DeMarcus Cousins

Southwest Notes: Rondo, Asik, Martin

The addition of Rajon Rondo to the Pelicans lineup helps ease the burden on superstar big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

When the guard was sidelined for 13 games as a result of a core muscle injury, Cousins – the Pelicans’ 6’11”, 270-pound center – ended up handling much of the team’s playmaking responsibilities.

I don’t have to be as much of a playmaker as I’ve had to be in the past,” Cousins said of Rondo’s return to the Pelicans. “Having a floor general like that and missing him from the beginning of the season, it hurt us as a team. But once we get him at 100 percent, I think we’ll be a totally different team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • For the first time since last February, Pelicans big man Omer Asik was on the Pelicans‘ active list, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes, but that doesn’t mean he’ll start logging big minutes any time soon. “He hasn’t been able to run or condition or anything like that,” head coach Alvin Gentry said prior to the team’s Wednesday night contest. “Even when he’s released to play, it’s going to take a while for him to be able to play anything other than really short spurts.
  • Tennessee native Austin Nichols will suit up in the FedEx Forum as a member of the Memphis Hustle tomorrow night. It will mark the G League affiliate’s only performance in the Grizzlies‘ arena this season. “I was a little burned out on ball, but I’ve fallen back in love with it,” Nichols, once a featured member of the city’s revered college program until his unceremonious exit told Pete Wickham of Grind City Media. “I’ve matured on and off the court, trying to figure out who I wanted to be, and trying to mature as a person. I wanted to stay in the States, and when this option became available, it was great to be back home playing for the city.”
  • Although he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to showcase it, Grizzlies forward Jarell Martin believes that the sky is the limit for his development as a player, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes. The 23-year-old, who didn’t start playing basketball until his junior season in high school, has averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season.

Pelicans Notes: Smith, Davis, Cousins, Holiday

The veterans minimum contract for Josh Smith, who formally signed with the Pelicans this afternoon after several days of waiting, will cost the team $13,156 per day, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. With a team salary slightly more than $122.7MM, New Orleans was roughly $1MM below the luxury tax before adding Smith. He is the latest veteran signing for a team that added Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen over the offseason, then reached a deal with Jameer Nelson after he was waived by the Nuggets.

“Being able to get this call, I feel like it was a second chance and a breath of fresh air,” Smith told Christian Boutwell of The Advocate. “I thank the New Orleans Pelicans organization for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to continue to do what I love to do.”

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans’ complementary players have hampered the pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Although both big men are able to initiate the offense from the perimeter, the talent around them don’t shoot well enough to provide spacing, O’Connor adds. Ian Clark is the team’s best career 3-point shooter at 37.2%, and E’Twaun Moore, Nelson and Jrue Holiday are the only others above 36%. Front office sources tell O’Connor they don’t expect any significant roster changes from the Pelicans for the rest of the season, unless they fall far out of playoff contention by the deadline. He notes that the chances of Cousins signing with the Lakers when he hits free agency next summer remain very real.
  • The Pelicans will need a playoff appearance to improve their chances of keeping Cousins, suggests Sam Amick of USA Today. Cousins has spent eight seasons in the league without reaching the postseason and will be more inclined to look elsewhere if he misses for a second straight year in New Orleans. Amick writes that Cousins is currently the star player most likely to change teams next summer.
  • Holiday had his best game of the season Thursday in sparking a comeback in Sacramento, boosting the team’s hopes that he can handle his new backcourt role, writes William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. New Orleans is counting on Holiday to take on more of the scoring load, and he delivered 20 points in the win over the Kings. “Jrue was incredible,” Cousins said. “We’ve been pushing him to just be an aggressive guard at all times. I feel like no guard in this league can guard him one-on-one. He came out and he was aggressive and made some huge plays for us.”

Kings Notes: Cousins, Fox, Bogdanovic

Count TNT analyst and former Kings star Chris Webber in as a supporter of former King DeMarcus Cousins, reports Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Webber, a five time All-Star, says he can relate to the emotions Cousins will likely feel when he steps on the court in Sacramento tomorrow night for the first time since being traded to New Orleans last season.

Webber also blames the Kings for the way they handled Cousins during his time in Sacramento, stating that forcing Cousins to endure six head coaches in his six-plus seasons is “just downright wrong” and an example of what needs fixing with the Kings organization.

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • Despite Cousins’ comments that he “should have left (Sacramento) when (he) had the chance,” the Kings still plan on honoring Cousins during Thursday night’s game against New Orleans, tweets Marc J. Spears of ESPN.
  • Although they’re playing together for the first time, Kings rookies De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic have already begun to click with each other on the court, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Bogdanovic missed the first three games of the season, but scored 12 points in his NBA debut, and given his overseas experience, Fox was not the least bit surprised. “We don’t even look at him as a rookie. He just talks like he’s a vet,” Fox shared. “He hasn’t been in the NBA but he’s been a pro for so long so he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s kind of like my vet on the court.”
  • In an interesting article for Sactown Royalty, Bradley Geiser writes that the Kings deserve to lose to New Orleans in embarrassing fashion” on Thursday night because of, among other reasons, the timing and secretive method of Cousins’ trade to New Orleans during All-Star festivities last season after the Kings publicly declaring their loyalty to Cousins just a week earlier.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Parker, Leonard, Canaan

Pelicans star DeMarcus Cousins regrets not leaving the Kings sooner, he tells Marc J. Spears in an E:60 interview posted on ESPN. Cousins clams he had an opportunity to go to another team when George Karl was hired as Sacramento’s head coach in February of 2015.

“My representatives told me I shouldn’t have stayed,” Cousins said, “but being stubborn and I guess you could say ‘loyal,’ I wanted to make things work. I should have left when I had the chance and avoided it all because they told me what would happen.”

He had a long and public feud with Karl until the coach was fired at the end of the 2015/16 season. Cousins finally left the Kings during last season’s All-Star break when he was traded to New Orleans. He will return to Sacramento for a game Thursday night.

“I’m excited to play in front of the fans and see their reaction, but as far as it being a revenge game, hey, I’m past it,” Cousins added. “I’m in a good place. I’m happy where I’m at.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Veteran point guard Tony Parker is headed to the G League for a rehab assignment with the Austin Spurs, Spears tweets. The team is holding its training camp in San Antonio, so it’s easy for him to do rehab work there, notes Michael C. Wright of  ESPN. (Twitter link). Parker had to give his consent for the G League assignment, adds ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The last health update from coach Gregg Popovich indicated that Parker might be able to play in December.
  • Popovich said Kawhi Leonard could make his season debut during a six-game home stand next month, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. That home stand stretches from November 2 to 11.
  • Isaiah Canaan, who agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with the Rockets on Tuesday, could play tonight in Philadelphia, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Canaan played for Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni when he was an assistant with the Sixers and has an understanding of his approach. “I know his game and he knows our offense more or less,” D’Antoni said. “We did a lot of it up here. He just went through a training camp [with the Thunder], which I like. He’s already been playing. We need bodies. I could see him playing.” The Rockets are short on guards with Chris Paul sidelined by knee soreness.
  • The Pelicans became the latest team to announce a corporate partnership, teaming up with Zatarain’s, a New Orleans-based food company. The team will begin wearing the Zatarain’s logo on its jerseys.

Pelicans Notes: Crawford, Cousins, Allen, Rondo

The Pelicans would have preferred not to lose Jordan Crawford, who was waived today to make room for Jameer Nelson, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. Crawford, who originally signed with New Orleans in March, was fitting in well in a reserve role. He was effective in the preseason and was averaging 9.0 points and 3.5 assists in the Pelicans’ first two regular season games.

Crawford had the misfortune of owning the only contract on the roster that wasn’t fully guaranteed. New Orleans will only owe him $250K, and that will be wiped out if he is claimed off waivers. The team saves a little bit on the two transactions, as Nelson’s veterans minimum salary is less than Crawford’s $1.7MM cap hit. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Pelicans, who have been hit hard by injuries in the early going, tried to get assurance from the league that they will be granted an injury exception after their third game Sunday night, allowing them to add an extra player. When that request was denied, they had no choice but to waive Crawford.

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25K for an altercation with a fan Wednesday in Memphis, the league announced on its website. The fine was for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan” in an incident near the end of the game. A technical foul assessed against Cousins was rescinded.
  • Former Grizzlies guard Tony Allen admitted to being nervous as he returned to Memphis for the Pelicans’ season opener, relays Mark Giannotto of The Commercial-Appeal. Allen still has fondness for the city where he helped to create the “grit and grind” culture over the past seven seasons. “I had so many jitters in my body. Butterflies,” Allen said. “Whatever you want to call it, I was a little nervous. But I’m glad they got that over with. It’s a lot of love for the city, a lot of love for the fans. I appreciate that.”
  • Rajon Rondo may not be guaranteed a starting spot when he recovers from sports hernia surgery, writes Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com in a look at 10 questions surrounding the team. Jrue Holiday will resume point guard duties while Rondo is sidelined, and Duncan speculates that the Pelicans may not want to tinker with success if things go well without Rondo. Duncan adds that coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps will be reluctant to take any chances because they need the team to be successful to keep their jobs.

Pelicans Notes: Rondo, Cousins, Allen, Crawford

New Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo is confident that Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can be effective together and he’s eager to be part of that process, relays William Guillory of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Rondo, who is with his fifth team in the past four years, said the big-man tandem played an important role in his decision to sign with the Pelicans. “They’ve only had a couple months together, I don’t count pretty much last year even though they did play together,” Rondo said. “I think those two guys are capable of being two of the best bigs to ever play this game as a duo. That’s pretty high expectations, but they have the talent to do it.”

Rondo had prior experience with Cousins when they were in Sacramento together in 2015/16. Both excelled that season as Rondo led the league with 11.7 assists per game and Cousins averaged 26.9 points. Coach Alvin Gentry said he likes the idea of pairing Rondo with incumbent point guard Jrue Holiday because it gives him two players capable of running the offense.

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • Cousins believes his on-court chemistry with Davis is already much better than it was last season, Guillory writes in a separate piece. The All-Star big men didn’t have much time to prepare as they were thrown together after Cousins was acquired from the Kings during All-Star weekend. They spent the summer working out in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Cousins describes their relationship as “smoother” now that camp has started. “We’re figuring out our high-low game a lot more. We’re picking our spots: Who’s the guy to pop? Who’s the guy to roll,” Cousins said. “Last year, it would be times where we would run into each other or be on top of each other.”
  • After being a starter in Memphis, veteran guard Tony Allen knew he couldn’t count on that role when he signed with the Pelicans, Guillory adds in another story. Allen, who agreed to a one-year, minimum-salary contract two weeks ago, expects to see his playing time vary from game to game based on matchups. “I’m going to be put in situations or lineups where some days I might start, some days I might play five minutes,” Allen said. “It’s just being ready to do whatever it takes for the team to win ball games.”
  • Jordan Crawford, who joined the Pelicans on a 10-day deal in March, tells Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com that his best moment as an athlete was getting back to the NBA after two years out of the league. After the Warriors elected not to re-sign him in 2014, Crawford played in China and the G League before getting an opportunity with New Orleans.

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.
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