Keeping James happy played a large role in the Cavs signing Thompson, which is an added benefit to retaining the young big man, since James has the ability to opt out of his deal after the season is completed, Ken Berger of writes.

Pacific Notes: Clark, Chandler, Cousins, Walton

Ian Clark has shot well during camp and shown improving skill as a point guard, as well as the ability to defend multiple positions, all of which bodes well for his chances to stick with the Warriors on his non-guaranteed deal, as Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle examines. He’s also lingering after the end of most practices so he can play one-on-one with Stephen Curry, Simmons notes.

“He’s played well,” Curry said. “He’s not just a shooter. He’s shown that he can put the ball on the floor and make plays. He’s been around a couple of different teams and our summer-league program. I think he understands how we play, and he’s fitting right in. It’s fun to watch those five or six guys fighting for a roster spot, but Ian has definitely shown that he’s confident, and he’s making the most of an opportunity right now.”

Golden State has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts and James Michael McAdoo on a partially guaranteed deal, as our roster count shows, leaving Clark among six likely fighting for a single regular season spot. See more from the Warriors amid the latest on the Pacific Division:

  • The free agent signing of Tyson Chandler has displaced Alex Len from the Suns starting lineup, but the 2013 No. 5 overall pick sees it as an opportunity to learn from an experienced mentor, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Suns senior adviser Lon Babby also arranged for Len to work with Tim Duncan for a few days this summer, Coro notes. “I learn something new every day,” Len said. “Like I talk to Tyson and he tells me something and I can apply it in the game right away. Like positioning and little things he helps with. I feel the game has slowed down a little bit from last year to this year. Now, when I dive and catch the ball, I see other guys more and read the game better.” 
  • Luke Walton‘s career trajectory has seen him go from a first-time assistant, to winning an NBA title, and now to Warriors interim head coach in the span of 14 months, Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.
  • Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is pleased with the team’s veteran offseason additions, who all fit with Sacramento’s intent to try to contend this season, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. “You’ve got guys who know how to play the game, guys that know the game,” Cousins said. “Coming out and building chemistry is even easier. Trying to do that with younger guys? They’re trying to figure out their game and learn how to play.

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