DeMarcus Cousins

Clippers Notes: Jackson, Cousins, What-Ifs, Offseason Recruiting

This season wasn’t easy for Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, but it was ultimately rewarding, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. From inconsistent early-season minutes to averaging over 20 PPG in the Western Conference Finals as one of the few sources of consistent offense next to Paul George, Jackson was able to find his footing, first on the court, and second with the team.

This year was my best year, the most challenging year, the most fun year,” Jackson said. “Not sure I was going to play. Ups and downs. Guys were injured. Still found my way into this locker room. First thing I told these guys was, ‘Thank you for saving me.’”

What comes next for Jackson, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is still unclear, but he seems set up for a solid payday after his successful postseason run.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, DeMarcus Cousins regularly asks himself, “Do you still want to play in the NBA?” After battling injuries the last couple years, Cousins has had to fight for a spot on a team multiple teams. “That goes through my mind probably once every other day,” Cousins said. “This s–t is hard, bro. It’s hard knowing what you can do. It’s hard believing in yourself when nobody else believes in you.” After going from max contracts to veteran minimums, the journey hasn’t been easy, but Cousins believes he can still play in the NBA going forward.
  • It’s hard for Paul George to not think about what could have been if Kawhi Leonard didn’t get injured, writes ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, especially when the Clippers lost Games Two and Four by a combined five points. “We’d be going on,” George said. “This series would be a lot different.” George was also honest about the team not doing enough in Leonard’s absence, and confident about his partnership with Kawhi moving forward. “I think we’ve both grown, myself and Kawhi together,” George said. “I think we really enjoy being teammates, and we see what we can be and what we can do.”
  • George plans to be active recruiting players this summer, as well as trying to keep this year’s team together, writes Jim Alexander of The OC Register. “Hopefully this is where they want to continue to play and grow and be something and do something special in the long run,” he said. “Yeah, I’m definitely going to try my hardest to recruit.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks lays out the offseason blueprint for the Clippers. He looks at Leonard’s free agency, including the risks of signing the All-NBA forward to a long-term deal, as well as what the team can offer free agents Jackson and Nicolas Batum.

Ivica Zubac To Miss Game 5 With MCL Sprain

Clippers center Ivica Zubac, who had started for the club in its last three games, will miss tonight’s contest against the Suns with a sprained right MCL, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

According to Youngmisuk, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that reserve big man DeMarcus Cousins will be a part of the team’s rotation for Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Lue noted that Cousins’s offense will be valuable against Phoenix. The four-time All-Star has played a total of 17 minutes and 14 seconds across the first four games of the series.

Since being inserted into the Clippers’ starting lineup, Zubac had averaged 14.0 PPG, 13.7 RPG, and 1.0 BPG while matched up against ascendant Suns center Deandre Ayton.

The absence of Zubac will especially be felt as the team strives to defend the pick-and-roll, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.

Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register noted earlier this afternoon that Zubac’s status ahead of the game was in doubt after he suffered the MCL sprain during Game 4 of the series on Saturday.

Zubac joins All-NBA wing Kawhi Leonard on the sidelines for L.A. The Clippers announced Sunday that Leonard would sit for tonight’s contest in Phoenix. Game 5 represents a potential closeout for the series, as the Suns lead the Clippers 3-1.

Los Angeles Notes: Schröder, LeBron, Zubac, Cousins

Starting Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder has played particularly well as of late, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Schröder has been the single most important element of the team’s offense without All-Stars LeBron James or, until recently, Anthony Davis, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. As the team’s lead ball-handler without James, Schröder has taken on more of the scoring and passing burden.

“He had to,” Davis said. “But he’s been playing huge for us, since I’ve been back and when I was out, figuring it out for us while still keeping us afloat and in the mix.”

Schröder has averaged 17.4 PPG and 7.8 APG across the 20 games since James’s injury, making a push for a lucrative new contract ahead of his upcoming unrestricted free agency. The 27-year-old has reportedly turned down an extension offer from the Lakers in the range of $80MM+ over four years.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James posted what must be a tantalizing missive to L.A. fans recently, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. A black-and-white video featuring James enacting a layup drill in Dallas was accompanied by a promising quote: “Coming soon to a city near you.” James has been sidelined with a high-ankle sprain since March 20, and the Lakers officially remain cagier than James himself has been, sticking with the “indefinite” line in addressing his availability.
  • Clippers center Ivica Zubac has delivered in his new role as the club’s starter with Serge Ibaka injured, writes Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. A back injury has kept Ibaka on the shelf since March 14. Zubac’s play has been one reason why L.A. boasts a league-best 18-4 record since Ibaka’s last game as starter — there’s a chance Ibaka may have lost his starting slot for good.
  • Veteran Clippers center DeMarcus Cousins is comfortable with his firmly-established position in the pecking order for his new team (the fourth and final California club to have signed him), tweets Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. Cousins is the third center on the team, behind Zubac and Ibaka. The well-traveled former four-time All-Star praised the club’s “one of a kind” culture and organization.

Clippers Sign DeMarcus Cousins For Rest Of Season

3:50pm: The Clippers have made it official, announcing that they’ve signed Cousins to a rest-of-season contract.

12:04pm: The Clippers will sign big man DeMarcus Cousins to a contract that covers the remainder of the 2020/21 season, league sources Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Cousins previously signed a pair of 10-day deals with Los Angeles. The second of those contracts expired on Sunday night, and a team isn’t permitted to sign a player to a third 10-day pact in the same season, so the Clippers would’ve had to let Cousins go if they weren’t willing to commit to him for the rest of the season.

Cousins, who began the season with the Rockets, has now appeared in eight games as a Clipper, averaging 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in just 11.5 minutes per contest. He’s making 48.8% shots so far in L.A., scoring far more efficiently than he did in Houston, where he was converting just 37.6% of his attempts from the floor. He has also drawn six charges on the defensive end.

Although Cousins isn’t playing a major role for the Clippers, he has fit in well so far and has been an important depth piece with Serge Ibaka (back) sidelined. Head coach Tyronn Lue believes there’s room for him to continue improving and to perhaps play a larger role, as Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group writes.

“Once (Cousins) learns the plays and sets, understands what we’re trying to do defensively, getting in a little better shape, I think he definitely can (help),” Lue said. “We have a month left before the playoffs start, and for him to get a month of just understanding what we’re trying to run, what we’re doing, I think it’ll make us so much better.”

If Cousins officially signs his new deal today, it would pay him $368,903 for the rest of the season, with the Clippers taking on a $233,095 cap hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Bridges, Davis, Paschall

DeMarcus Cousins has earned a second 10-day contract with the Clippers and may turn out to be a keeper for the rest of the season, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. The 30-year-old center was out of the league for about six weeks after the Rockets waived him in February, but he was ready to play when he arrived in Los Angeles.

“I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I feel great, my body feels great. I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career. At this point, it’s about going out there and just putting everything together and just trying to continue to show that I’m healthy and I’m here to play this game at a high level. I understand the situation that I’m in, whatever opportunity is given to me, I plan on just taking full advantage of it, just controlling what I can control.”

Cousins has gotten into four games so far with the Clippers and is averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.5 minutes per night. Coach Tyronn Lue said the six-time All-Star is making a strong effort to fit in.

“Every single day, he’s working to try to pick up what we’re trying to do, and trying to get better,” Lue said. “For sure, every day. He’s coming in with the young guys early, putting in the work, going over the plays. He gets conditioning in, he does all the right things that he’s supposed to get his self to where he wants to be.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams credits a “pretty vulnerable conversation” with helping to turn around Mikal Bridges last season, according to Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports 98.7. Bridges has become one of Williams’ most trusted players, ranking second on the team in minutes this year. “He’s always been a great kid, a great person,” Williams said, “but when I saw him take that conversation the right way, kind of knew he had a chance to grow, he had the capacity to grow as a player and a person.”
  • Anthony Davis is close to making his return, but Lakers coach Frank Vogel doesn’t expect it to happen Monday against the Jazz, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Davis hasn’t played since February 14 because of a right calf strain and tendinosis.
  • Warriors forward Eric Paschall is going through controlled individual workouts and hopes to practice with the team after its current road trip is finished, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Paschall suffered a hip flexor strain that has kept him out of action since April 2.

Clippers Sign DeMarcus Cousins To Second 10-Day Contract

The Clippers have officially re-signed DeMarcus Cousins, announcing today that the big man has inked a second 10-day contract with the team.

Cousins, 30, started the season with the Rockets but was released in February as Houston shifted into retooling mode. He signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers earlier this month and appeared in three games in his first 10 days with the team, averaging 6.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in just 9.7 minutes per contest.

Cousins will earn $175,668 on his second contract with Los Angeles, while the team takes on a $110,998 cap hit. The deal will cover L.A.’s next five games, including tonight’s contest in Philadelphia.

With Cousins back under contract, the Clippers once again have a full 15-man roster, though only 13 of those players are on full-season deals — Cousins and Malik Fitts are on 10-day pacts.

Fitts could be re-signed to a second 10-day contract when his first one expires this weekend. However, when Cousins’ new deal expires, the Clippers will have to either let him go or sign him for the rest of the season. At this point, a rest-of-season contract seems like the most likely outcome, but we’ll have to see how the next 10 days go.

L.A. Notes: Davis, Gasol, Cousins, Rondo

Lakers star Anthony Davis has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices and is close to returning to action, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Thursday (link via ESPN’s Dave Mcmenamin).

The eight-time All-Star, who has been dealing with a right calf strain and tendinosis, has now been sidelined for over two months, having last played on February 14. According to Vogel, Davis is unlikely to suit up for either of the Lakers’ games against Utah on Saturday and Monday, but the head coach didn’t entirely rule out that possibility, McMenamin writes.

When Davis does return, the plan is to incorporate him back into the lineup slowly, beginning with a playing-time limit in the 15-minute range, per Vogel.

“Whenever it is that he returns, it’s not going to be a full return to playing 30-something minutes a night,” Vogel said. “Especially with the nature of practice and how shorthanded we are, he’s going to have to use some games to try to get himself back in shape. So the first two games he’s back will likely be short-minute performances.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:

  • Lakers center Marc Gasol sustained a volar plate fracture in his left pinky finger on Thursday, but he may not miss much – or any – time, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group, who tweets that Gasol has been listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. Utah. “It’s my left hand, I don’t use it much anyways,” Gasol said. “So we’ll see.”
  • Before DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day contract with the Clippers expired on Wednesday night, head coach Tyronn Lue said the team was looking forward to continuing on with the veteran center, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The Clippers didn’t re-sign Cousins to a new deal on Thursday, so we’ll see if they do so today before tonight’s game in Philadelphia.
  • The Clippers paid a high price at the trade deadline for Rajon Rondo (Lou Williams, two second-round picks, and cash), but the veteran point guard has made that deal look like a smart one so far, as Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group details. Since Rondo made his debut on April 4, L.A. is 7-0 and has a staggering +32.0 net rating when the 35-year-old is on the court.

California Notes: McLemore, Cousins, Jones, Gasol

The newest Lakers addition, athletic veteran wing Ben McLemore, brings competent perimeter defense to the club, but more than that, his three-point shooting will fulfill a need for Los Angeles, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise for the new reserve: “Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down 3s on the backside when double teams come and we can play the drive-and-kick game that the modern NBA is made on. So we’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”

The latest Laker is a career 36.3% three-point shooter on 4.0 attempts per game. This season with the rebuilding Rockets, he converted a somewhat below-average 33.1% of his 5.2 long-range looks per contest. Last season, with Houston in the thick of a playoff hunt, McLemore was connecting on 40% of his 6.4 deep looks a night.

There’s more out of California:

  • Clippers All-Star forward Paul George conveyed his excitement for the club’s newest backup center, former four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“He’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league,” George raved. Cousins discussed his focus on his fitness in striving to remain in the NBA following a string of major lower body injuries. “I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career.”
  • New Kings center Damian Jones, inked to a 10-day deal with the team, has observed similarities between Sacramento’s plays and those of his former team in Golden State, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Kings head coach Luke Walton was an assistant coach on the Warriors bench before departing for his first head coaching opportunity with the Lakers.
  • Recently-demoted Lakers center Marc Gasol made a strong case for continued rotation minutes when he stepped in for new starting center Andre Drummond recently, writes Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. Gasol appeared to be more positive about his reduced role in Los Angeles alongside Drummond. “No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position — if it’s some nights, I might not play,” Gasol acknowledged. “It’s been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I’m fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be ready.” Previously, Gasol had expressed frustration with the move. With Drummond now back, Gasol did not play at all in tonight’s 110-104 loss to the Heat.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Stephenson, Iguodala, Portis

When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.

The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler ZellerKyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.

In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.

The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.

There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:

  • As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
  • Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
  • Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.

Clippers Notes: Rondo, George, Cousins, Zubac, Kennard

Rajon Rondo will try to maximize the production of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when he’s on the court for the Clippers, Mark Medina of USA Today writes. “I’ll try to get our two main guys the ball in a lot easier spots as far as them not having to work so hard to get the ball against a set defense,” Rondo said. “If we’re able to create the stops and get out on the break, it’s my job to advance the ball and let those guys attack one-on-one before the defense gets set.” Rondo has already noted opponent tendencies that his teammates have found helpful, Medina adds.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • George has no issue with Rondo jumping right in as a team leader and sage voice, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“Rondo’s a leader, you know the point guard, he’s a leader,” George said. “We’re going to listen to him. I look at him as a leader, a leader of this group. He’ll hold a lot of weight. He holds a lot of weight in the locker room. As he gets more comfortable within our system, getting games under his feet, he’ll hold us accountable.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day contract will pay him $175,668, with $110,998 counting toward the cap, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Cousins was officially signed on Monday to provide frontcourt depth with Serge Ibaka currently out due to a back injury.
  • A couple of tweaks could help both the starting lineup and second unit. A Western Conference scout told the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike the team should keep Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup, even when Ibaka returns. A executive within the conference believes the coaching staff should unleash Luke Kennard as the primary second-unit point guard.