DeMarcus Cousins

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Holmes, Cousins, Gortat

The Sunsbuyout with Tyson Chandler would have helped the team much more if it had occurred during the preseason, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. The parties have reportedly had a standing deal on a buyout in place for some time, but Chandler was reluctant to commit until he was confident that another organization would pick him up. The consensus is the Lakers will be his next team.

The money saved through Chandler’s buyout could have benefited the Suns in a number of ways, Nahmad notes. De’Anthony Melton, a second-round pick acquired in a trade with the Rockets, was limited to a two-year, minimum-salary deal because Phoenix didn’t have money available for a three- or four-year offer (Twitter link). Nahmad is assuming Chandler will give back about $452K in his buyout, and notes that the Suns waited until just before the start of training camp to sign Melton in the hopes that they could free up more cash.

Unloading Chandler earlier would have also opened a roster spot and would have eliminated the need to waive Davon Reed when Jamal Crawford was signed (Twitter link). Reed, who is now on a two-way deal with the Pacers, is still owed his entire $1.4MM salary from the Suns.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • The news about Chandler explains why Richaun Holmes was the Suns‘ first choice at backup center in Friday’s game, tweets Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Holmes, who was acquired from the Sixers in an offseason trade, played a season-high 13 minutes.
  • DeMarcus Cousins is expected to have a one-year stay with the Warriors, but GM Bob Myers isn’t giving up on the idea of extending their arrangement, relays Chelsea Howard of The Sporting News. During a recent appearance on the team’s pre-game show, Myers said “options are open” when it comes to keeping the All-Star center. “These type of predictions — good or bad — are pretty fruitless because you just don’t know,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to be going on on July 1, 2019. You don’t know if it’s going to be better than you think … but it’s not going to be what you think. So, with a guy like DeMarcus, who knows? If he wants to come back, let’s bring him back.” If Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both re-sign, Golden State would be well above the cap and would be limited to offering Cousins its mid-level exception again.
  • Clippers center Marcin Gortat re-tweeted a message bemoaning the end of his consecutive games streak. L.A. traded for Gortat in June to help offset the expected loss of DeAndre Jordan, but he has averaged just 3.6 PPG and 3.9 RPG and is losing minutes to Montrezl Harrell and Boban Marjanovic.

Anthony Davis Hopeful DeMarcus Cousins Can Return To Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins didn’t re-sign with the Pelicans when he reached free agency four months ago, but Anthony Davis remains hopeful that his old frontcourt partner will return to New Orleans at some point down the road, he said on Thursday.

“He will be a free agent next year,” Davis said of Cousins, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “Hopefully, down the line we can reconnect.”

As Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted this week, Cousins’ one-year deal with Golden State seems unlikely to lead to a longer-term arrangement, given the team’s cap limitations. However, the Pelicans would face challenges of their own if they want to bring back Cousins. New Orleans could theoretically create enough cap room to make an offer to the big man during 2019’s free agent period, but that would probably mean allowing both Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic to depart, unless Cousins is willing to take another discount.

There may be other roadblocks in the way of a reunion between the Pelicans and Cousins, who was bothered by having not received a formal offer from GM Dell Demps this past July. That relationship is in need of repair, sources tell ESPN. Still, Demps told Spears that he’s rooting for Cousins, while head coach Alvin Gentry referred to the ex-Pelican as “the best player at his position in the league.”

Of course, if Cousins were to consider returning to New Orleans, he’d certainly want assurances that Davis would be sticking around as well. The Pelicans’ All-NBA big man is under contract through 2019/20 and sounds committed to staying with the team at least through that season, if not longer.

“I got two years to ’20/21. I’m here and whatever happens after that happens,” Davis told Spears. “For me, right now it is about being the most dominant player in the league and helping this team win. … You hear all the rumors. You hear all the talk. But it’s not coming from me. I’m here to be a Pelican, help this team move forward and help this team win a championship.”

Kerr Acknowledges Cousins Likely One-And-Done With Warriors

When DeMarcus Cousins reached an agreement on a one-year deal with the Warriors this past July, both sides were crystal clear on the plan ahead: Sign a contract, bring the four-time NBA All-Star to a world-class team, and work to get that former All-Star his first ever championship.

Cousins’ contract pays him just $5.3MM this season and is set to expire in free agency on July 1. The Warriors recognize they likely won’t be able to retain him after the season due to financial commitments to Stephen Curry ($40MM), Draymond Green ($18.5MM) and impending free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, who could stay in Golden State on lucrative deals.

Golden State will have just the taxpayer MLE and Cousins’ Non-Bird rights available to offer him a new deal, making it very unlikely they bring him back on a substantial raise unless at least one or two other key players leave.

“We made no bones about it when we signed him,” coach Steve Kerr said, according to Logan Murdock of The Mercury News (Twitter link). “This is a one-year deal and we’re not going to have money to sign him next year so we’d like to help him win a championship and sign a great contract somewhere else. That’s the reality.”

Cousins, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in January, has missed the Warriors’ first two weeks of the season. He was cleared to participate in 5-on-5 scrimmages this week, a positive next step in his long rehab, according to Monte Poole of NBCS Authentic (Twitter link).

Cousins, 28, averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds in 48 games with the Pelicans last season. A dominant force who’s played eight NBA seasons, he will register interest from several teams as a free agent next summer provided he stays healthy.

The Warriors are off to a red-hot start during the 2018/19 season, winning eight of their nine games and remaining undefeated at home. Cousins is expected to replace Damian Jones in the starting lineup once he returns.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Okobo, Cousins, Lakers

The Warriors have been ordered to pay approximately $40MM for prior renovations at Oracle Arena, according to an Associated Press report. The dispute stemmed from renovations to the arena back in 1996. The government agency that manages the arena took out a $150MM bond for basketball renovations and the team agreed to help finance with annual payments. The Warriors argued their debt obligation should end when they terminate their lease and leave Oakland for San Francisco at the end of the season. An arbiter disagreed and ruled that the team must continue making payments through 2027.

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Rookie Elie Okobo may have emerged as the Suns’ answer at point guard in a loss to the Thunder over the weekend, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Okobo posted a team-high 18 points and eight assists after he replaced Isaiah Canaan, who suffered a left ankle injury early in the contest. “He played with confidence, he played with a presence. He played like, ‘I belong here,’” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said.
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins apologized to coach Steve Kerr for getting ejected from the bench during the team’s game against the Knicks on Friday, Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. Cousins, who is still rehabbing from his Achilles injury he suffered last season, got tossed for trash talking to Knicks center Enes Kanter. “That kind of stuff is not going to help us win a championship, it’s not going to help his reputation, and I think he understands that,” Kerr said. “And I think he immediately regretted what happened, so I really appreciated him coming to me and making that pretty clear, and I don’t expect it to happen again.”
  • The Lakers need to ride their young players — Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — to complement LeBron James and build a brighter future, Martin Rogers of USA Today argues. It’s important for that quartet to grow and develop chemistry with James, rather than playing veterans like Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, Rogers adds.

DeMarcus Cousins Practices With Warriors For First Time

The Warriors‘ formidable five-All-Star lineup is coming closer to fruition as injured center DeMarcus Cousins practiced with the team on Thursday ahead of the team’s Friday matchup against the Knicks, per the Associated Press. There remains no timetable for his return.

It was Cousins’ first practice since he signed with the Warriors over the summer. Cousins’ work has been limited to individual and one-on-one drills.

The 28-year-old suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon last January as a member of the Pelicans. He was ruled out for the remainder of the season and for at least part of the current campaign.

Cousins, a six-time All-Star, averaged 25.2 PPG and 12.9 RPG in 48 games for New Orleans last season before suffering the injury.

NBA Execs Looking Ahead To 2019 Free Agency

Front office executives around the NBA, even on probable playoff teams, are already looking ahead to 2019’s free agent period, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, who notes that next summer’s group of star free-agents-to-be is generating plenty of early interest.

As Windhorst details, executives believe that many of the top players in 2019 free agency are viable candidates to change teams. In 2018, LeBron James signed with a new team, but most of the league’s other elite free agents, such as Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Paul George, re-signed with their current clubs. In 2019, Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins are all viewed as at least decent bets to change teams, particularly since there will be so much cap room available around the NBA.

Teams are also keeping a close eye on Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving, per Windhorst. Davis can’t reach free agency until 2020, but will be eligible for a super-max extension in 2019. If the Pelicans struggle at all this season or if Davis doesn’t immediately sign that extension with New Orleans, potential trade suitors for the star big man will be calling the Pelicans.

As for Irving, he has verbally committed to re-signing with Boston, but nothing is set in stone yet — plus, the Celtics would likely be reluctant to put a five-year max offer on the table if the star point guard battles injuries again, which could change the equation.

Circling back to Durant and the Warriors, Windhorst also observes that many people around the league think 2018/19 will be the last season that the team’s current core remains together. Durant is considered more likely to leave than Klay Thompson, but execs also wonder about Draymond Green‘s future, Windhorst notes.

Green will be extension-eligible again next offseason in advance of his 2020 free agency, and could even qualify for a super-max extension if he earns All-NBA honors. The versatile big man has talked about having taken a discount on his last deal and suggested that he doesn’t intend to do so again this time around.

We’re still more than eight months away from the 2019 free agent period getting underway, but with so much cap room available and so many big-name free agents potentially in play, it figures to be the subject of a ton of speculation throughout the 2018/19 season.

Injury Updates: Cousins, Howard, Knight, Murray

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is making good progress from his torn left Achilles tendon and will be “integrated into controlled aspects of team practices” in the near future, according to a team release. He is not ready to participate in scrimmages at this point but he will continue off-court strength and conditioning, the release adds. While the news is encouraging, it’s apparent that Cousins won’t see the court any time soon. Golden State will take it slow with its surprise free agent prize to make sure he’s healthy for the postseason. Golden State hasn’t set a timetable for his return. Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3MM pact with the aim of winning a ring before returning to the free agent market.

We have more injury-related news from around the league:

  • Dwight Howard didn’t travel with the Wizards for the start of their five-game road trip, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Howard returned to practice last week after suffering a buttocks injury during training camp but has yet to make his Washington debut. It’s possible Howard could rejoin the team during the trip but the fact that he didn’t travel to Portland for the game on Monday night suggests his return is not imminent.
  • Rockets point guard Brandon Knight isn’t close to returning, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Acquired from the Suns in late August, Knight sat out last season after surgery on his left ACL. He then developed an infection after another minor procedure during the offseason that dramatically set back his rehab, according to Feigen. There’s no timetable for Knight’s return. “I feel it’s going well,” Knight said. “Every day I’m working hard to feel like my normal self, to get back to playing, game mode. It’s tough to put a timetable on things. Just going day-by-day and attack each day as best I can and win the day. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray underwent knee surgery on Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Murray suffered a torn right ACL during a preseason game and is expected to miss the season.

Pacific Notes: Walton, James, Curry, Cousins

The arrival of LeBron James has changed life for Lakers coach Luke Walton in several ways, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. After two relatively stress-free years at the helm, expectations just went way up in Los Angeles. Walton only has to look at Erik Spoelstra in Miami and David Blatt in Cleveland to see the pressure that comes to coaches who are suddenly paired with the NBA’s top talent.

And Walton has more than just the LeBron dynamic to be concerned with. The Lakers have a large collection of veterans on one-year contracts who will all want playing time to maximize their value for next summer. There’s a huge hole in the roster at center, along with a point guard battle between Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball. There’s also the watchful eye of management, where team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are also under pressure to produce a winner.

“That’s one of the reasons Luke is good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who once employed Walton as his lead assistant. “He’s grown up in the NBA and he understands what a weird world we live in. The job changes almost daily depending on your circumstances.”

There’s more tonight from the Pacific Division:

  • Walton plans to monitor James’ minutes to keep from burning out his new star, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James played a league-high average of 36.9 minutes per game last season in Cleveland without taking a night off. Walton plans a much more relaxed approach to avoid tiring out James, who turns 34 in December. “We’ve got four years,” he said, referring to the length of James’ new contract.
  • Stephen Curry tells Marcus Thompson of The Athletic he doesn’t believe he’ll be in the MVP race regardless of the numbers he posts. The Warriors guard already has a pair of MVP trophies, but he says “the narrative” doesn’t work in his favor. “I don’t care,” he said. “I just know the narrative isn’t there, so I would have to go above and beyond. So, it’s whatever. I’m blessed to have three rings. I’m good.”
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins has a new shoe deal with Puma after Nike refused to match his offer, tweets Nick DePaula of ESPN. Cousins becomes the top player associated with the Puma brand.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Curry, Nash, Green

With Kevin Durant set to enter free agency in less than nine months, many have begun to speculate whether this could be the final season the Warriors have their championship core together.

Durant, who joined Curry, Thompson, Green and the Warriors in 2016, will certainly register league-wide interest once he reaches free agency at season’s end, but that hasn’t stopped the team from staying focused on the main goal: Winning the NBA title this year.

“Maybe there is a little bit of fatigue in terms of covering us, because it feels like people trying to plant seeds that aren’t there,” Stephen Curry said, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. “At the end of the day, N.B.A. players have the opportunity to go where they want to go, but I feel like people want to be here. We have a great thing going that we want to sustain and keep together for as long as we can.

“Whatever happens next summer is going to happen — regardless of what anybody says right now. So my job — and I think the way we’re all approaching this — is that this year is about this year. It’s nothing for us to worry about right now, because it’s all kind of wasted breath.”

The Warriors signed center DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal this past offseason, meaning he could also leave in free agency next summer. Regardless, the team’s sole priority remains winning a third straight championship and accomplishing their goals for the upcoming season.

There’s more out of Golden State:

  • Draymond Green will likely see his minutes limited in the first few regular season games, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater (Twitter link). Green dealt with a sore knee throughout the preseason, but he’s expected to play in Tuesday’s home opener against the Thunder.
  • Warriors owner Joe Lacob doesn’t understand the added speculation surrounding Durant’s future free agency, Mark Medina of The Mercury News writes. “It’s not even on my mind,” Lacob said. “There’s no more uncertainty this year than there was last. He’s been on a one-year deal each year. So I don’t really understand what all the hullabaloo is about.”
  • Steve Nash, a consultant for the Warriors, added his thoughts on the Durant situation and predicted that the two-time Finals MVP stay, according to Dejan Kalinic of Sporting News. “I think it would be strange for me to predict at this point that he would leave. I think he would probably stay, but you never know what happens next year.”

Warriors Notes: D. Jones, Evans, Cousins, Jerebko

The Warriors came into camp expecting to make Damian Jones their starting center on opening night, but they were happy he was able to earn the job with his preseason play, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Jones was competing with Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney for the starting honor, but has separated himself from the pack.

“I think Damian has probably been one of the best stories in camp,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were committed to giving him minutes, but we weren’t sure what we’d see.”

Jones’ performance may be enough to convince the team to pick up his $2.3MM option for next season. That decision is due by the end of October, and every dollar is important to the Warriors, who project to be well into the luxury tax again in 2019/20. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take over as the starting center once he returns from an Achilles injury, but the chances are remote that he’ll return next year, so Golden State has to decide if Jones is the center of the future.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along, all courtesy of Slater:

  • Patrick McCaw‘s holdout gave rookie guard Jacob Evans a chance to earn a rotation spot, but he wasn’t able to impress the coaching staff. Evans didn’t play well in either the summer league or the preseason, prompting Kerr to say, “We’ll throw him out there from time to time.” Evans is fine as a defender, but he shot 6 for 25 during the preseason and missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts.
  • Cousins seems to be making progress in his rehab work, although he and the team haven’t talked much about it. No target date has been set for his return, but coaches allowed him to participate in a two-on-two scrimmage in front of the media at Thursday’s practice.
  • There are concerns that offseason addition Jonas Jerebko might be a repeat of Omri Casspi, who suffered a loss of confidence and became hesitant to shoot as last season wore on. Jerebko, who signed in July after being waived by the Jazz, had a difficult preseason and started passing up shots. Slater suggests that the start of the season might provide a welcome “mental reset” for the veteran shooter.