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Sacramento Kings

Matt Barnes In New York City Nightclub Fight

Kings forward Matt Barnes talked to police today to give his side of an alleged choking incident in a New York City nightclub, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea.

In a story first reported by TMZ, Barnes is accused of choking a woman and assaulting two other people who tried to intervene. He offered an explanation in a statement today on his Instagram account, posting, “There’s always two sides to a story.. The side the media consistently tries to paint of me…. And what actually happened! Don’t believe everything you read.”

The confrontation took place early this morning at the Avenue Nightclub, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Barnes said he was slapped by a women he “accidentally butt bumped” as he headed toward the VIP section, then claims he was knocked to the floor by several men, one of whom tried to choke him.

TMZ reports that teammate DeMarcus Cousins came to Barnes’ defense. Cousins claims he doesn’t know what started the incident, but said someone tried to choke Barnes.

Barnes’ attorney, Alex Spiro, sent an email to the Sacramento Bee proclaiming his client’s innocence.

“We do not believe a crime was committed,” Spiro wrote. “We are cooperating with law enforcement and are hopeful no charges will be pressed.”

The 36-year-old Barnes has become a valuable team leader since rejoining the Kings this summer. He is averaging 7.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists through 20 games.

The team released a statement this afternoon, saying, “We have clear standards of conduct and behavior expected of the entire Kings organization – on and off the court. We are working with all parties involved to gather information in order to take any appropriate next steps.”

Roc Nation Sports To Rep Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson

A pair of Kings players have new representation, according to Sam Amick of USA Today, who reports (via Twitter) that Rudy Gay and Ty Lawson are both headed to Roc Nation Sports. Roger Montgomery will serve as the new agent for Gay and Lawson, per Amick.

A report last week suggested that Gay had opted to leave Octagon Basketball, the agency that had previously represented him. In the wake of that report, Amick indicated that the veteran forward may land with Roc Nation, while Gay told Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee that the move was about needing a change, rather than anything specifically related to his contract situation.

Of course, even if that’s true, the timing is interesting. Gay is one of the NBA’s top trade candidates this season, having expressed some frustration with his situation in Sacramento. Gay has a player option for 2017/18, but has already told the Kings he intends to opt out and test the market, so his new reps will likely be tasked with negotiating a new contract for him in July, even if they don’t push for a trade before then.

As for Lawson, like Gay, he is on track for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2016/17 season. The former Nuggets, Rockets, and Pacers point guard signed a one-year, make-good deal with the Kings, and has started 14 of his 20 games for the team so far. However, Lawson’s overall numbers (7.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, .395/.351/.765 shooting line) still aren’t great, and if they don’t improve, his reps will be hard-pressed to get their client much of a raise in 2017.

Cousins Has Good Relationship With New Coach

DeMarcus Cousins is off to the best start of his career and may finally have the coach he has been wanting, writes Paul Flannery of SB Nation. None of that may stop trade rumors as the Kings continue to compile a losing record, just as they have through Cousins’ first six seasons. Many observers believe Cousins will head out of Sacramento when his contract expires in the summer of 2018, but unlike teammate Rudy Gay, Cousins hasn’t spoken publicly about leaving. One factor in keeping him may be new coach Dave Joerger, who has established a strong rapport with the big man. It has been a welcome change from George Karl, who had an ongoing feud with Cousins throughout his brief tenure. “He’s amazingly talented,” Joerger said. “We watched his talent get better every year from the other sideline. Like man, this guy just keeps getting better. And then when I got to coach him, I’m like, holy cow. He is incredibly talented. And then, the way that he has gone about his business and grown. Again from the other sideline to now here, he has really grown in the way he handles his business. Whether it’s practice, shootarounds, games, dealing with officials, handling adversity. Those two things have impressed me.”

Cousins Won't Rule Out Signing Extension

DeMarcus Cousins is well aware that many Celtics fans want him in Boston but he hasn’t ruled out signing an extension with the Kings, A. Sherrod Blakely of reports. Cousins, who isn’t eligible to hit the free agent market until 2018, told Blakely he would not rule out the possibility of staying with Sacramento long-term. “I got a season and a whole other season,” Cousins said. “I focus on these guys right here; I focus on winning games; I focus on making the playoffs; that’s it.” However, Cousins is unfazed about the constant trade chatter, in which Boston is prominently mentioned as a logical match. “Most of the rumors come from people who want me on their team,” he told Blakely. “It doesn’t bother me.”
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
  • Nerlens Noel isn’t happy about the logjam in the Sixers’ frontcourt, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Noel is skeptical that there will be enough minutes to go around, now that Joel Embiid has established himself, Narducci continues. “I don’t think the roster’s changed,” Noel told Narducci. Noel, sidelined by a knee injury since training camp, returned to the team on Thursday after working out with its D-League affiliate. But coach Brett Brown estimates Noel will miss four or five more games, Narducci adds.
  • Guard Josh Richardson returned to Miami during the Heat’s current three-game road trip to get treatment for his sore ankle, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Richardson suffered the injury against the Celtics on Monday. Miami is already playing without two of its top wings, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters, due to injuries. “It’s an easy decision for us,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other beat writers. “His ankle is really sore. He has a bunch of other little, minor things going on. So we just wanted to go back, get his body right, feel right for the next three days, four days. We’ll reevaluate him then.”
  • Pacers star Paul George plans to return to action on Sunday after missing six of the last seven games with an ankle injury, according to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star. George feels like his team, which is one game under .500, needs his leadership on the court. “I think just sitting out and watching, I’ve got to get back to being the guy for us,” he told Taylor. “I’ve got to have the trust of the team, I’ve got to have the trust of the organization. This has been my group, this has been my team. I’ve got to get back to that.”

And-Ones: Postponement, Goodwin, Adams, Smith

The Sixers and Kings will have to find room on their schedules for a make-up game after tonight’s contest in Philadelphia was postponed because of excess moisture on the floor of Wells Fargo Center. Crews worked for about an hour trying to dry the court before the game was officially called off. No makeup date was announced, but there is speculation that it will be rescheduled when the Kings make their next Eastern swing in late January. Both teams are off and the arena will be available on January 30th, tweets The Vertical’s Bobby Marks.

There’s more basketball news tonight:

  • Archie Goodwin, who was waived by the Pelicans November 20th, has been claimed by the Greensboro Swarm of the D-League, according to a tweet from D-League Digest. The Hornets’ affiliate reportedly tried to trade Goodwin’s rights, but couldn’t work out a deal (Twitter link). Goodwin spent the last three seasons with the Suns, but was released in the preseason. The Pelicans signed him earlier this month when injuries left them shorthanded, but he played just three games in New Orleans.
  • Shooting guard Jordan Adams, who was claimed by the Oklahoma City Blue on Monday, has failed his physical, according to D-League Digest (Twitter link). The team will still retain the rights to Adams and will not move back to the top of the waiver order (Twitter link). Adams, a UCLA product, was waived by the Grizzlies during the preseason. A first-round pick in 2014, he had spent the past two seasons in Memphis, playing 30 games in 2014/15 and two games last season.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says a mental lapse by J.R. Smith that led to an easy Bucks basket Tuesday night is a sign of an overall focus problem by the team, writes Dave McMenamin of Smith walked to the Milwaukee bench to greet Jason Terry during an inbounds play, leaving Matthew Dellavedova open for an easy layup. “Obviously we both know it wasn’t intentional, but it was just a lack of focus,” Smith said. “One of the multiple things that compounded onto the loss was just as a team we haven’t been as focused as we previously were.”

Kings Notes: Cousins, Casspi, Gay, Stauskas

Kings coach Dave Joerger has gone back to a bigger starting lineup in an effort to improve the team’s defense, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Kosta Koufos is back with the starters, being used at center with DeMarcus Cousins at power forward. Joerger briefly tried a small-ball starting lineup, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. “I’m trying to protect DeMarcus a little bit by letting Kosta take the hits on a bigger guy like [Washington Wizards center Marcin] Gortat,” Joerger said. “And defensively more pick-and-rolls and try to save [Cousins’] legs for the end.” 

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Cousins continues to put up incredible numbers, averaging 28.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per night, but the Kings need more production from their complementary players, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea“We’ve just got to be better,” Omri Casspi said after Monday’s overtime loss at Washington. “Our bench guys and our role players have to do a better job of helping DeMarcus. It feels like he’s doing anything he can to win the game for us. We’ve just got to be better.”
  • Rudy Gay confirmed that he has left Octagon Basketball, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Gay, who has suggested that he won’t be re-signing with Sacramento after he becomes a free agent next summer, may be joining Roc Nation, an agency headed by rapper Jay Z (Twitter link). However, he told Jones that the change isn’t related to his impending free agency (Twitter link).
  • Nik Stauskas says it doesn’t bother him to hear that the Kings feel like they should have drafted someone else in 2014, Jones posts on Facebook. Owner Vivek Ranadive recently told Amick that he preferred Magic guard Elfrid Payton over Stauskas as the No. 8 pick. “Like I said, they did me a favor sending me here to Philadelphia,” Stauskas replied. “I’ve had a really good opportunity to play even though I hadn’t been performing though my first year with the Sixers. I’m thankful that the organization gave me an opportunity, they drafted me, but if they felt like the made a mistake by drafting me then they felt like they made a mistake. I can’t do anything about it now.”

Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gay Changing Agencies?

2:47pm: Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders clarifies (via Twitter) that Butler has not changed his representation, though his agent has moved to a different agency. The Bulls forward will continue to be represented by Steve McCaskill, who now works for Catalyst Sports with Happy Walters.

11:50am: A pair of high-scoring forwards are making changes to their representation, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Sportando reports that Jimmy Butler has decided to leave Independent Sports & Entertainment, and that Rudy Gay has opted to leave Octagon Basketball.

Butler, a two-time All-Star for the Bulls remains under team control through the 2018/19 season, with a player option for 2019/20, so he won’t require an agent to negotiate a new contract for him anytime soon. As Cauchi observes, Butler’s agency change may be related to Happy Walters’ latest career move. Walters, who previously represented Butler at Relativity Sports, has launched a new agency called Catalyst Sports & Media, so the Bulls forward could end up with Catalyst.

As for Gay, his contract situation is a little more active than Butler’s at the moment — the Kings forward has already informed the team that he intends to opt out of his contract next summer after playing out the 2016/17 season. Gay has also frequently been cited as a trade candidate, so a new agent could attempt to help accommodate a trade out of Sacramento before negotiating a new contract for Gay in July.

Afflalo Knew It Was Time To Leave New York

Arron Afflalo knew it was time to leave New York after being benched by interim coach Kurt Rambis and learning that the team was pursuing Courtney Lee, relays Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Afflalo spent just one year with the Knicks, opting out of an $8MM deal for this season and reaching a two-year, $25MM agreement with the Kings. His season in New York was marked by a coaching change, the demotion and other turmoil. “It’s hard to get a genuine experience with anything when you haven’t had longevity or there are a lot of changes taking place, whether it’s changes with my individual role or with the coaching staff or the environment as a whole,” Afflalo said. “Six months is a short season when you’re not a playoff team and you’re going through a lot of changes, but they seem to be doing better now. I think as the core group, with Melo [Carmelo Anthony] and KP [Kristaps Porzingis], and the guys that they bring in continuing to get better, New York will be okay.”

Cousins Has Talked To Wall, Bledsoe About Teaming Up

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins frequently talks to his former Kentucky teammates about reuniting in the NBA, tweets Ben Standig of Locked on Wizards. Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game at Washington, Cousins addressed the possibility of someday joining forces with Wizards point guard John Wall“He wants me here,” Cousins said. Eric [Bledsoe] wants us in Phoenix.” Cousins will be a free agent after the 2017/18 season, and although he has been the subject of trade rumors, his public stance is that he wants to remain with the Kings. Wall won’t be a free agent until 2019. “Do we ever talk about playing with one another? Is that your question? It’s come up,” said Cousins. “They’re going to all come to Sac. Come to Sac.”

  • Arron Afflalo is willing to be flexible as Kings coach Dave Joerger searches for the best lineup, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Afflalo, who signed with Sacramento in July for $25MM over two years, was used as both a starter and a reserve last week. “You can’t fault a coach for trying to win and trying to find guys that work together,” he said. “But for me personally, I take pride in being a versatile basketball player, so sometimes coaches can see the benefit of me coming off the bench, and sometimes I’m a necessary stability piece in the starting lineup. It just depends.” Joerger has used a different starting lineup in each of the team’s last five games.

Pacific Notes: Russell, Clippers, Richardson

Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell said his left knee felt “better” Saturday as he hoisted a few set shots after practice, relays Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Russell made his first public comments since receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection on Wednesday. He is undergoing a rehab regimen that includes poll and low-impact cardio exercises and will be re-evaluated later this week. “Definitely don’t want to force anything back,” said Russell, who will be reevalauted later in the week. “I feel like I got to be 100 percent perfect before I step back on the floor.” He will likely be out of action for two more weeks.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers‘ rebuilt bench makes them a legitimate challenger to Golden State in the West, contends Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The reserves have been a liability in the past, but the Clippers addressed that issue this summer with the signings of Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton. Add in Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford and the return of Wesley Johnson from a heel injury, and the bench seems ready to support a strong starting lineup.
  • Being assigned to the D-League gave Kings rookie Malachi Richardson the chance to enjoy the thrill of hitting a game-winning shot, writes Shahbaz Khan of It came in Reno’s recent victory over Texas and the Kings were happy to see how Richardson responded in a pressure situation. “The great players take those type of shots,” he said, “and one day I want to be one of those players, so I decided to take it.”
  • Alex Len, who will be a restricted free agent after the season, has played well as a starter, but does not mind shifting back to the Suns‘ bench because of Tyson Chandler‘s return from injury, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relays.

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