DeMarcus Cousins

Pistons Committed To Keeping Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons plan to match any offer that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

The organization is prepared to give the fourth-year shooting guard a maximum deal if that’s what it takes to keep him in Detroit, Ellis adds, with several sources saying he is an important part of the team’s future.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, but his numbers declined after the All-Star break. Ellis states that the Pistons may have viewed the situation differently if they were confident that Stanley Johnson was ready to become a starter, but they believe keeping Caldwell-Pope is vital and they wouldn’t be able to get an adequate replacement because of their cap situation.

Ellis touches on several other Pistons-related matters:

  • Trade talks involving Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will continue this offseason. Ellis states that the organization is becoming impatient with Drummond, with coach/executive Stan Van Gundy saying in Friday’s press conference that he needs a “sense of urgency to elevate his game.” Jackson’s drop in production stemmed from left knee tendinitis that plagued him throughout the season, and Ellis claims the only available replacement who might be an upgrade is the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe.
  • The Pistons believe they have enough young players and future first-rounders to acquire a star this offseason. There were rumors that Drummond was offered to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins before he was sent to New Orleans, and a source told Ellis the Pistons contacted the Pacers about Paul George but never got close to a deal. George has another season left before he can opt out, and Detroit might be interested in taking the chance that it can re-sign him, but only if the price in a trade comes down. Other targets could include Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.
  • Although the Pistons might benefit from a franchise-altering move, Van Gundy said smaller deals are more realistic. “There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better, but I don’t think we’re broken” he said. “Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”

Pelicans Notes: Holiday, Gentry, Cousins

The Pelicans weren’t able to achieve their goal of making the playoffs this season, but GM Dell Demps believes the team is on the right path to reach that pinnacle.

“We have positioned ourselves well for the future,” Demps said (via Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune). “We believe the future is bright. … One of our goals this season was to improve on defense and we did that (from 28th to 8th in defensive efficiency). And there was a time after the All-Star break where our offense started to gel and play better, and we were still playing good defense. So that gives us hope that this team is headed in the right direction.”

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans want to bring Jrue Holiday back, but understand that the point guard has to weigh his options, as Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). “We love Jrue. We love his family. Obviously, we’d like to have him back. He’s got a tough decision to make. We’re going to let that process play out,” Demps said.
  • Demps described the status of the team’s coaching staff as in “evaluation mode,” but added that he likes the direction in which the team is heading, Verrier passes along via Twitter.
  • Coach Alvin Gentry hasn’t spoken to ownership about his future in New Orleans yet, Scott Kushner of The Advocate relays (Twitter links). In reference to successfully incorporating DeMarcus Cousins, Gentry said that he “doesn’t think [the team is] going to have to change that much.”
  • Demps believes the Pelicans are set up well for the future and a major reason why is the Cousins trade, Kushner adds (Twitter links). New Orleans had a record of 7-10 after making the deal, but Demps blames the lack of success on the big man’s health, explaining that the center played with a sore Achilles post All-Star break.

Magic Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.

Southwest Notes: Boogie, Davis, Curry, Anderson, Diallo

Having been eliminated from the playoffs, the Pelicans will regroup and focus on 2017/18, Justin Verrier of ESPN writes. As Alvin Gentry notes, the Pels will benefit from Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins having a full preseason to learn how to play off one another.

“You can see he [Davis] and DeMarcus are going to be fine together,” Gentry said. “You put them in a training camp and you’re able to really hone in on what you want to do and how they can play together. They can be very, very effective. I think we have a chance to move forward.”

Aside from questions surrounding Jrue Holiday‘s free agency, the Pelicans will also have to sort out a roster shuffled by the Cousins trade. Over the season’s remaining four games, Verrier points out, the Pels would be best served to showcase Cheick Diallo and Quinn Cook over their frontcourt veterans.

More from around the Southwest…

  • Mavs coach Rick Carlisle isn’t sure Seth Curry will return by the end of the regular season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. Depending on the condition of Curry’s left shoulder, the team could shut down the former Blue Devil. “Seth’s doing all right,” Carlisle said. “I’m not sure at this point (about him playing in the final three games). It’s not something that we just rubber stamp and send him back out there. I hope he can play a couple of games, but if it’s not the right thing, he won’t do it.”
  • Ryan Anderson will play limited minutes in tonight’s matchup with Detroit, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. An ankle injury had sidelined Anderson for Houston’s last six games. As the postseason nears, Anderson is eager to get back on track. “I’m going to play limited minutes, but that’s the plan,” Anderson told Feigen. “I’m excited about it. I feel strong. I feel good. I feel ready to go. It’s going to take a game or two to get back. That’s why we have these last few games to get ready and get mentally prepared for the playoffs, and physically.”
  • The Pelicans not having a designated D-League affiliate resulted in an “unorthodox” year of development for Diallo. A former Kansas Jayhawks standout, Cheick was assigned to the D-League seven times, playing for three different teams in 2016/17. “I just want to play, you know?” Diallo told Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “I go to any place and I don’t even know the coaches or the players on some of these D-League teams. Sometimes I didn’t even know where I was, whether in North Carolina or Texas or wherever. I just know the D-Leagues helped me a lot and it would help anyone a lot.”

Western Notes: Galloway, Carraro, Mavs, Gasol

Langston Galloway came to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade and didn’t get much playing time initially, but he’s finding the court now as the team begins to rest its veterans. Coach Dave Joerger credits the point guard for staying ready even though he wasn’t receiving consistent minutes, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays.

“I think he has a survivor mindset. … That mindset that, ‘you know what, when I get my opportunity I’m going to be ready’ and he’s done that,” Joerger said. “He’s practiced hard, he’s worked hard and he’s been ready, keeping himself ready for whatever minutes may come.”

Galloway is making $5.2MM this season and he can become a free agent during the summer if he turns down his $5.434MM player option for the 2017/18 campaign.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro has resigned, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Carraro has been with Los Angeles since 2000.
  • It would be shocking if the Mavericks don’t select a point guard in the upcoming draft, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas currently owns the ninth spot in our Reverse Standings and there should be several point guard prospects worthy of being selected at the top of the draft.
  • Offseason addition Pau Gasol added the 3-pointer to his game and Jeff McDonald of the Express News notes that the big man has made over 54% of his attempts from downtown. That figure, which isn’t likely to decrease severely over the next few games, is by far the best percentage for a 7-footer in NBA history. Gasol has fit in well since coming to the Spurs and he has one more season on his contract after this one.

Front Office Shakeups Ahead?

Disappointing seasons could lead to front office changes for at least five teams this summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

The most obvious team headed for a shakeup is Sacramento, which reportedly wants to position someone above GM Vlade Divac and may have interest in former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, despite an official statement denying it. There are also ongoing rumors of a rift between Vivek Ranadive and the minority ownership, which has grown frustrated with the way the team has been managed.

Kyler notes that Ken Catanella was hired as an assistant GM last summer, but wasn’t given the power that many expected him to have.

Change may also be coming to these organizations:

  • Orlando — The Magic seem ready to replace GM Rob Hennigan, with Pistons executive and former Orlando player Pat Garrity as the leading candidate to be offered the job. The Magic had hoped to be playoff contenders after signing Bismack Biyombo and trading for Serge Ibaka, but the new combination never worked out. Orlando is 14th in the East at 27-47, and Ibaka was shipped to Toronto last month. Kyler cites league sources who say several of the Magic’s lower level executives are expecting changes and have started contacting other organizations.
  • New Orleans — A recent report said coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps could both be fired without significant progress by the end of the season. Demps may have bought himself more timee with the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his seven years at the helm. Louisiana native Joe Dumars is close to ownership and is reportedly being considered as a replacement.
  • Phoenix — The Suns will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, and many believe that owner Robert Sarver wants to turn things around quickly. Ryan McDonough has amassed an impressive group of young talent in his four years as GM, but that may not be enough to convince Sarver to keep him.
  • Atlanta — It’s unlikely that coach/executive Mike Budenholzer or GM Wes Wilcox gets replaced, but several staff additions are expected. The Hawks have been shaken by the loss of free agent Al Horford last season and the possible exit of Paul Millsap this summer, along with a late-season losing streak that may knock them out of the playoffs. More voices may be brought on to help Budenholzer and Wilcox with the decision-making process.

Southwest Notes: Boogie/Brow, Randolph, Barea

The Pelicans still have a ways to go following their acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes. Anthony Davis won’t become a free agent until 2020, but if Pelicans ownership doesn’t build a better team around him by then, Davis could leave for greener pastures.

“Cousins is a talented, ball-dominant player, but his biggest talent diminishes Davis’s value,” O’Connor writes. “The Brow’s worst offensive skill is his 3-point shooting, yet when Cousins bulldozes defenders, all Davis can do is float around the arc.”

The ‘elephant in the room’ regarding the Cousins deal, O’Connor writes, is Boogie’s agent stating it is “highly unlikely” DeMarcus would sign an extension following a trade. Despite acquiring Cousins for excellent value, his departure would leave the Pelicans back at square one.

“Right now the Pelicans are a team with zero title hopes, clinging to 8-seed dreams,” O’Connor concludes. “Over league history, stars stuck in those spots don’t stick around too often. Maybe things will be different with Davis, but it won’t be unless the Pelicans make drastic changes before time’s up.”

More from around the Southwest…

  • Grizzlies vet Zach Randolph shared his memories of playing in the tournament with Michigan State. “When we went to the Final Four. Playing in front of our home crowd and having all the State fans being there in a big arena, it was a great experience,” Z-Bo told Grizzlies.com. Vince Carter also spoke about the experience of participating in March Madness, talking up the Final Four-bound Tar Heels. “I think they’ve established themselves as a one seed,” Carter said. “It’s all about luck and a little opportunity, but I think if they just stay disciplined and be who they are, they should be ok.”
  • Donatas Motiejunas spoke about the contract debacle he endured with the Rockets. “I try not to look at it. At the end, everything is going to be cleared up,” D-Mo told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle“It was a long time for me not playing basketball of course. There were a lot of options, I thought about playing in Europe, a lot of teams were offering me a contract.” A free agent-to-be, Montiejunas has accumulated four DNPs in New Orleans’ last seven games.
  • Mavs coach Rick Carlisle liked the aggression his team showed following J.J. Barea‘s altercation with Blake Griffin. “That was such a blatant flop, I mean how physical did you think it was?” Carlisle told Eddie Sefko of Dallas News. “The nature of that play was aggressive. It got our fans going. I think it got us going. And it was kind of one of those situations where you take a stand. And that’s how it’s got to be from here on out for our team.” While the original ruling on the court was a Flagrant-2 foul on Barea, Carlisle hopes the league can overturn the call.

Southwest Notes: Motiejunas, Davis, Anderson

Donatas Motiejunas passed up on a contract that could have paid him as much as $37MM over four years with the Rockets, deciding instead to sign a one-year minimum salary arrangement with the Pelicans. The power forward hasn’t played much in New Orleans, but he doesn’t regret his decision, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.

“Life is too short to regret for something,” Motiejunas said. “We’ll move aside and look forward. I try not to look at it. At the end, everything is going to be cleared up. Everyone’s going to forget that situation. I try not to think about it.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Motiejunas was “fighting for his rights,” for a fair deal, according to his agent, B.J. Armstrong, as Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com relays (ESPN Now link). At the time, Motiejunas was considering options outside the NBA.  “It was a long time for me not playing basketball of course,” Motiejunas said. “There were a lot of options, I thought about playing in Europe, a lot of teams were offering me a contract.”
  • Although the Pelicans‘ February acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins was a good step forward in building a competitive roster around Anthony Davis, the team still has a ways to go, and doesn’t have a ton of flexibility, writes Kevin O’ Connor of The Ringer. Anthony Davis can’t become a free agent until 2020, but if New Orleans doesn’t take steps toward contention soon, speculation about an eventual departure will grow louder.
  • Ryan Anderson will miss the next two weeks with an ankle injury, Walkins passes along in a full-length piece. The power forward is expected to be back before the end of the season. “The important thing is he can play two or three games before we get into the playoffs,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And it looks like he will be on that timetable, we won’t push it, and we’ll deal with whatever and hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

Milo Taibi contributed to this post

Western Notes: Clippers, Cousins, Harden, Chandler

Clippers coach and team president Doc Rivers indicated there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll bring in another player in the near future, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. The player could come from the D League or from the buyout market, Oram continues, and would require the club to waive someone from the current 15-man roster. Forward Omri Casspi, who was bought out by the Pelicans, isn’t a likely target despite a recent report that the Clippers had an interest in him, Oram adds.“We’re looking at everything,” Rivers told Oram.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • The NBA rescinded the latest technical assessed to Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, sources told ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier. The technical, which he was given during a loss to Miami on Wednesday, would have been his 19th this season. He will receive his third one-game suspension this season from the league if he reaches the 20-technical mark.
  • Rockets guard James Harden said he will hire Diana Day as his agent, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Day previously handled marketing and public relations for his former agent, Rob Pelinka. Day must first receive certification from the players association, Feigen adds. Pelinka relinquished his duties as an agent to become the Lakers’ GM.
  • Veteran center Tyson Chandler could have been dealt to a contender prior to the trade deadline but opted to stay with the Suns, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. Chandler told team executives in a meeting prior to a deadline he was content to take a reduced role in Phoenix and aid in the development of the team’s younger players. “I didn’t want to go nowhere,” Chandler told Haller. “I wanted to be with these dudes and finish it out.”
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy believes the Jazz’s signing of veteran swingman Joe Johnson was one of the most underrated moves of the past offseason. Johnson, who inked a two-year, $22MM contract as a free agent, is averaging 8.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.7 APG while shooting over 40% from long range in 22.9 MPG. “I think they made a great acquisition with Joe Johnson,” Van Gundy said. “A lot of people thought Joe was really on the decline and he’s really bounced back.”

And-Ones: Brown, Aldridge, Knicks, Pelicans

Rookie Jaylen Brown wasn’t projected to make an immediate impact in the league, but he’s impressing the Celtics with his ability to contribute,  Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com writes.

“I’m not sure I would have thought that [Brown] would be where he is right now, just because I thought that he had a lot of things that he really would have to improve on to be able to add value to winning at this level,” coach Brad Stevens said. “And he’s proven that he can pick things up on the fly and that he can play at a high level. I know there’s going to be ups and downs with anybody — and certainly with a 20-year-old — but he’s got a chance to be pretty darn good.”

The rookie is averaging 11.6 points per game while shooting 45.8% from behind the arc since the All-Star break, which is the highest mark on the team.

Boston has been patient as it attempts to construct a title contender. Forsberg notes that had the team dealt for Jimmy Butler, Brown would likely be playing for the Bulls. If the Hornets had accepted the bounty of picks for the No. 9 selection in the 2015 draft, Boston would have traded away Brooklyn’s 2016 pick and it wouldn’t have been able to draft Brown.

The Celtics are constantly looking for ways to acquire talent and they are on an endless search for another star. However, due to great asset management and excellent scouting, they may already have everything they are looking for on the roster.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich said LaMarcus Aldridge will undergo more testing to determine the cause of the minor heart arrhythmia he suffered earlier this week, Tom Osborn of Spurs Nation relays. “They did some tests today and they are going to continue it on Monday. He is going to see some people on Monday and based on what they do and see, we’ll know better what we are really looking at. But we don’t know right now,” Popovich said.
  • The Knicks are trying to get back into the playoff picture, but it may be better for the team to tank with the hopes of landing a higher pick in the upcoming draft, Al Iannazzone of Newsday opines. In his piece, Iannazzone highlights some prospects that could help the franchise compete in the long-term.
  • The Pelicans have struggled since they acquired DeMarcus Cousins, but John Reid of The Times-Picayune believes it’s a result of the talent around Cousins and Anthony Davis. New Orleans has won just three of eight contests since the trade, though Cousins missed one of the wins because he was suspended.
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