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.
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