DeMarcus Cousins

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, Free Agents, Brogdon, G. Williams

The Celtics are expected to apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Danilo Gallinari‘s ACL tear, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A report Friday indicates that Gallinari hasn’t given up hope of playing toward the end of the upcoming season, but it appears to be a long shot given his age and the severity of the injury.

If the request is approved, Boston’s DPE would be about $3.2MM, which is half of Gallinari’s salary for 2022/23. The team would be able use that amount to sign a free agent, claim a player off waivers or acquire a player through trade, though Himmelsbach views that last option as unlikely because the Celtics already have two trade exceptions that are worth more.

Boston signed Gallinari in July to provide veteran help off the bench and another three-point shooting threat. His contract includes a $6.8MM player option for next season that he seems almost certain to exercise in light of the injury.

There’s more from Boston:

  • With Gallinari likely unavailable for the entire season, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe looks at some options that are still available on the free agent market. He points to Carmelo Anthony, who might welcome the chance to end his career on a title contender, along with DeMarcus Cousins, Jeremy Lamb, Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Washburn notes that Kevin Durant‘s trade demand worked to the Celtics’ advantage because it froze the free agent market for several weeks, leaving a wealth of veteran players available in September.
  • Malcolm Brogdon may used as the primary backup wing to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in July, has the size to handle the role at 6’5″ and is probably the team’s best defensive option at that position. Robb notes that it would also provide more backcourt minutes for Derrick White and Payton Pritchard.
  • Grant Williams will likely ask for a starting salary in the mid-teens in his extension negotiations, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb doesn’t believe president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will meet that price, even though Williams becomes more important with Gallinari sidelined.

Celtics’ Final Roster Spots Expected To Be Up For Grabs In Camp

The Celtics are currently carrying 12 players on standard contracts who are considered virtual locks to make their 15-man regular season roster and are preparing to hold an open competition for the final spots, according to Jay King of The Athletic.

Former first-round picks Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo recently agreed to training camp contracts that will give them an opportunity to fight for roster spots this fall. According to King, two-way restricted free agent Brodric Thomas and former Celtics forward Justin Jackson are also considered “strong candidates” to join the competition for those roster openings.

Assuming Vonleh and Caboclo officially completed their reported deals and Thomas and Jackson sign contracts of their own, the Celtics would still have two spots available on their 20-man offseason roster, so they could further expand the competition.

Free agent swingman Matt Ryan, who is fully recovered from a summer ankle injury, appears less likely to return to Boston, despite finishing last season on a two-way deal with the team and playing for the Celtics’ Summer League squad in Las Vegas, says King.

Additionally, while it’s possible the Celtics will add at least one more frontcourt player to vie for a roster spot, the team isn’t expected to go after a veteran like DeMarcus Cousins or Dwight Howard, according to King, who says the front office seems to prefer younger players who have room to improve and are willing to accept modest roles. Currently, Luke Kornet projects to be a rotation player in the frontcourt, with two-way big man Mfiondu Kabengele providing depth.

The Celtics’ projected tax bill will be worth keeping in mind as the club auditions players for its open roster spots. If ownership is concerned about the rising cost of the roster, Boston could enter the season with just 14 players on standard contracts instead of 15, meaning only two spots would be up for grabs this fall instead of three.

As King observes, current two-way player JD Davison could also emerge as a candidate for a promotion if he looks good in the preseason, since rookie minimum contracts for a team’s second-round draftees cost less for tax purposes than identical contracts signed by undrafted free agents.

Western Notes: Liddell, Jordan, Knight, Hardy

Pelicans rookie forward E.J. Liddell has undergone surgery to reconstruct the torn ACL in his right knee, the team announced in a press release. The surgery was performed Monday by Dr. Scott Montgomery and Liddell remains out indefinitely.

Liddell, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, suffered the injury during a Vegas Summer League contest.

The former Ohio State forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season and was projected as a first-round pick. He remains unsigned and the Pelicans don’t currently have an opening on the 15-man roster, though they have a two-way slot available.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Why did the Nuggets choose DeAndre Jordan as a backup big rather than re-signing DeMarcus Cousins? According to Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com, there were concerns about Cousins staying healthy for a full season. He battled calf and foot injuries after signing with Denver last season. The Nuggets also wanted more rim protection at backup center and a lob threat for Denver’s current group of guards.
  • Nathan Knight‘s two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Timberwolves includes a $350K partial guarantee in year one and a $380,718 partial guarantee and team option in year two, Hoops Rumors has learned. Knight, who was on a two-way deal with Minnesota last season, signed a standard contract over the weekend. The 6’10” forward appeared in 37 NBA games last season.
  • New Jazz coach Will Hardy has spent a lot of his time this month getting acquainted with the players on the current roster, he told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “The conversations with the players, they have been great,” the former Celtics assistant said. “I’ve talked to all of our guys, and some in person. My expectation is to get to know each other as people before we get to know each other as co-workers. I want us to create and develop trust with each other. We want an environment of honesty with each other.”

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Hyland, Jokic, Connelly, Cousins

When Jamal Murray was practicing with the Nuggets in April and weighing the possibility of returning from his ACL tear, he was more apprehensive on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, Mike Singer of The Denver Post said on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto.

“He was concerned about fighting around screens, getting dinged, diving for loose balls, and that half-second hesitancy that might still be there as a result of that ACL tear he had,” Singer said.

However, that hesitancy was no longer evident when Murray practiced with Denver’s Summer League team a few weeks ago, according to Singer, who suggests that Denver’s decision to trade Monte Morris signals the club is confident in Murray’s ability to return strong in 2022/23.

The Morris trade was also a sign that Bones Hyland will have a bigger role going forward, according to Scotto, who has heard that the 2021 first-rounder has put on six pounds of muscle this offseason and is working out twice a day as he prepares for a minutes bump in the fall.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Singer suggests that if Morris had reached free agency this summer, he likely would’ve earned a deal in the range of $14-15MM annually, as opposed to the $9MM he’ll make on his current deal. The Nuggets’ reluctance to pay that much to retain the point guard once his contract expires in 2024 was one reason why the team was willing to move him. As for Will Barton, his age (32 in January), injury history, and defensive limitations were factors in Denver’s decision to trade him, per Singer.
  • People around the Nuggets were “pinching themselves” when Nikola Jokic signed a five-year extension to remain with the team and appreciated that those negotiations were drama-free, according to Singer. As Singer points out, Denver is typically viewed as “a place where (star) free agents don’t want to come,” so Jokic’s decision to commit long-term was a testament to the relationship he has built with the franchise. Of course, the fact that he’ll be in line for a projected $270MM (an NBA record) on the five-year deal probably didn’t hurt either.
  • Singer believes that if the Nuggets had offered president of basketball operations Tim Connelly an extension worth about $5-6MM per year before the Timberwolves began pursuing him in earnest, he likely would’ve been “eager to stay” in Denver. However, the Nuggets were unwilling to match the five-year, $40MM offer Minnesota eventually made.
  • Singer got the impression there was some “friction” behind the scenes with DeMarcus Cousins last season, which is one reason why the Nuggets signed DeAndre Jordan this summer to fill that backup center role.

Northwest Notes: Prince, Wolves, Nuggets, Jordan, Arms

Taurean Prince‘s two-year extension with the Timberwolves was initially reported to be worth $16MM, but its base value actually comes in at just $14.56MM, and the second year is non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Prince’s new deal also includes $195K in likely incentives per year, along with another $870K in annual unlikely incentives, so if he plays out the full two-year contract and maxes out its value, it’ll be worth $16.69MM in total.

The second year of Prince’s new deal would become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 28, 2023.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • It might be a while before we know if the Timberwolves “won” the deal for Rudy Gobert, and even evaluating what constitutes a win will be complicated, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. However, Rand views the deal as trading “nine dimes for a dollar,” and believes it’s the kind of move the team needed to make to be serious about contending for a title.
  • Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required) acknowledges that the Nuggets‘ deal with DeAndre Jordan may not have been an exciting way to kick off free agency, but says the team did its homework on Jordan, vetted his engagement, and felt comfortable bringing him into the locker room. “They’d learned enough about former center DeMarcus Cousins that they weren’t willing to make the same commitment,” Singer writes.
  • Both Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports and Singer (Twitter links) believe that Adonis Arms, who is signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Nuggets, is a strong candidate to eventually fill Denver’s open two-way slot. Currently, Collin Gillespie is the only Nugget signed to a two-way deal.
  • In case you missed it, our Community Shootaround discussion on Monday explored what’s next for the Jazz following the blockbuster Gobert trade.

Northwest Notes: Cousins, Nuggets, Mitchell, Timberwolves

The Nuggets have strong interest in re-signing backup center DeMarcus Cousins, according to Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com. Cousins began the season in Milwaukee and finished it in Denver, averaging 8.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 31 regular-season contests and 10.6 PPG and 3.4 RPG in five postseason outings. Whether Denver makes that move depends upon the market for Cousins, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

We have more from from the Northwest Division:

  • Having Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back in the lineup will certainly boost the Nuggets’ offense next season. However, they need to get much better defensively to truly become a championship team, Mike Singer of the Denver Post notes. The club was 24th defensively in points allowed in the paint and also aided the opponent’s cause with careless turnovers. “To be a dangerous, deep playoff team, you have to have an elite defense,” coach Michael Malone said.
  • If the Jazz don’t trade Donovan Mitchell, should they make him the primary ballhandler over Mike Conley? Sarah Todd of the Deseret News believes so. Putting Mitchell in that role next to a larger complement of wing players makes the most sense if Utah retains him, Todd says.
  • While the postseason experience will certainly help the Timberwolves down the road, they’ve got a lot of growing up to do, Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune opines. Scoggins notes that Minnesota gave away three double-digit fourth-quarter leads against Memphis due to a lack of maturity and composure, abetted by poor shot selection. The fact that D’Angelo Russell played his way out of the crunch time lineup also needs to addressed.

Nuggets Notes: Offseason, Rivers, Cousins, Draft

Simply getting Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) on the court again in the fall will raise the Nuggets’ ceiling for the 2022/23 season. However, head coach Michael Malone suggested in his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that the team has to do more than just wait for everyone to get healthy in order to capitalize on its title window.

“This might be the biggest offseason, at least for me, in my perspective, since I’ve been here,” Malone said, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “… We have a window, and I think windows are only open so long. We have a 27-year-old phenom, who will hopefully soon be named a back-to-back MVP. We have to capitalize while we have a player, a special player in Nikola (Jokic), and do everything we can as an organization — and I know we will — to put the best players around him.”

As Singer writes, it will be important for the Nuggets to get the right “fringe” pieces around their perennial MVP candidate using the No. 21 overall pick in the draft and/or their cap exceptions in free agency. Denver was among the league’s worst teams at protecting the rim in 2021/22, so a backup center to help spell Jokic and a wing who can take some defensive pressure off of him could be priorities this summer, Singer adds.

“You can’t bleed at the rim the way we bled at the rim this year,” Malone said.

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Both Malone and general manager Calvin Booth spoke highly of free-agent-to-be Austin Rivers on Wednesday. As Singer relays (via Twitter), Malone praised Rivers’ defensive tenacity and said his two years in Denver “speak for themselves,” while Booth said the veteran guard is a player the team would look to bring back.
  • Asked about how big a priority it is to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, Booth said the Nuggets will talk to the veteran center’s reps, but Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) didn’t get the sense that Cousins is a lock to be back.
  • The Nuggets like some draft prospects in the No. 21 range, but aren’t “married” to their pick and will explore all their options with it, according to Booth (Twitter link via Singer).
  • Booth hinted that Denver will look to add more shooting this summer. You don’t have to watch basketball for five minutes to know that Joker likes to have shooters around him,” the GM said (Twitter link via Singer).

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Offseason, Future

Nuggets backup center DeMarcus Cousins was highly productive in the team’s first-round loss to Golden State, carving out a niche on Denver’s bench, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

DeMarcus, to be playing 10 minutes a game and to be having the productivity that he’s had, and the efficiency that he’s had, is really remarkable,” said head coach Michael Malone. “And I told him after the game (Game 4), you know, everybody wants to play more, but it’s important for DeMarcus to know the impact he’s having is real.”

In the five-game series, Cousins averaged 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in just 11.4 minutes per night, sporting a blistering shooting line of .655/.667/.733. He scored 19 points in 15 minutes during Denver’s 102-98 Game 5 defeat on Wednesday.

He gives us a calming influence, somebody that we can — instead of trying to go up and down, go crazy — settle down, play inside-out basketball,” Malone said. “He’s gotten JaMychal Green layups and dunks at the rim, he’s kicked out for open threes, and then the last part of it, now you can step out on the perimeter and play pick-and-roll with Bones Hyland. We know DeMarcus sets really good, physical screens, and he gets guys open.”

Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he says he’s not sure if he’ll be back with the Nuggets next season, per Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com.

I honestly don’t know what the future holds,” Cousins said. “A lot in this short time has transpired. I’m still trying to get over the fact that G.P. (Gary Payton II) hit that big shot, right? I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. I’m happy to be a part of this group. I’m happy with the opportunity that was given to me from Mike [Malone], [president] Tim [Connelly], [general manager Calvin] Booth. To answer that question, I can’t right now. I don’t know what’s future holds.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Count Will Barton and Monte Morris among the teammates who hope Cousins is brought back for 2022/23, Kennedy writes in the same article. “Anytime you have a guy like that, you always want him back,” Barton said. “Like I say, he’s still DeMarcus Cousins — a guy who, when he’s healthy, is a very good player. Those are not my decisions; I’m not in management. Obviously, if I have a voice in the fight, I definitely would love to have him back. He was big for us on and off the court, [a] presence in the locker room. We’ll see what happens.” Morris echoed that sentiment: “Signing Boogie, man… I love him to death. A guy that would pick up 19 points in a do-or-die elimination game just shows how much heart he has, how much love he has for the game. I’m definitely proud of him… He’s a great guy.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan explore Denver’s roster possibilities in their offseason guides.
  • Malone is optimistic about what Denver’s future holds despite the team’s first-round exit, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “The future’s definitely bright,” Malone said. “I think we also have to understand that Jamal Murray to start the season next year is not going to be the Jamal Murray [we know] right away. I think it’s going to be a buildup, him getting comfortable and confident out there.”
  • Warriors forward/center Draymond Green was effusive in his praise of Nikola Jokic after Game 5, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and so skilled,” Green said of Jokic. “Usually when you have a guy that’s that talented and that skilled, they’re a little soft. He’s far, far from soft. He’s an absolutely incredible player.”
  • In case you missed it, Jokic said if the Nuggets offer him a five-year, super-max extension this offseason, he plans to accept it.

Monty Williams, DeMarcus Cousins Fined By NBA

Suns head coach Monty Williams is the latest NBA figure to be penalized by the league for criticizing its officiating. The NBA announced on Tuesday in a press release that Williams has been docked $15K for his comments following Phoenix’s Game 4 loss in New Orleans on Sunday.

The Pelicans shot 42 free throws in their 118-103 win, compared to just 15 for the Suns, a disparity that Williams called attention to during his post-game press conference.

“You can slice it any way you want to,” Williams said on Sunday, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “In a playoff game that physical, (the disparity) is amazing. Coaches shouldn’t have to come up to the microphone and feel like they’re going to get their heads cut off for speaking the truth.”

Sixers center Joel Embiid and Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins were also hit with fines on Monday for their comments about the officiating.

Meanwhile, Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins has been fined $15K by the NBA for kicking towels into the spectator stands, according to a press release from the league.

The incident occurred midway through the second quarter of Denver’s Game 4 win over Golden State on Sunday. Cousins, having been called for a foul and subbed out of the game, expressed his frustration by kicking a pile of towels next to the bench, causing some of them to land on fans (video link).

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Malone, Jokic, Gordon

DeMarcus Cousins was close to joining the Nuggets much sooner, but the Bucks moved in and signed him first, he said in an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Cousins worked out for Denver general manager Calvin Booth in late November, calling the process “real quiet and hush.” He said the Nuggets wanted to sign him at the time, but didn’t have an open roster spot.

The Bucks apparently heard about the workout and brought their entire staff for a look at Cousins. They signed him immediately after his audition and he played there until January 6, being waived before his salary would have become guaranteed for the rest of the season. Cousins still doesn’t understand what went wrong in Milwaukee.

“They put all their cards on the table, told me they needed me,” he said. “They were even talking long term, and that’s why, like I said, that whole situation, it just didn’t make sense. What disappointed me the most was more so just going through my grind. For me, everything felt right. We were winning games. I showed that I’m healthy. I fit in Milwaukee perfect next to the guys that were out there. I put up numbers. Everything worked out. I don’t know. Just for it to happen the way it did.”

Cousins adds that the Nuggets called him the next day, so he never gave any thought to retiring. He signed three 10-day contracts with Denver before receiving a deal that covered the rest of the regular season.

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Coach Michael Malone stressed the need for unity after his team melted down in Monday’s Game 2 loss to the Warriors, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Not only was Nikola Jokic ejected, but Will Barton and Cousins had a heated exchange on the sidelines in the third quarter and had to be separated. “We’ve got to stick together,” Malone said. “We can’t splinter in adverse times. I just want to make sure as we get on this plane to go home that we get on that plane together, knowing that we have a chance to get our first win at home in a few days. That’s our whole focus.”
  • Jokic is in danger of becoming the sixth player in history to lose in the first round in the same season he was named MVP, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. Jokic, who was announced Sunday as one of the finalists for the award, has been frustrated by the officiating in the first two games of the series, saying, “I mean, it’s pretty much everything,” when asked what led to his ejection.
  • The Nuggets need more production from Aaron Gordon, who has missed 13 of his 19 shots so far and has a combined 15 points in the two games, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “Aaron Gordon has to be in attack mode,” Malone said. “I don’t want him settling for 3s. Put people in the rim; that’s when Aaron Gordon is at his best.”