DeMarcus Cousins

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Pelicans, Noel, Williams

The pressure is rising in New Orleans after losses in DeMarcus Cousins‘ first two games with the Pelicans, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Many observers anointed New Orleans as the favorite to grab the West’s eighth playoff spot after Monday’s trade, but the Pelicans were embarrassed Thursday at home by the Rockets, then faded late in Saturday’s loss at Dallas. They are now 3 1/2 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth spot with 23 games remaining. Cousins had a spectacular game in his debut with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals and four blocks, but scored 12 points on just nine shots last night.

Pelicans commentator David Wesley says Cousins and Anthony Davis haven’t figured out how to co-exist on the court. “Right now, the spacing of the floor is not there,” Wesley said during Saturday’s game. “And with DeMarcus, Anthony, whoever is on the block that’s trying to operate, there are no lanes to operate with. There are no spaces right now to drive the basketball for the guards or the perimeter players. And they’re going to have to figure that out. This is [the] team they have.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Depth at the wing positions could be a problem in New Orleans for the rest of the season, notes Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. The trade for Cousins sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to Sacramento, and Omri Casspi, who was acquired from the Kings, broke his right thumb in his first game and has been released. The Pelicans will have to get by with temporary acquisitions like Reggie Williams, who signed a 10-day contract Saturday.
  • The Mavericks were ecstatic with their first look at Nerlens Noel, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Sixers, relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. Noel, who hasn’t practiced yet with his new team, came off the bench Saturday with nine points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes. Dallas views the 22-year-old center as one of its building blocks, even though he will probably be used in a reserve role for the rest of the season. “Noel’s going to be the starting center here,” Carlisle said about Noel’s future role. “I do think he’ll get some starts this year. I just can’t tell you when or how frequently or exactly how it’s going to go. That’s the truth.”
  • Picking up Lou Williams from the Lakers shows the Rockets are serious about contending for a title this season, writes Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.

Kings’ GM Divac Explains DeMarcus Cousins Trade

Kings GM Vlade Divac explains his comments about having a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins two days before the deal in an interview with Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee about last week’s shocking trade.

Divac says the offer came from the Pelicans, who were proposing Buddy Hield and two first-round picks, rather than the final package of Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and this year’s first- and second-rounders. He blames the center’s agents, Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana, for driving down Cousins’ price.

“I talked to DeMarcus’ agents to inform them we were having talks, negotiating terms, and they called teams and threatened them,” Divac explained, “saying that if Cousins was traded, he would not sign an extension. [The Pelicans] got scared and dropped it down to a second-round pick. I thought if I waited longer, I would get less. I needed to act.”

Divac also addressed the urgency created by a possible extension for Cousins, recent comments about keeping the big man in Sacramento and the decision to waive Matt Barnes in a wide-ranging discussion. Here are some highlights:

On the decision to pull the trigger on the trade to New Orleans:

“It was a lot of things, but basically, I thought it was time to start over. There was a lot of bad stuff happening here the last five years, a lot of bad habits. There were always issues, many you don’t even know about. Now I believe strongly this was the right thing to do for our future. Now I have a clear vision. This city deserves better, and I want to create that. With DeMarcus’ situation, I basically was stuck.”

Divac explains the stuck comment by noting that the Kings were looking at another non-playoff season with the prospect of either giving Cousins a massive extension this summer or trying to trade him with an expiring contract, which Divac believes would have scared teams away.

On a statement to ESPN earlier this month that Cousins was staying in Sacramento:

“Because I really did not have [good offers] for DeMarcus. In all the conversations I was having with GMs, we weren’t going to get anything. People were scared because of his history. So I felt confident he was going to stay with us, and I was going to work with him, and we would do the best we can. But then I got the offer from the Pelicans a few days before the All-Star Game. That was a difference of, what, two weeks from what I had said to ESPN? Everything changed.”

On recommending anger management therapy for the sometimes volatile star:

“Actually, that happened, and this time, they seemed more receptive. But I wasn’t sure if that was because the contract was coming up or what, so I wasn’t sure how to take it. Again, I wanted change, to start over. Acquire assets, build it right. At the same time play hard, play up-tempo, share the ball. Be a team, grow together.”

On releasing Barnes, who was waived Monday to open a roster spot and allow the deal to be completed:

“I want to build a culture, and he didn’t fit in my culture. Before we were just talking, preaching. But if we’re going to do it, you do it. The good thing about our situation now is that we have some very nice assets, a few more shooting guards, and time to take a look at Willie [Cauley-Stein], Skal [Labissiere] and Malachi Richardson] when he gets healthy, and Georgios Papagiannis. Ty Lawson has been very good for us, and Darren [Collison] is playing well, and he will be a free agent. Kosta [Koufos] has been good. We have [Bogdan] Bogdanovic coming over next season as another asset.”

On taking heat for moving Cousins:

That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.”

Pelicans Waive Omri Casspi, Sign Reggie Williams

February 25:  The Pelicans have now signed Williams to a 10-day contract. The club formally announced the addition in a press release on their official website.

February 24: The Pelicans will waive Omri Casspi and use his roster spot to sign Reggie Williams, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Casspi, acquired from Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, suffered a broken thumb in his team debut on Thursday.

Justin Verrier of ESPN initially reported Casspi would miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury (Twitter link). According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Pelicans felt Casspi’s absence would leave them short-handed on the wing in midst of a playoff hunt. The decision to cut Casspi wasn’t an easy one, as GM Dell Demps resisted the temptation to flip Casspi leading up to the deadline (Twitter links).

If Casspi doesn’t play another game in 2016/17, he’ll have finished the year averaging 6.1 points through a career-low 23 games. As Bobby Marks of The Vertical points out, the Pelicans are only responsible for $906K of Casspi’s salary, unless he’s claimed on waivers (Twitter link).

The 30-year-old Williams appeared in five games with the Pelicans in December, recording 25 points in that span. A veteran of five NBA teams, Williams averaged 18.2 points this season with the D-League’s Oklahoma City Blue. A lifetime 36.6% 3-point shooter, Williams will supplant Casspi as a long distance threat off New Orleans’ bench.

DeMarcus Cousins Talks Vlade, Ranadive, Pelicans

During his introductory press conference as a Pelican on Wednesday, DeMarcus Cousins told reporters that the toughest part about the way he was traded by the Kings was Sacramento’s “dishonesty.” As has been widely reported, the Kings publicly and privately insisted Cousins wouldn’t be traded in the weeks and months leading up to the moment that they agreed to send him to the Pelicans.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Cousins went a step further, suggesting that he views Kings GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive “cowards,” according to Spears. Here are a few of the highlights from Cousins’ candid conversation on the deal and his move from Sacramento to New Orleans:

On whether he wants to talk to Divac or Ranadive:

“Nah. For what? It was a coward move, so I’m pretty sure I will get a coward response. For what? And I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve been there through all same types … I was there with [coach] Mike Malone’s [firing]. I’ve seen how they operate. I know what kind of answer I will get anyway. So, what is the point?”

On when the Kings last told him that he wouldn’t be traded:

“A week before the trade. The sick part about it is that Vlade came in my house with my agent [Jarinn Akana]. We sat in my theater and just talked. That was maybe three weeks ago. We sat there and [he] told me what moves he wanted to make. All of that. I just didn’t understand. … I got a text from the owner right before I went to All-Star. He was asking me about a player, how I felt about him and making a move. The owner! When it happened, I was just in shock. I didn’t understand.”

On whether it will be hard to trust a GM or owner again:

“I’ve always had that issue. I’ve had personal conversations with my agent about that and the whole situation anyway. He tried to steer me in their direction. And I’m like, ‘Nah, I can see through that s—t.’ I’ve always had my doubts. When it comes to that, I’m usually 90%. I knew it. But it was just told to me [no trade] so much.”

On why he still loves Sacramento:

“It’s bigger than basketball. It’s bigger than the Kings organization. It’s bigger than that. The relationships I built out there, I’m more hurt by that. Being away from those relationships and the community, I’m more hurt by that because of the dishonesty and all that s—t with the organization.”

On whether the Pelicans will have a legit shot to keep him for the long term:

“Yeah. I said in the press conference, ‘I’m all in.’ I’m not here to B.S. or waste time. I’m here to win. Whatever the system is, I’m dialed in. I’m all in. I’m not here to waste time.”

And-Ones: Cavs, Bogut, Barnes, Holiday

The Cavs won’t make a decision on Larry Sanders until after the trade deadline, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com passes along (ESPN Now link). Cleveland is also keeping an eye on the Andrew Bogut situation. The Cavs would like to bring the center aboard and they’re expected to be in the mix for him.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Several teams have expressed interest in Matt Barnes, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com tweets. Sources tell Shelburne that he’s waiting until after the trade deadline to make a decision.
  • Jarrett Jack will audition for the Pelicans, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. New Orleans is pursuing backcourt help after trading away several players in the DeMarcus Cousins deal.
  • Point guard and pending free agent Jrue Holiday said the Pelicans “see me as a part of [the future],” the team tweets. The organization is calling Holiday, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis their version of a Big Three.
  • Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis will be the co-captains of the Ghost Ballers, the fourth official team in the new 3-on-3 league, according to a press release on BIG3.com.
  • Thunder center Enes Kanter returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing arm surgery, Royce Young of ESPN.com reports. It’s uncertain whether Kanter, who suffered a broken arm punching a chair on the bench on January 26th, will return to action on Friday against the Lakers.
  • Former Rockets center Yao Ming, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year, has been appointed as president of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to an ESPN.com report. He gave up ownership of the league’s Shanghai Sharks in order to take over his new role.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

Latest On The Pistons, Drummond, Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons are “welcoming offers” for Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to Mark Stein of ESPN.com. It’s likely that Drummond stays with the franchise, as he’s beloved by owner Tom Gores, but the softened stance on the big man opens up the door on a potential trade.

The Blazers had discussions with the Pistons about bringing Drummond to Portland, but those talks ended when Detriot insisted on receiving C.J. McCollum in return, sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Stein notes that the Blazers view McCollum as untouchable.

Stein adds that the Raptors and Pistons have had exploratory conversations on Drummond. Detroit has also engaged in conversations with the Nets. Before DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the Pelicans, the Pistons discussed a deal with the Kings centered around a Cousins-Drummond swap.

Drummond signed a max contract with the team over the summer. Caldwell-Pope will be a restricted after the season and the team is reportedly wary about having to give the shooting guard a sizable deal. Stein notes that the team is looking for at least one first-rounder in exchange for KCP.

If the Pistons hold onto Caldwell-Pope and re-sign him to a max deal in the offseason, they would be near the luxury tax line. That’s not an attractive position to be in for a team that sits below .500. However, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy tells Vince Ellis of the Detriot Free Press that ownership has not issued any mandate to shed salary this season.

DeMarcus Cousins Talks Trade, Kings, Davis

In his introductory press conference today, new Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins told reporters that he still hasn’t spoken to anyone from the Kings since the trade sending him to New Orleans was made (Twitter link). According to Cousins, Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac attempted to call Cousins after the deal was finalized, but Cousins said “it’s done” (Twitter link via Justin Verrier of ESPN.com).

As Cousins explained to the media today, the hardest part about being traded was the “dishonesty” with which the Kings operated (Twitter link via Verrier). Sacramento had vowed multiple times, both publicly and privately, that Cousins wouldn’t be going anywhere this season, and it’s rare for a team to make that sort of promise to a player, then do an abrupt about-face.

Still, Cousins said today that he’s “all-in” on the Pelicans, though he wouldn’t yet comment on the possibility of signing an extension with the team (Twitter link via Ben Golliver of SI.com). Cousins is technically eligible to sign an extension now, though he could get more years and dollars beginning in July, when the new CBA goes into effect. Of course, by changing teams, he’ll miss out on an opportunity to sign a designated veteran extension with Sacramento, reducing his maximum possible earnings by about $30MM.

Cousins, who referred to himself and Anthony Davis as a “fire and ice” combination, said that he tried to sell the former No. 1 overall pick on Sacramento earlier this month when the Kings played the Pelicans (Twitter link via Golliver). Davis returned the favor, sending a text that said “I really want you to come to New Orleans” before the two teams agreed to a trade on Sunday night, Cousins confirmed today (Twitter link).

More DeMarcus Cousins Trade Fallout, Reactions

A player of DeMarcus Cousins‘ caliber doesn’t get moved often, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of notes, reactions, and details to round up after the deal got done. On Monday, we published a pair of posts that covered some of the fallout from the deal. We’ve got more to cover today, so let’s dive in…

  • In a piece for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor examines the ripple effect of the Cousins trade and explains why Vivek Ranadive‘s fondness for Buddy Hield resulted in a deal with the Pelicans. A source tells O’Connor that the Suns were willing to offer multiple first-round picks – including one or both of their selections from the Heat – and that the Nuggets were believed to be willing to part with anyone except Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for Cousins.
  • Pursuing Cousins was a last-ditch attempt by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak to save their jobs with the Lakers, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter). Amick adds that Buss “really wanted” Cousins, though Kupchak handled the talks with Sacramento. Those discussions came to an end when L.A. was unwilling to include Brandon Ingram.
  • Cousins got emotional last night as he tried to say goodbye to Sacramento (Twitter video link via Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140). Cousins told Sean Cunningham of ABC10 (Twitter link) today that he’ll always love the city, and plans to remain a presence in the community. According to Cunningham (via Twitter), Cousins also said today that he still hasn’t talked to Kings GM Vlade Divac — it sounds like that may not happen.
  • The Pelicans have now paired two Kentucky stars in their frontcourt, but don’t expect John Calipari to make the move to the NBA to coach Cousins and Anthony Davis. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show this week, Calipari was asked in jest if he might end up in New Orleans, and the Kentucky head coach shot down the idea, saying that’s it’s “not happening” (link via The Detroit News).

Lakers Notes: Deadline, Magic Johnson, Ingram

Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times is convinced Magic Johnson – recently hired as the Lakers‘ basketball and business advisor – will be calling the shots in the team’s front office. Johnson’s “advisor” title was merely an interim tag, Plaschke speculates, until this coming spring, when Jeanie Buss will rebuild the team’s front office around him.

“Johnson would call the shots that are now called by Jim Buss,” Plaschke writes. “He would be the voice that is currently Mitch Kupchak’s. He would essentially fill the role, both spiritually and practically, that Jerry Buss once entrusted to Jerry West.”

More from the Lakers…

  • Amongst four other questions leading up to the trade deadline, Dan Woike of the L.A. Times wondered “who is doing what?” in the Lakers’ front office. Woike notes that Johnson’s role as team advisor has only made the team’s front office situation murkier. While the team previously voiced a desire to build through the draft and attract a big name free agent over the offseason, Woike asks whether Johnson will persuade the team to trade for a star player. The Lakers could build assets by trading Lou Williams or Nick Young, Woike observes, while preserving their top-three pick in the upcoming draft.
  • Mark Heisler of the L.A. Daily News notes that the Nets, Suns, and Magic are all capable of finishing with worse records than the Lakers, putting their top-three draft pick in jeopardy. While the focus will be on trading Williams or Young, the team will also look to off-load Timofey Mozgov or Luol Deng, if possible.
  • Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead complimented the Lakers’ decision to avoid trading Brandon Ingram in a package for DeMarcus Cousins. Ingram has shown as a 19-year-old prospect, McIntyre argues, while Cousins wouldn’t have made the Lakers a contender this year or next. “Not to mention if the Lakers finish outside the Top 3, they’ll lose their 1st round pick. It would have been a disastrous move that would have set the franchise back even further.”
  • Mark Medina of the O.C. Register emphasized the importance of Luke Walton “playing the kids” in the second half. Medina recommended the team keep Deng and Mozgov on the bench as much as possible, and (assuming they aren’t traded) do the same with Young and Williams. While keeping their draft pick should be L.A.’s top concern, Medina mentioned the importance of improving defensively.

Community Shootaround: Will Another Star Player Be Moved?

Last night’s trade between the Pelicans and Kings came about quickly. Within the span of an hour, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that Vlade Divac had narrowed down his two best offers for DeMarcus Cousins, and that a deal had subsequently been reached with New Orleans. (Twitter links)

We had read variations of “DeMarcus Cousins is not being traded” many times over; once by the Kings‘ GM, and even from Cousins himself. As the February 23 trade deadline approaches, this deal served as a reminder of the exciting and unpredictable nature of the NBA’s trade deadline.

There’s plenty of time for another momentous trade to occur before the deadline, but which player(s) will be moved? As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported this morning, the odds of a Carmelo Anthony trade now appear “very slim.” And, aside from Brandon Jennings playfully teasing a trade on Twitter, it’s unclear whether the Pacers will find a new home for Paul George. What’s more, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bulls are leaning against trading Jimmy Butler.

Here’s what we want to know: which star players, if any, will be moved by Thursday’s deadline? Do you think any trades will be as high-profile as last night’s blockbuster? Which teams’ playoff chances would improve the most from an impact trade?

Please take to the comments section to give us your input on this subject. We look forward to hearing your opinion.

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