DeMarcus Cousins

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Lakers, Cousins Have Mutual Interest In Offseason Deal

DeMarcus Cousins is currently on waivers after being released by the Lakers on Sunday to make room for Markieff Morris. However, sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that both sides have expressed interest in pursuing a new deal in the offseason.

Even after being cut by the Lakers, Cousins is expected to continue rehabbing his torn ACL at the club’s practice facility. Not being on the roster means the big man can no longer travel with the team or sit on the bench during games, but the two sides are clearly still on good terms.

There was a belief that Cousins’ close relationship with multiple Lakers players – including former Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis – and the possibility of recovering from his ACL tear by the playoffs might keep his roster spot safe. However, despite some optimism about Cousins’ rehab timetable, the idea that he’d be able to contribute in the postseason this spring always seemed overly aggressive, as I noted last week when head coach Frank Vogel left the door open for the 29-year-old’s return.

In recent years, players like Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker, and Kristaps Porzingis, who have suffered torn ACLs, have taken at least 11-12 months to make it back, and it has generally taken them much longer than that to look like their old selves. Cousins tore his left ACL last August, after previously recovering from a torn Achilles and torn quad in the same leg.

By the time opening night arrives in 2020/21, Cousins will have had upwards of 14 months to recover from the injury, so that seems like a safer, more realistic target date. As such, waiving him instead of a healthy bench player was the logical move for the Lakers.

Because they’ve waived him, the Lakers will no longer have Cousins’ Non-Bird rights this offseason, but after so many major injuries – and with so many teams lacking cap flexibility – he’s unlikely to command significant offers on the open market. L.A. could potentially bring him back using the minimum salary exception or part of the mid-level exception.

It’s worth noting that if Cousins were to sign a new one-year contract with the Lakers in July and play out that deal, the club would hold his Early Bird rights in the summer of 2021. That would give L.A. the flexibility to offer him a significant raise if he has a strong bounce-back season.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Cousins, Morris Twins, LeBron

Anthony Davis has experienced a few injury scares during his first season with the Lakers, including one Friday night, but he’s ending concerns about his ability to stay healthy, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. Davis missed almost an entire quarter after bumping knees Friday with Jaren Jackson Jr., but returned to finish off a 28-point, 13-rebound, seven-block performance.

Davis has appeared in 47 of L.A.’s 54 games so far, with the only extended absence being caused by a hard fall in early January that resulted in lower back soreness. It’s a welcome change for Lakers’ fans after Davis’ injury-filled history in New Orleans.

“As long as they tell me it’s nothing serious, I’ll go out there and play,” Davis said. “You don’t know until you check all the boxes. But anytime they tell me I’m cleared and it’s not going to hurt me to go out there and play, I’m going to try to go out there and play.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • The Lakers plan to waive injured center DeMarcus Cousins today to open a roster spot for Markieff Morris, but Cousins will remain with the team while he rehabs his torn ACL, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link from Stadium). Despite not playing, Cousins has been a valuable addition to the locker room, Charania adds, and the organization enjoys having him around.
  • With Markieff headed to the Lakers, twin brother Marcus Morris, now on the Clippers, envisions a scenario where they carpool to a potential playoff series, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We’re two competitive guys, that’s gonna be like really fun,” Marcus said. “Probably gonna ride to the game together. That don’t bother us, to have to go out there and compete — we’re pros, and both of us gonna go hard and both are gonna do the best we can do for our team.”
  • Coach Frank Vogel is looking forward to having the playoff version of LeBron James on his side after frequently watching him from the opposing bench, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Vogel’s Pacers teams suffered three playoff losses to James when he was on the Heat, including twice in the Eastern Conference finals. “He knew everything we were running before we even called it out,” Vogel recalled. “He knew stuff was coming with his anticipation, and intelligence went into that. The determination of whatever it would take to beat us, that is what he was going to do.”

Texas Notes: J. Green, Carroll, Cousins, Doncic

Jeff Green looked right at home in his debut with the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. In his first game since being waived by the Jazz on December 24, Green scored 17 points in 24 minutes as Houston won big Thursday night at Golden State.

“I just came ready to play,” he said. “I mean, I’m in shape, so I just tried to do whatever I needed to do to help the team win. I have a beautiful wife who allowed me to do what I needed to do and that’s all I need to say about that. I have great trainers at home and when I was home for this time, my wife allowed to me to really focus on what I needed to do.”

The Rockets are Green’s ninth NBA team since entering the league in 2007, making him one of seven active players to be with that many organizations, Feigen adds. Ish Smith is the active leader with 11 teams.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • DeMarre Carroll, another new Rocket, had a disappointing stay with the Spurs, but his presence on the team will be missed, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News (Twitter link). “I’ve known DeMarre since college, we came in together, played with him in Toronto,” DeMar DeRozan said. “Just a great guy. It’s part of the league. Everyone comes and goes, but friendships and memories last forever.”  Carroll appeared in just 15 games after signing with the Spurs last summer.
  • The Mavericks might have been willing to gamble on DeMarcus Cousins, but they don’t want to part with anyone on their current roster, owner Mark Cuban tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The veteran center has missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee, but recently offered hope that he might be ready for the playoffs. The Lakers plan to waive Cousins and add Markieff Morris once he clears waivers tomorrow. “We don’t have any roster spots,” Cuban said. “If we had a roster spot, we would probably do something, but we don’t. And there’s nobody we want to release.”
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic sat out tonight’s game with a sore ankle, but coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect it to be a long-term issue, Townsend tweets.

Lakers To Waive DeMarcus Cousins

The Lakers will waive injured center DeMarcus Cousins to open up a roster spot, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne report (via Twitter).

The Lakers are planning to sign forward Markieff Morris, who was bought out by Detroit on Friday, assuming he clears waivers.

Cousins signed a one-year, $3.5MM contract to join another contender after spending an injury-plagued season with Golden State. Cousins suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in August but expressed hope this week that he could return for the postseason.

The front office opted to fortify the team’s frontcourt with versatile forward who’s healthy rather than attempt to integrate Cousins into the rotation during the playoffs.

The Lakers will likely wait until Sunday night, when Morris would clear waivers,  to officially part ways with Cousins, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cousins has approximately $1MM left on his contract and a claiming team would gain his non-Bird rights. The $1.75MM Disabled Player Exception the Lakers were awarded after Cousins’ injury can still be used before the March 10 expiration date (Twitter link).

DeMarcus Cousins Hopes To Join Lakers For Playoffs

DeMarcus Cousins continues to recover from a torn ACL in his left knee, but the big man hopes to return to the court to help Los Angeles in the playoffs.

“We got a big team. It’s going to be some bump, for sure,” Cousins said on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” (h/t Dave McMenamin of “We got so many guys with different abilities. I mean, I can spot up. ‘Bron [LeBron James] is going to draw everybody whenever he decides to move. I’m pretty confident I can knock down the shot. We got shooters all over the floor. I mean, I can play-make. Like, it’s pick your poison.”

Cousins signed a one-year deal with the Lakers this offseason and hasn’t suited up for the club yet. Coach Frank Vogel isn’t closing the door on the center joining the rotation if healthy.

“There is no date, and there’s really no specifics on it in terms of, I’m not even sure where he’s at with exactly what he’s doing day to day. I just still know he’s a long way away, but they’ve said they’re not ruling out him returning. That’s really all I can give you,” Vogel said. “I just know he’s not close. As he starts getting close, it could be a review thing, because [the training staff will] come to me and let me know.”

Vogel: Cousins Still Could Return For Playoffs

A torn left ACL has sidelined Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins for the entire 2019/20 season so far. However, head coach Frank Vogel still isn’t ruling out the possibility of a Cousins return this spring, as he said over the weekend in Chicago (video link; hat tip to CBS Sports).

“He’s on track to get healthy by the playoffs and we’ll have to see where he’s at with rhythm and conditioning and timing and all that stuff,” Vogel said. “But there’s a possibility he returns this season, yes.”

That ACL tear, suffered last August, is the third major left leg injury Cousins has dealt with since the start of the 2017/18 season. His ’17/18 campaign with the Pelicans came to an early end when he tore his Achilles tendon. After making it back from that injury for the Warriors in 2018/19, he suffered a torn quad at the start of the postseason.

While it would be great to see Cousins get healthy and return to action during the postseason, that sounds like a pretty aggressive recovery timeline, even if the Lakers make a deep playoff run. In recent years, players like Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker, and Kristaps Porzingis, who have suffered torn ACLs, have taken at least 11-12 months to make it back. And it has generally taken them much longer than that to look like their old selves.

Even if Cousins is ready to go at some point this spring, it’s unclear what sort of role he could have in a playoff series. Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee have done an admirable job handing the center position this season, with Anthony Davis also spending some time at the five, and Cousins won’t have any in-game experience with the current roster to develop chemistry.

Although I’m skeptical that Cousins will be able to make a comeback and make an impact for the Lakers this spring, Vogel’s comments – as well as Cousins’ close relationship with several teammates, including Davis – suggest that his roster spot should be safe if the team makes an addition on the buyout market in the coming weeks.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, Johnson, Clippers, Morris

LeBron James‘ name was one of 44 included on USA Basketball’s preliminary list of finalists for the program’s 2020 Olympic roster on Monday. Many of the players on that list won’t get the opportunity to suit up for Team USA in Tokyo, but it’s safe to say that one of the final 12 roster spots will be reserved for James — if he wants it. For now, he’s not ready to fully commit, as Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times relays.

“It’s always predicated on: one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season — I hope to make a long playoff run,” James said. “And then where my mind is and then where my family’s head is. So it’s a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat.”

It was no surprise that James and Anthony Davis were among the 44 names on Team USA’s list on Monday. Kyle Kuzma‘s inclusion wasn’t a shock either, since he participated in the program’s World Cup camp last fall. Two more Lakers were also on the list — JaVale McGee and former Team USA center Dwight Howard.

“Spectacular,” James said of the Lakers having five players on the list. “It’s amazing. We’re very well represented with the Lake Show representing the red, white and blue. So it’s a pretty cool thing.”

Here’s more on the Lakers and their L.A. rivals, the Clippers:

  • After being waived by Phoenix on Monday, Tyler Johnson is on track to clear waivers on Wednesday. Chris Mannix of writes that both the Lakers and Clippers are “expected to check in” on the veteran guard.
  • Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register examines the Lakers‘ options on the buyout market, suggesting that injured big man DeMarcus Cousins may not be the player released if the team needs a roster spot, since he’s close to Anthony Davis and others on the roster.
  • Speaking of Davis, he told reporters on Monday that he’s confident the Lakers have a championship-caliber roster even after standing pat at the trade deadline (video link via ESPN).
  • The Clippers were active at the deadline, acquiring Marcus Morris from New York in a three-team trade. Jovan Buha of The Athletic spoke to the new Clippers forward about joining a title contender, the team’s 2019 free agent pitch to him, and his fit. “You can put me anywhere,” Morris said. “I can space out really well, give guys space, score it any way. I’m just ready to do what it takes for the team to win. I’m excited to get started, but you’re going to see how well I fit. … I think it’s going to be very beneficial for both sides.”

Lakers Notes: Augustin, Collison, Rondo, Kuzma

D.J. Augustin could be an option for the Lakers as they seek help at point guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. A source tells Deveney the team would be the front-runner to land Darren Collison if he’s serious about returning to the NBA, but the Lakers’ front office is exploring other options as well.

LeBron James has been handling most of the point guard duties, with help from 33-year-old Rajon Rondo and combo guards Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley. Offseason addition Quinn Cook has fallen out of the rotation.

Augustin, who has an expiring $7.25MM contract, would provide a more dependable option in the postseason. Deveney speculates that he might be available if the Magic decide to point toward next season after this week’s injury to Jonathan Isaac, particularly now that Markelle Fultz replaced Augustin as a starter. The Lakers don’t have a second-round pick to offer until 2023, but Deveney notes they do have Talen Horton-Tucker, who was drafted by Orlando last year.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Collison, who said he wants to join one of the L.A. teams, would be the Lakers’ best option if he has kept his game sharp during his brief retirement, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus points out that Collison spent the 2013/14 season with the Clippers, but also played for Lakers coach Frank Vogel in Indiana.
  • Rondo said he was convinced to spend another year with the Lakers after the organization acquired two of his former teammates by trading for Anthony Davis and signing DeMarcus Cousins, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Cousins, who hasn’t played because of injury, was especially important, with Rondo telling general manager Rob Pelinka during free agency, “If you go grab Cous, you got me.”
  • The Lakers have started listening to trade offers involving Kyle Kuzma, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. After hearing his name included in numerous rumors during his first two NBA seasons, Kuzma feels ready for whatever happens, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I’ve been in trade rumors ever since I came here,” Kuzma said. “I think that’s just a thing that happens when you’re a Laker. You’re always in trade rumors, especially in this time, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just control what you can control.”

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Knicks, Horford, Raptors

All-Star point guard Kemba Walker still gets plenty of support from Hornets fans whenever he plays in Charlotte, even if he’s now wearing a Celtics jersey after switching sides this summer, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Fans in Charlotte were no different yesterday, serenading Walker when he checked out for the night in a contest his new team won definitively, 109-92.

“People are going to react like that forever,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters post-game. “He’s a special guy and an awfully good player. He’s been really good for us.” Walker is averaging 22.5 PPG and 5.5 APG for the 23-8 Celtics.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reports that the Knicks considered trading their 2015 first-round draft pick (which wound up being No. 4 pick Kristaps Porzingis) as part of a deal for then-All Star center DeMarcus Cousins. This move could have made for an appetizing frontcourt tandem with Carmelo Anthony.
  • Prestige summer signee Al Horford wants the Sixers to step up their defensive focus as they look to end their third three-game losing streak this season, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reports. “We need to stick together,” Horford said. The team is 7-11 on the road, but 16-2 at home. “We have to be more conscious of doing the things that coach wants us to do, defensively.”
  • The Raptors have managed to stay afloat this season despite losing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard this summer and losing Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell to injuries for at least nine games each. The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith reports that the Raptors are eager for their players’ health to stabilize in 2020. Coach Nick Nurse observed that there have been some benefits to the team’s losing so many top players. “We’ve got a lot more reps out of a lot of other things in games — with a lot of guys that we probably didn’t think would get a lot of reps — and we’ve got a look at a lot of different defenses and stuff,” Nurse said. “So it’s been give and take, good and bad.”