DeMarcus Cousins

Cavaliers Notes: James, Anthony, Cousins, Wade

Don’t expect a firm answer from LeBron James tomorrow when Media Day questions turn to his future, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Monday will mark the first time the Cavaliers star has spoken to reporters since Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the first time since rumors emerged that he has plans to join the Lakers as a free agent next July. LeBron will probably tell the media that he hasn’t made up his mind, which Vardon believes is true.

The talk about LeBron’s next decision will overshadow other issues surrounding the team heading into training camp, such as the condition of Isaiah Thomas‘ hip, the new personnel on hand, the chances of Dwyane Wade coming aboard after a buyout from the Bulls and whether the organization plans to keep or trade the unprotected first-rounder it got from Brooklyn. But Cavaliers fans had better get used to it because LeBron’s future is going to eclipse everything all season.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The Knicks were demanding a first-round pick from the Cavaliers in exchange for Carmelo Anthony, Vardon writes in a separate story. Anthony included Cleveland among the three teams he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to join, but the Cavs felt the price was too high.
  • The Cavaliers are listening to offers for the Brooklyn pick, but it’s unlikely a deal will involve either of the Pelicans’ big men, according to Sam Amico of Amicohoops. Rumors have been circulating about DeMarcus Cousins, who will be a free agent next summer, but Amico says the teams haven’t discussed a Cousins trade and the Cavs may not even be interested. Also, Amico hears that New Orleans won’t trade Anthony Davis under any circumstances.
  • Amico believes Wade is headed to Cleveland, possibly before the season begins. He and the Bulls are ready to part ways, and Amico sees no reason why the buyout should be a lengthy process. He passes along a few other roster details in the same piece, stating that it’s unlikely that Kay Felder or Edy Tavares earns a spot, although both could wind up with the team’s G League affiliate in Canton; most scouts like Ante Zizic, who was acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade, more than Cedi Osman; and the Cavs and Rockets “were at the one-yard line, ready to punch it in” on an Iman Shumpert trade this summer.

Central Notes: Bradley, Cousins, Cavaliers

There haven’t been many people outside of Detroit praising the Pistons for how they handled their offseason, a Detroit News report claims, but one move that’s gotten recognition is the addition of Avery Bradley.

Bradley joins a Pistons team that got off to a slow start in 2016/17 and never fully recovered. When the club breaks camp this October, they’ll look to Bradley as a featured contributor both on and off the floor. The vaunted perimeter defender will step into what could be the largest offensive role of his career and could even, according to at least one reporter, make a case for an All-Star berth.

The report draws attention to a recent feature from CBS’ Brad Botkin. In the piece, Botkin compiled a list of five under-the-radar NBA moves from the summer and thinks that the 26-year-old entering into a contract year could be a major upgrade for the Pistons over the outgoing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In his list of five under-the-radar offseason moves, CBS’ Brad Botkin writes that the Cavaliers will get a perimeter defender, the likes of which they lacked last season, in recently acquired forward Jae Crowder.
  • The Cavaliers will remain contenders following the Kyrie Irving trade but uncertainty abounds for the franchise. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com dredges up some of the instabilities that the organization will have to address in the coming months.
  • We’ve written about how the Pelicans have at least a passing interest in Iman Shumpert. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype has taken things one step further, amalgamating various hypothetical deals that could unfold between the Pels and Cavaliers. It’s unlikely that a Shumpert trade would escalate to the point of DeMarcus Cousins and the Brooklyn first-rounder changing hands but there’s at least some merit to the speculation.

Cavaliers Notes: Cousins, James, Thomas

Acquiring the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder for 2018 in the Kyrie Irving trade gives the Cavaliers plenty of options, writes Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops. He adds that several teams have reached out to Cleveland about the availability of the pick since the Irving deal was announced Tuesday. The Nets had the league’s worst record last season at 20-62, and their pick was first overall at the lottery. Boston, which owned the rights to swap picks with Brooklyn, subsequently traded it to Philadelphia. The Nets have upgraded their roster over the offseason, but still seem like a good bet to return to the lottery.

The Cavaliers’ front office is no hurry to move the pick, Mathur adds, speculating it might wait for a player like Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins to become available. If New Orleans gets off to a poor start and decides to move Cousins to avoid losing him in free agency, Mathur suggests a package of Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Cedi Osman and the Nets’ pick could be enough to get a deal done.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers’ offseason moves should help ease the load on LeBron James and possibly entice him to remain in Cleveland, Mathur adds in the same story. Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose will team with James to give the Cavs three skilled penetrators who can create shots for the team’s 3-point specialists. Jae Crowder provides another strong wing defender who can take over James’ responsibilities of guarding top perimeter players.
  • The hip injury that Thomas aggravated during the playoffs may be a lingering issue in the early part of the season, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Celtics president Danny Ainge admitted the injury had “some” effect on the decision to deal Thomas, adding, “There’s going to be probably a little bit of a delay for Isaiah as he starts the season this year.” However, Thomas will be checked out thoroughly, and a team source told Vardon that the Cavs don’t believe his physical condition will be an issue.
  • James is criticizing fans for burning the jerseys of former players, relays NBA.com. In a series of tweets, James speaks out against Celtics fans for burning Thomas jerseys after he was traded on Tuesday and against Jazz fans for doing the same after Gordon Hayward signed with Boston last month. James, of course, was the subject of mass jersey burning in Cleveland when he signed with the Heat in 2010.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Ball, Warriors, Jordan

The decision to remove DeMarcus Cousins from the equation has brought a sense of happiness and hope around the moribund Kings franchise, Nick Zappulla of RealGM opines. The pieces are now in place for a quick turnaround via the acquisition of Buddy Hield in the trade with the Pelicans along with four promising rookies taken in the draft, particularly floor leader De’Aaron Fox and forward Harry Giles, Zappulla continues. Big men Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein showed progress once Cousins was removed from the picture and the club also brought in three veteran free agents to facilitate the development of the young players, Zappulla adds.

In other items regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The league’s television partners certainly have Lonzo Ball fever, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 35 nationally-televised games next season, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register notes. That’s the fifth-most national broadcasts among all teams despite the franchise coming off a 26-win season. Much of it can be attributed to lottery pick Ball, both for his passing skills and the hype-man routine of his father LaVar, Oram adds.
  • The Warriors’ center rotation is unlikely to change next season despite the presence of some promising young players at the back end, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Zaza Pachulia will continue to start with JaVale McGee backing him up and David West getting minutes there at the start of second quarters, according to Slater. Damian Jones, who was inconsistent in summer-league play, or rookie Jordan Bell could force their way into the rotation at some point, Slater adds.
  • Center DeAndre Jordan realizes the Clippers won’t be the same team without Chris Paul, but expects point guard additions Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic to keep the franchise among the best in the West, Jovan Buha of ESPN.com reports. “Those guys are going to come in and play their style of basketball, and it’s going to be fun,” Jordan told Buha.

Western Rumors: Reed, Cousins, Pelicans, Noel

The arraignment hearing for Clippers center Willie Reed has been set for Sept. 8, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sen Sentinel tweets. Reed was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery over the weekend in Florida and booked in Miami-Dade County. Reed, who played for the Heat last season, signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Clippers last week.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins has expressed on his Twitter feed that he wants the team to trade for Carmelo Anthony, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype notes. They are teammates on Team USA and Cousins has previously stated his admiraion for the aging Knicks forward. Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause to join Cousins in New Orleans and the Knicks would either have to agree to a package of role players or get a third team involved to make that happen.
  • Jalen Jones two-way contract with the Pelicans is a two-year deal, a league source informed Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). The former Texas A&M forward went undrafted in 2016 and played for the Celtics’ G League’s affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, where he averaged 21.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG. Jones impressed the Pelicans while playing for their summer league team, posting averages of 13.3 PPG and 6.2 RPG in six games.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is hopeful that the Mavericks can eventually come to terms with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, whose contract situation has yet to be resolved. “He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time. … I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [GM] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move.”

DeMarcus Cousins Plays Recruiter Role For Pelicans

The Pelicans made two notable signings over the past couple weeks, inking both Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark to one-year contracts. DeMarcus Cousins played a big role in both of those deals, according to coach Alvin Gentry.

“He’s done a phenomenal job this year of helping recruit free agents,” Gentry said of Cousins (via William Guillory of The Times-Picayune). “He’s talked to Rondo, he’s talked to Ian Clark, he’s talked to all of those guys that we’ve been trying to sign and he’s been very active in that.”

Cousins wants the Pelicans to add talent so the team can make the playoffs, something he never accomplished during eight years in Sacramento. He’s been doing his part to help with that process.

“We want to win. We need as much talent and as many pieces as we can get,” Cousins said. “I’ve reached out to everybody. I mean, I don’t want to throw names out there, but some of the biggest names that are on the block right now I’ve reached out to. It’s just about getting better.

“We see where the NBA is going, we need as much help and as much talent as we can get just to match up with the [reigning champion Golden State Warriors]…We’re fully invested in this and we want to win.”

The big man will be a free agent after the 2017/18 season, but his activism within the franchise could be seen as a sign that he’s not planning on going anywhere. It was reported on Wednesday that Cousins may have much at stake during the upcoming campaign.

Rival Executives Keeping Tabs On DeMarcus Cousins

Executives around the league are keeping a close eye on DeMarcus Cousins and the Pelicans this season. One Western Conference team executive tells Chris Mannix of The Vertical that Cousins, who will be a free agent next summer, could cost himself a sizable deal if things don’t go well in New Orleans.

“This season is huge,” said the anonymous Western Conference team executive. “He has to prove he can win. He has never played with anyone near the talent of Davis. He has to show he is willing to sacrifice for the team and do what is best for the team first. He really needs to turn a corner. If he acts up, he will cost himself a lot of money.”

Another Western Conference executive echoed that sentiment, telling Mannix that “there’s no way to overstate it—there is huge money on the line.” 

The 26-year-old big man remains focused on the upcoming campaign and refuses to worry his contract situation. “I’m not real concerned,” Cousins said. “I know people know my talent. I’m past all that.”

Cousins came to New Orleans via a trade deadline deal that sent a package centered around Buddy Hield and a first-rounder to Sacramento. The Pelicans went 7-10 during games in which Cousins played. Could it be that having two 6’11” behemoths in the same lineup is no longer a sustainable model for building a winning team? Cousins doesn’t believe that to be true.

“I think the game is actually playing into our hands,” Cousins said. “I think me and A.D. have a skill set that a lot of bigs don’t have in this league, or the league hasn’t seen in some bigs throughout the history of the game. I think it actually plays into our hands, and we’re just rolling with the punches. I don’t think [a smaller game] will effect me or A.D. at all.

“That sample size we got last season is the reason I’m so confident this season. I believe we can make it work, and I think we’re going to surprise a lot more people than people actually expect. For some reason we’re being counted out, but that’s actually OK. We’re going to surprise a lot of people this season.”

Southwest Notes: Davis, Cousins, Miller, Prince

After the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans last season, New Orleans’ new big man and incumbent big man, Anthony Davis, did not have much time to establish an on-court chemistry. This offseason, however, Davis and Cousins have spent a lot of time working out together in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com writes.

“We’ve just tried to get in as much work as possible this summer,” Davis said to Eichenhofer. “We didn’t have that much time last season to work out with each other, because we didn’t have training camp or (many practices). So we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, where we had time in the summer in the same city and can get in some work together, because we’ll be playing with each other a lot.”

The Pelicans have been active this offseason, inking Jrue Holiday to a long term extension and adding another backcourt upgrade in the form of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. Davis also gave his candid thoughts on Cheick Diallo‘s play in the Summer League and his expectations for the 2017/18 season.

Below are additional notes around the Southwest Division:

  • Darius Miller signed a two-year deal with the Pelicans yesterday and it was the opportunity that enticed the 27-year-old forward. Per Scott Kushner of The Advocate (via Twitter), Miller chose the Pelicans over the Magic and Rockets because of the opportunity to “contribute to winning.”
  • The Mavericks may not be in position to contend for a championship but an exciting core with first-round pick Dennis Smith Jr. and a slew of veterans should make the team interesting, Dallas News’ Eddie Sefko writes. With Dirk Nowitzki back in the fold, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews still in Dallas and a variety of veteran point guards, the Mavericks could surprise many next season, Sefko adds.
  • In a separate post, Sefko answers several questions pertaining to the Mavericks. In regard to Kyrie Irving‘s trade request, the scribe believes the Cavaliers All-Star heading to Dallas is a long shot as the Mavericks likely do not have the assets to swing a deal.
  • In a series of tweets, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press says former NBA champion Tayshaun Prince is pondering a possible front office or coaching gig with the Grizzilies. However, the 37-year-old — who did not play last season — is also weighing a possible on-court return.

Western Notes: Rivers, Hill, Holiday, Thunder

Austin Rivers refuted reports that Chris Paul wanted to leave the Clippers in part because of a strained relationship between them, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Rivers spoke to Paul by phone shortly after the rumor surfaced and Paul assured him that there was nothing to it, Amick continues. “Chris was just like, ‘This is a joke,'” Rivers told Amick. “So I asked him, I’m like, ‘You don’t need to come out and say nothing publicly, I don’t need you to do that. It’s just going to make it even more, now they’re going to drag it out two more days. I’ll take it. I don’t care.”

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings’ promise that they were not in tank mode next season helped to sway point guard George Hill to sign with them, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Hill signed a three-year, $57MM contract to join Sacramento. “A couple of teams I was in talks to really weren’t focused on winning,” Hill said. “A couple teams wanted to win. Sacramento called and said we have a lot of young guys but we’re not here to tank, we want to win and we want to do it the right way and if we take our lumps and bruises, we’ll take our lumps and bruises but we’re trying to win.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins is entering his walk year and Jrue Holiday is already lobbying him to re-sign with the Pelicans, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Holiday stayed with New Orleans by signing a five-year, $126MM deal as an unrestricted free agent. Cousins is no longer eligible for the designated player extension because the Kings dealt him. He can still sign an extension but can make more in free agency, Guillory notes.
  • Center Dakari Johnson is a candidate for one of the Thunder’s final two roster spots, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Johnson, the team’s second-round pick in 2015, has spent the last two seasons with the Oklahoma City Blue. A spot will be available if forward Nick Collison declines to re-sign or if the team waives guard Semaj Christon, Dawson adds.

Kings Notes: Draft, Bogdanovic, Labissiere

The Kings must establish a long-term answer at the point guard position, Bobby Marks of The Vertical contends. There will be plenty of options on the free agent market, including Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, who both started at least 20 games for the club this past season. However, Marks believes the team should look to the draft to find a playmaker at the position.

The Kings’ first-round pick is currently slotted in the eighth spot in the upcoming draft. They have only a 2.5% chance of moving into the top-3 since the Sixers will likely swap first-rounders with them should their pick come in higher than Philadelphia’s, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details. Sacramento will also receive the Pelicans’ pick should it fall outside the top-3 (96% chance) as a result of the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • The franchise must be patient as it rebuilds post-Cousins, Marks argues in the same piece. For quite some time, Sacramento had a short-term goal of making the postseason, something that led it to chase after veterans in free agency and not take a long-term view when building the roster. Sacramento will likely have cap space for the third straight offseason and Marks cautions that the team should refrain from adding any long-term money to the books in order to maintain future flexibility since the organization will most likely not be in a position to contend during the 2017/18 season.
  • Benedict Tagle of NBA.com examines the game of  Kings’ draft-and-stash prospect Bogdan Bogdanovic. GM Vlade Divac previously said the organization wants him to come stateside this offseason. “We would love to have him here. We have his rights, and this summer we’ll talk about it,” Divac said.
  • Skal Labissiere broke out toward the end of the season and his former college coach credits the Kings for putting the 21-year-old in a position to succeed, as James Ham of Comcast Sportsnet relays. “I look at Skal and the progress – I give Sac credit,” Kentucky coach John Calipari. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”
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