DeMarcus Cousins

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.”

Pistons Committed To Keeping Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons plan to match any offer that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

The organization is prepared to give the fourth-year shooting guard a maximum deal if that’s what it takes to keep him in Detroit, Ellis adds, with several sources saying he is an important part of the team’s future.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, but his numbers declined after the All-Star break. Ellis states that the Pistons may have viewed the situation differently if they were confident that Stanley Johnson was ready to become a starter, but they believe keeping Caldwell-Pope is vital and they wouldn’t be able to get an adequate replacement because of their cap situation.

Ellis touches on several other Pistons-related matters:

  • Trade talks involving Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will continue this offseason. Ellis states that the organization is becoming impatient with Drummond, with coach/executive Stan Van Gundy saying in Friday’s press conference that he needs a “sense of urgency to elevate his game.” Jackson’s drop in production stemmed from left knee tendinitis that plagued him throughout the season, and Ellis claims the only available replacement who might be an upgrade is the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe.
  • The Pistons believe they have enough young players and future first-rounders to acquire a star this offseason. There were rumors that Drummond was offered to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins before he was sent to New Orleans, and a source told Ellis the Pistons contacted the Pacers about Paul George but never got close to a deal. George has another season left before he can opt out, and Detroit might be interested in taking the chance that it can re-sign him, but only if the price in a trade comes down. Other targets could include Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.
  • Although the Pistons might benefit from a franchise-altering move, Van Gundy said smaller deals are more realistic. “There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better, but I don’t think we’re broken” he said. “Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”

Pelicans Notes: Holiday, Gentry, Cousins

The Pelicans weren’t able to achieve their goal of making the playoffs this season, but GM Dell Demps believes the team is on the right path to reach that pinnacle.

“We have positioned ourselves well for the future,” Demps said (via Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune). “We believe the future is bright. … One of our goals this season was to improve on defense and we did that (from 28th to 8th in defensive efficiency). And there was a time after the All-Star break where our offense started to gel and play better, and we were still playing good defense. So that gives us hope that this team is headed in the right direction.”

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans want to bring Jrue Holiday back, but understand that the point guard has to weigh his options, as Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). “We love Jrue. We love his family. Obviously, we’d like to have him back. He’s got a tough decision to make. We’re going to let that process play out,” Demps said.
  • Demps described the status of the team’s coaching staff as in “evaluation mode,” but added that he likes the direction in which the team is heading, Verrier passes along via Twitter.
  • Coach Alvin Gentry hasn’t spoken to ownership about his future in New Orleans yet, Scott Kushner of The Advocate relays (Twitter links). In reference to successfully incorporating DeMarcus Cousins, Gentry said that he “doesn’t think [the team is] going to have to change that much.”
  • Demps believes the Pelicans are set up well for the future and a major reason why is the Cousins trade, Kushner adds (Twitter links). New Orleans had a record of 7-10 after making the deal, but Demps blames the lack of success on the big man’s health, explaining that the center played with a sore Achilles post All-Star break.

Magic Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.
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