DeMarcus Cousins

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 8/17/15

The DeMarcus Cousins saga has been a constant source of news, rumors and innuendo throughout the offseason. The mercurial Kings center is certainly one of the most talented players in the league and, at 25, is just entering the prime years of his career. He’s also locked up contractually through the 2017/18 season.

That hasn’t slowed down the rumor mill that the Kings will deal Cousins well before his contract expires. Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck fueled the fire today by saying that most of the people within the organization want the franchise to trade him away (video link), prompting Cousins, president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive to suggest on Twitter Monday that the report was nonsense. Beck added in his video report that coach George Karl would still like to see the team deal Cousins, even though Karl has said otherwise.

Cousins recently met with Karl and later said that they were on the same page. That meeting came after a brief encounter between Cousins and the coach at summer league that was reportedly their first interaction for a period of months. Cousins had tweeted snake and grass emojis shortly after a report surfaced indicating that Karl had actively attempted to have him traded.

Karl’s reported desire to get rid of Cousins upset Ranadive to the point that he considered firing the coach, and a conflicting narrative exists about whether the Kings reached out to John Calipari as a potential replacement.

The Lakers were reportedly in talks to acquire Cousins around draft time. And while Cousins’ personality may rub some people the wrong way, there would undoubtedly be strong interest around the league in his services if the Kings decided to shop him.

Therefore, our question of the day is this: Do you believe DeMarcus Cousins will remain with the Kings throughout the upcoming season? If not, when do you think he will be traded?

Take to the comments section below to sound off with your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say.

Note: Since these Shootarounds are meant to be guided by you the reader, we certainly welcome your input on the topics we present. If there is something you’d like to see pop up here for a discussion, shoot us a message at hoopsrumorsmailbag@gmail.com.

Most Within Kings Want DeMarcus Cousins Traded?

5:44pm: Cousins, Divac and Ranadive all took to Twitter in an apparent effort to debunk the latest rumors, with Cousins posting “Blah blah blah…” and Divac chiming in with “I agree…#family.” Ranadive followed with the hashtag #WeAreFamily (hat tip to Marc Stein of ESPN.com).

2:04pm: The vast majority of the people in the Kings organization would prefer to see the team trade DeMarcus Cousins, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck says he’s been told (video link). Owner Vivek Ranadive has said publicly since the spring that he has no desire to trade the All-Star center, and while Beck believes that the owner is steadfast against a move, it appears others in the team’s power structure feel differently. Beck adds that coach George Karl would still like to see the team move on from Cousins, even though Karl has said otherwise.

It’s the latest twist in an ongoing saga involving the Kings and Cousins that comes on the heels of weeks of apparent peacemaking. Cousins said last week that he and Karl were on the same page after a meeting that they’d had along with vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz. That meeting came after a brief encounter between Cousins and the coach at summer league that was reportedly their first interaction for a period of months. Cousins notoriously tweeted snake and grass emojis shortly after a report surfaced indicating that Karl had actively attempted to have him traded. A person familiar with Karl’s thinking told Beck all the way back in February that the Kings weren’t ruling out trading Cousins at the deadline this past February, and Karl advanced that notion in April when he said that he’d never coached a player who was off-limits for a trade.

Karl’s apparent efforts to trade Cousins reportedly upset Ranadive to the point that he considered firing the coach, and a conflicting narrative exists about whether the Kings reached out to John Calipari as a potential replacement. Indeed, the line of Cousins rumors has been rife with denials and nuance, dating back to concerns over Cousins’ reaction to the pair of coaching changes that Sacramento made this past season. His contract still has three full seasons left, valued at an average of nearly $16.958MM a year, so it doesn’t present an urgency to make a deal.

The Lakers emerged as a strong suitor for Cousins around draft time. The Dan Fegan client reportedly wanted to play with them, and Ranadive apparently gave Fegan permission to see if he could find a workable trade that would take Cousins out of Sacramento. However, no deal materialized as Divac, who has echoed Ranadive in saying publicly many times that he wants to keep Cousins, sought a reconciliation between Cousins and Karl. It had seemed, before today’s news, that the coach and his star player had patched up their relationship, but apparently that effort still has a ways to go.

What do you think of the latest development in the DeMarcus Cousins saga? Leave a comment to tell us.

Western Notes: Cousins, Karl, Davis, Williams

Rumors about turmoil between DeMarcus Cousins and Kings coach George Karl were overblown, Cousins insisted Tuesday, as Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee observes. The snake and grass emojis that the All-Star tweeted earlier this summer, shortly after the report that Karl wanted to trade him, seemed to indicate otherwise, but it appears their relationship has improved since then.

“There were some things that had to be ironed out,” Cousins said, “but at the same time, I wouldn’t make it as big as it was made out to be. Me and him [Karl] are on the same page, working on our relationship, and getting better every day. That’s all that matters. Things are a lot better. We’re trying to understand each other better. We’re going to make things happen, positive things happen.”

See more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Pelicans coach Monty Williams still won’t express dismay over his firing earlier in the offseason, even though it separated him from Anthony Davis, the New Orleans star with whom he shares an uncanny bond, writes Jimmy Smith of The Times Picayune. Williams, now a Thunder assistant, still talks with Davis but insists that he’s careful to leave most of the tutelage to new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, Smith notes. Still, Williams makes it clear that he’ll always be friends with Davis, according to Smith.
  • The Clippers roster is built to win in the playoffs more so than any other among Western Conference teams, according to metrics that Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com put together for an Insider-only piece. That’s thanks to the addition of depth to the team’s star core, Doolittle writes. The Lance Stephenson trade and the signings of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith and others bolstered the strong but thin existing group.
  • Warriors GM Bob Myers may be the reigning Executive of the Year, but Spurs GM R.C. Buford, who won the award in 2014, is still the league’s top front office boss, opines Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders. That’s not surprising given San Antonio’s free agent haul, which includes LaMarcus Aldridge and a minimum-salary deal for David West.

Kings Notes: Thompson, Cousins, Arena

Jason Thompson says he was “in shock” a week ago when the Sixers, the team he grew up watching in nearby New Jersey, traded him to the Warriors before he ever played a game in a Philly uniform, as the power forward tells Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group. Thompson, whom the Kings had traded to the Sixers earlier in July, added that he’s glad to join a championship team after playing for seven coaches in seven years, none of whom guided the Kings to the playoffs. Still, Thompson, who’s kept a house in Sacramento, isn’t without his sentiments for the only NBA team he’s ever suited up for.

“I built a lot of relationships there with the fans, and they were real loyal to a guy coming out of New Jersey and they welcomed me with open arms,” Thompson said to Steward. “There are a lot of memories. I wish they were better memories with wins and stuff, but I’m sure, going to play in Sac twice, there are going to be a lot of emotions.”

Thompson is under contract for two more seasons, though his 2016/17 salary is partially guaranteed. See more from California’s capital:

  • DeMarcus Cousins, coach George Karl, vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz “talked openly about everything” during a meeting in Las Vegas this week, Divac said on The Grant Napear Show on CBS Sports 1140 in Sacramento, notes Jason Wise of Kings.com. Discord marked the Kings earlier this summer, when Karl reportedly pushed for the team to trade Cousins.
  • Three Sacramento residents have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit against the city government’s funding of a new Kings arena, enabling the city to start paying its share toward construction, which is already in progress, reports Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee. A judge gave the city a favorable ruling two weeks ago, and the challenge didn’t appear to pose a serious threat to the arena project.

Kings Notes: Cousins, Karl, Divac, Turkoglu

The Kings have had an active offseason, striking deals with nine free agents and swinging a pair of trades that helped clear cap space. They signed another free agent, Luc Mbah a Moute, but voided his contract after a failed physical, a move that’s reportedly poised to draw a grievance from the players union. All of it pales in comparison to the tempest surrounding DeMarcus Cousins this summer, and we have more on that amid the latest from Sacramento:

  • Cousins is no stranger to communicating visually, as witnessed by the snake and grass emojis he posted via Twitter amid reports that George Karl wanted to trade him. The center seemingly conveyed different feelings Tuesday via Instagram, posting a photo that depicts him standing arm-in-arm with Karl and Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac. Karl and Cousins apparently didn’t have any interaction for months before a brief meeting at summer league, when USA Today’s Sam Amick reported the existence of plans for a more extensive meeting. It would appear, by the looks of the photo, that the meeting has taken place, but a simple photo hardly means the tension that reportedly had Cousins wanting out has disappeared, writes Matt Moore of CBSSports.com.
  • Hedo Turkoglu isn’t thinking about playing overseas for now and would prefer to remain in the NBA, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. The Kings have emerged as a possibility for the Jim Tanner client, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported last week, citing the presence of Divac, a former teammate and friend.
  • The Kings brought in noteworthy talent via free agency and Ben McLemore has the potential to take a leap forward, but the mix remains combustible, tempering all the reasons for optimism in Sacramento, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller opines.
  • What’s your take on the Kings offseason? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Pacific Notes: Hibbert, Crawford, Cousins, Evans

Lakers trade acquisition Roy Hibbert is excited to play for coach Byron Scott, and while he cautioned that he has nothing against Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the center made it clear as he spoke with TNT’s David Aldridge that his preference this summer was to end up on a team with a former player as coach. Hibbert also expressed his unwavering sentiment for Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird, even though Bird strongly signaled to the media this spring that he was ready to move on from the former All-Star.
Larry was very up front with me,” Hibbert said. “He said before the press conference that I can’t promise you minutes next year, and they wanted to go in a different direction. So it wasn’t like what happened came out of nowhere, what he said. I’ll always say that Larry changed my life. I was on the phone with my agent in the office during the [2009] draft process and Larry said ‘If Roy’s there at 17, we’ll take him.’ That meant a lot to me. I know that things change and the NBA is ‘What have you done for me lately?,’ but I could never say a bad thing about Larry or the Pacers organization.”
We had more on Hibbert’s old team earlier today, and now here’s the latest on his new team’s division rivals:

Kings Rumors: Rondo, Cousins, Mbah a Moute

Rajon Rondo had wanted to play with DeMarcus Cousins for a while, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, who hears from the point guard about just how enticing the chance to play with his fellow former Kentucky Wildcat is.

“What made me comfortable is them having the best big man in the game,” Rondo said of Cousins. “It was a pretty easy decision. I think he’s definitely an MVP candidate and I look forward to playing with him and helping him grow as a player.”

Of course, plenty of rumors suggest Cousins isn’t long for Sacramento, but Rondo told Kennedy that he thinks much of the reported acrimony between Cousins and coach George Karl has been overblown. Rondo had plenty of kind words for the Mavericks despite his turmoil in Dallas, but he makes it clear he’s excited about Sacramento. There’s more on Rondo amid the latest from the California capital:

  • Rondo’s one-year contract with the Kings is worth $9.5MM, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Michael Malone said he felt “awful” for Tyrone Corbin, who guided a struggling Kings team after Sacramento fired Malone as coach in December last year, but the new Nuggets coach also told Grantland’s Zach Lowe that the Kings’ losing ways under Corbin “validated the job that my staff and I did.”
  • Malone also dished to Lowe on his relationship with Cousins. “That relationship was constant work. Constant. But we came to a deep respect,” Malone said in part.
  • The Kings had signed Luc Mbah a Moute for $1.55MM, an above-minimum salary, before voiding his contract Thursday because he failed his physical, Pincus tweets.
  • Kings coach George Karl said he and management wanted to re-sign Derrick Williams but simply couldn’t afford him, as the coach tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. A source close to Karl who spoke to Berman nonetheless impugned Williams’ basketball IQ and said Karl tore into the forward on one occasion for his lack of rebounding. Williams left for a two-year, $8.8MM deal with the Knicks. “It was more of fitting the finances and making the finances work,’’ Karl said. “There are other pieces we wanted and we couldn’t have enough money for him.’’

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Karl, Cousins, Dawson

The Lakers have seemed to lag behind in the adoption of advanced metrics, so they’re creating a new front office position designed to serve as a liaison between the coaching staff and number crunchers in management, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register details. Assistant coach Clay Moser is expected to transition into that role, Oram reports, noting that the Lakers underwhelmed LaMarcus Aldridge with the basketball side of their presentation while he was reportedly “floored in a good way” by the Rockets’ analytics and on-court projections. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • George Karl was known to have reached out to DeMarcus Cousins on several occasions over the past few months, but before their brief encounter at summer league this week, Karl hadn’t spoken with him for quite some time, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Still, Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac wants everyone on the same page by training camp, and the plan is for Karl and Cousins to have a more extensive face-to-face meeting before that, as Amick details.
  • Kings management won’t let Karl hire son Coby Karl as an assistant coach, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times hears (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers are in line to save money on No. 56 pick Branden Dawson even though they gave up $630K to trade for his rights, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks observes (Twitter links). He’ll make the rookie minimum salary of $525,093 this season, but if the Clips had instead signed an undrafted free agent for the minimum, it would have counted as $947,276 for luxury tax purposes, as Marks points out, adding that the Clippers are in line to pay about $1MM less in tax penalties as a result.

Western Notes: Cousins, Levien, Montero

Kings coach George Karl admits talking hypothetical DeMarcus Cousins trades “behind closed doors,” but Karl tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that he rejects the notion that he was actively trying to trade the center.  “As a coach, in meetings every year and maybe four or five times a year, you talk about what-ifs,” Karl said. “And 99% of what-ifs never happen. But isn’t it our job to talk about what-ifs? Does this make us better? Does this get us in a better place? That’s our job. There was never a discussion in that area even close to happening, in my opinion. … Never in the whole time of this experience did I ever think that I wasn’t going to coach Cuz.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • Jason Levien has become an unofficial adviser to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. Levien was formerly the CEO of the Grizzlies, as well as a former Sacramento assistant GM, Howard-Cooper notes.
  • The Wolves were able to create a traded player exception worth $5MM as a result of dealing Chase Budinger to the Pacers, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link).
  • Danny Green said that LaMarcus Aldridge contacted him during the free agent process to pick his brain about the Spurs, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News tweets. Green also noted that the possibility of playing alongside Aldridge factored heavily into his decision to re-sign with the Spurs, McDonald adds.
  • The Trail Blazersdeal with Luis Montero is a three year arrangement with the first season partially guaranteed, according to former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter links).
  • The Thunder have removed forward Steve Novak from the trading block, Chris Mannix of SI.com relays. OKC was reportedly seeking financial relief and was willing to flip Novak in exchange for a future draft pick.
  • Wilson Chandler‘s contract renegotiation and extension with the Nuggets will pay him $10.4MM in 2015/16, $11.2MM for 2016/17, $12.0MM in 2017/18, and $12.8MM during the final season, Pincus notes (Twitter links).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Young, Karl

The Suns have an outmoded local TV deal that squeezes their revenue, and they struggle to draw when they don’t make the playoffs, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports, suggesting that’s behind owner Robert Sarver’s aggressive push to get the team back to the postseason. Phoenix came up short in its strong pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge, but Sarver insists to Lowe that the Tyson Chandler deal wasn’t made solely in an effort to woo Aldridge. The cap-clearing Marcus Morris trade was a signal of the team’s interest in Aldridge, but Phoenix also made it out of a desire to open playing time for other wing players, T.J. Warren in particular, Lowe writes.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers swingman Nick Young has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but the team currently has no plans to deal the scorer, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register tweets. According to Oram, the Lakers had shopped Young in an effort to clear some quick cap room, but no enticing offers materialized.
  • Despite the rocky start to their relationship, Kings coach George Karl believes he and center DeMarcus Cousins can coexist in Sacramento, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports relays. “I just said hello to him this afternoon,” Karl told Spears. “I don’t think it’s something we have to rush through. You got two guys that are very frustrated with losing, two guys that are somewhat stubborn and two guys that love to compete. Sometimes, that doesn’t work the first time you hang around. But you have to take your time to make it work. I’m very confident to make it work.
  • During his offseason dealings, Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac tried to sell players on the changing culture of the Sacramento organization, Spears adds. When asked what his sales pitch was to free agents, Divac said, “We are changing the culture and we want to make a team that’s going to have the same energy that we had during my time because Sacramento needs that. They believe in it and I believe it. We really put good talent over there and now it’s up to Coach to put it together.
  • Rajon Rondo believes that he can rebuild his free agent value this season with the Kings, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I’ve been faced with challenges my whole life,” said Rondo. “A lot of people didn’t expect me to come this far in the NBA. I have no doubts about what my talents can do and what I can bring to the team and I’m looking forward to putting my work in and getting the job done.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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