George Karl

Kings Rumors: Ranadive, Cousins, Gay, Westbrook

Sources with “intimate knowledge” of the Kings insist that team owner Vivek Ranadive won’t entertain the prospect of trading DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Arnovitz writes in a lengthy and entertaining feature piece for ESPN.com. That’s something we’ve heard before, and comes as little surprise, considering the Kings and Cousins are reportedly on track for an offseason contract extension.

Arnovitz’s piece features many more fascinating tidbits about Cousins and about the Kings’ franchise though, many of which we haven’t heard before. The entire story is worth checking out, but we’ll round up a few of the highlights right here:

  • Although Ranadive insists that the only major player personnel decisions he has made were the ones to trade for Rudy Gay and to not hang onto Cousins, Arnovitz writes that “not a single league source for this story outside of Sacramento said that ultimate authority resides anywhere but with Ranadive.”
  • Arnovitz hears from one NBA insider that Ranadive told him “some months back” that he’d like to assemble a big three in Sacramento, with Russell Westbrook joining Cousins and Gay. It’s not clear if that declaration was made prior to Westbrook signing his extension with the Thunder, but either way, it seems extremely unlikely that the OKC star would end up with the Kings. Gay also seems likely to depart in free agency this summer, though Ranadive remains unconvinced of that, per Arnovitz.
  • Members of front offices that have dealt with the Kings say that Sacramento’s front office structure is confusing to navigate, according to Arnovitz. “There’s just so much ambiguity about how the decision-making process works [in Sacramento] and what information actually gets back to whom,” said one rival executive. By way of example, Arnovitz cites one Kings source who says that during the 2015 draft, there were as many as five team owners in the draft room, including one who was trying to make a side deal for a second-round pick.
  • One league source tells Arnovitz that Ranadive has an “unhealthy fixation on the Warriors,” having previously been a part of Golden State’s ownership group.
  • According to Arnovitz, communication between Cousins and Kings’ executives has sometimes created problems. Sources tell Arnovitz that Cousins was assured that George Karl wouldn’t be hired as the team’s head coach in 2015. Cousins was later told in February 2016 that the team was going to fire Karl that day, but it ultimately didn’t happen until two months later.
  • Be sure to check out Arnovitz’s full story for many more tidbits about Cousins and the Kings.

And-Ones: Booker, Embiid, Karl

The Nets landed Trevor Booker during the offseason by selling him on the opportunity to expand his role, as he tells Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (video link). Booker said the Hornets, Magic, Suns, Mavericks and Wolves were among the teams to reach out to him, but his relationship with GM Sean Marks made him feel comfortable joining Brooklyn.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Joe Harris is enjoying the opportunity to play for the Nets, as he tells Scotto in a separate piece (video link). Harris, who signed with Brooklyn on a two-year deal during the offseason, is seeing a career-high 23.5 minutes per game this season.
  • Joel Embiid is the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, but it’s partly due to the struggles of the 2016 rookie class, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders details. Kennedy notes that there isn’t a single 2016 draft pick who is averaging at least 10.0 points per game.
  • In his book, George Karl claims that the NBA has a steroid issue, suggesting that performance-enhancers are the reason that players have longer careers in today’s NBA, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. It’s worth noting that in the book, Karl doesn’t present specific evidence of any particular player using PEDs nor does the former coach even acknowledge the advances in league-approved medicine or the increased awareness in players’ dietary needs, both of which have been proven to increase the length of an average career.

Kings Notes: Karl, Lawson, Barnes

Not many in Sacramento seem to be surprised about the content in former Kings coach George Karl‘s forthcoming book “Furious George” nor to the reaction the book has received, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Out of all the team’s six coaches over the past seven-plus seasons, no one ignited as much frustration and negative feelings throughout the organization like Karl did, Jones explains. Karl’s relationship (or lack thereof) with DeMarcus Cousins is well-known, but Jones adds that it was Karl’s poor treatment of quieter players that rubbed many the wrong way on the Kings.

Here is more on the Kings:

  • The Kings have flourished late in games with solid performances in the fourth quarters, leading to wins, Shahbaz Khan of NBA.com writes. The resurgence of Ty Lawson and the play of other Kings reserves have a lot to do with more scoring late in games and that speaks well for the Kings looking ahead to 2017, Khan notes.
  • Matt Barnes, 36, is the oldest player on the Kings, so coach Dave Joerger would like to give the veteran time off, but injuries have made that impossible lately, Jones relays in another piece. Barnes is averaging 24.8 minutes this season, four fewer minutes than he averaged playing for Joerger with the Grizzlies last season, Jones adds.

Pacific Notes: Buss, Lakers, Karl, Tolliver

Lakers president and part owner Jeanie Buss will face a major decision after the season ends, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Buss could signal a change of direction for the franchise by firing her brother Jim, who serves as executive vice president, and GM Mitch Kupchak. It has been nearly three years since Jim Buss promised to resign if the Lakers weren’t “contending for a championship” in three or four seasons. Coming off three of the worst seasons in franchise history, L.A. sparked some hope with a 10-10 start, but has lost 12 of its last 13 games. “We’re like every other team that we will play a season and we will assess that season when it’s over,” Jeanie Buss said. “No reason to speculate on any possible changes. It’s a waste of time to speculate.”

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Nearly all of the Lakers‘ offseason signees are now eligible to be included in trades, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Power forward Thomas Robinson passed his deadline December 23rd, a day after Metta World PeaceMarcelo Huertas, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Jordan Clarkson all became eligible on December 15th. The one exception is backup center Tarik Black, who cannot be traded until January 15th. League rules stipulate a later deadline for him because he received at least a 20% salary increase while re-signing with Bird rights.
  • Critical comments about the time he spent coaching the Kings were removed from George Karl’s new book, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears and Marc Stein. A proof copy of “Furious George” obtained by the network included negative passages about DeMarcus Cousins, GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive. Karl said he had “not authorized” those parts of the book to be included. Sources told ESPN that Karl agreed to refrain from critical statements about the organization in the settlement he reached when he left the team after last season.
  • Anthony Tolliver is earning more playing time with the Kings, relays James Ham of CSNBayArea. The well-traveled forward signed with Sacramento in July for $16MM over two seasons. He has been in and out of the rotation during the first two months of the season, but has found a larger role in the past week. “Professional — he can sit five games in a row and his name is called and he’s going to come out and play like it’s his last game,” Cousins said. “True professional. He’s always ready to play.”

And-Ones: Kenyon Martin, Will Bynum, 2017 NBA Draft

There have been plenty of headlines about George Karl‘s pending book release, but lost in the Carmelo Anthony barbs that have been heavily discussed in the media of late is the seemingly reignited feud between the ex-Nuggets head coach and his former power forward Kenyon Martin.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated explored the intricacies of the hostile relationship between Karl and Martin.

George Karl Blasts Carmelo In Upcoming Book

Carmelo Anthony was “addicted to the spotlight” and had no commitment to defense when he played for the Nuggets, his former coach George Karl writes in a book that is scheduled for release next month.

Excerpts from the book, “Furious George,” were published after an advance copy was obtained by the New York Post’s Marc Berman.

Karl coached Anthony for six seasons and clearly still has issues with the current Knicks star forward. Karl called Anthony “the best offensive player he ever coached” but Anthony drove him crazy with his self-indulgence and refusal to play hard at both ends of the court, Berman continues.

“He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense,” Karl said in the book. “He had no commitment to the hard, dirty work of stopping the other guy. My ideal — probably every coach’s ideal — is when your best player is also your leader. But since Carmelo only played hard on one side of the ball, he made it plain he couldn’t lead the Nuggets, even though he said he wanted to. Coaching him meant working around his defense and compensating for his attitude.”

Karl admitted that he was happy when Denver traded Anthony to the Knicks in 2011, viewing it as “a sweet release for the coach and the team, like popping a blister.” Karl added that Nuggets got the better of the deal in the long run. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, two of the players acquired by Denver, are still rotation pieces there.

Karl also took current Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith and former NBA forward Kenyon Martin to task, calling them “spoiled brats.”

Martin responded on Twitter by calling Karl a “terrible person” (Twitter link).

Karl, 65, was fired by the Kings in April after a disappointing 33-49 season.

And-Ones: Jones, Snell, Gay

Cleveland is likely to waive Dahntay Jones, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). The Cavs currently have 16 players under contract after waiving John Holland earlier today.

Here’s more from around the league:

Pacific Notes: Karl, Kupchak, Suns

Former Kings coach George Karl placed much of the team’s locker room woes on its star players, who never gelled this past season,  the coach admitted, according to James Ham of CSNBayArea.com. “There’s no question our locker room had tension,” Karl told Michelle Dapper of KCRA-TV. “There’s no question that our locker room had, whatever you want to call it — disconnect. How I tried to solve it or how we tried to solve it — to be honest with you, I think it’s more on the players as much as it is on the coaches. The stars of the team, I think got to take more responsibility sometimes for the leadership of your team. I think that’s probably where it broke down. I think the coach – me, and I think Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay and Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) were the three guys that we never kinda got together.”

Karl did admit that he didn’t spend much time in the locker room during his tenure, also adding that Sacramento trading away Cousins may be the best move for the franchise in the long run, Ham notes. “I can’t deny that ‘what if coaching this team without DeMarcus?’” Karl said. “It’d be exciting. Some roadblocks would be taken away.”

Here’s the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak indicated that he is entering the summer under the assumption the team will not have a first-round pick, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “That’s how you have to plan, yes,” Kupchak said. “And I’m fine either way. I would love to have the pick. I want to keep the 32nd pick. But you have to look at it both ways, and if it doesn’t work out where we get the [first-round] pick, we get the pick next year and we still have the ability to improve the team this summer.” If the Lakers’ first-round pick falls outside of the top three in the NBA draft lottery, it will go to the Sixers.
  • The Suns need to decide which combination of players will form their backcourt of the future with Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Devin Booker all likely to vie for starting slots, Bobby Marks of The Vertical writes in his offseason primer for the franchise. Another upcoming decision the front office will need to make is regarding the center position, Marks adds. With Tyson Chandler signed for three more seasons and Alex Len set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Phoenix may not want to pay both players big money and may need to make a tough call on whom to retain, Marks writes.

George Karl Speaks Out On Kings’ Situation

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Indiana Pacers

Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports Images

Former Sacramento coach George Karl discusses his firing, his relationship with DeMarcus Cousins and the turmoil inside the Kings organization in a wide-ranging interview with Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. It represents Karl’s most extensive comments since the team dismissed him April 14th.

  • Karl says executive/GM Vlade Divac has a huge task ahead in trying to rebuild a team that hoped to be a playoff contender this season, but sputtered to a 33-49 record and finished tied for 10th in the West. Divac’s most pressing offseason decision will be whether to keep or trade Cousins. “The roster needs to be tinkered with,” Karl said. “[Divac] is going to be in for an NBA free agency unlike anything we have ever seen. If the decision is made to keep Cuz, you have to put the right players around him. But it can’t be about Cousins. You have to make basketball decisions.” Karl believes the Kings have too many guards and that Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore and Marco Belinelli are too similar to function on the same roster.
  • Karl said his relationship with Cousins was doomed from the beginning because Cousins’ agents, Dan Fegan and Jarinn Tasi Akana, lobbied hard to prevent Karl’s hiring. Former Sacrmento GM Pete D’Alessandro signed off on the move, but he was demoted weeks later and replaced by Divac. D’Alessandro left for a job with the Nuggets just before the draft, taking valuable information on the Kings’ strategy with him and leaving Divac with an inexperienced staff. Meanwhile, Karl was failing to set down new borders with Cousins and didn’t respond forcefully to early incidents of disrespect. “I never felt I got into a good place with Cuz,” Karl said, “and some of that was my stupidity when I said that no player is untradeable. I still believe that. But I should have been smart enough not to say it, and I in no way, at any time, thought DeMarcus was going to get traded.”
  • The situation escalated when Divac orchestrated a public handshake between Cousins and Karl on NBATV at last year’s Las Vegas Summer League. Cousins reluctantly shook Karl’s hand, then embarrassed his coach by quickly turning away. “Vlade thought he was helping me,” Karl said, “but that looked really bad.”
  • Their relationship became more poisoned when Cousins unleashed a profanity-filled tirade at Karl following a November 8th loss. Karl wanted to impose a two-game suspension, but Divac opted for an undisclosed fine. “When they supported Cousins instead of me, I felt, ‘OK, I’m in the compromise position. Cuz has the power,’’’ Karl said. “They sent that message many times, too many times sent it to the players. And the players wanted someone to stand up to Cuz, and they wanted it to be their coach. But at that point, I realized that you either compromise or you blow it up, and my job was to make us a better basketball team and get to the end of the year.”
  • Karl believes Sacramento’s front office expected too much too soon after an aggressive summer of trying to rebuild the team. He hopes a better atmosphere greets whomever the Kings select as their next head coach. “Whether or not they trade Cuz,” Karl said, “they have to empower their coach. They have to let him coach. It takes a few years to build a program. It becomes a culture, an energy force. [Owner] Vivek [Ranadive] wanted magic to happen, but in the NBA magic happens once in a while, and usually is associated with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.”

Pacific Notes: Walton, Warriors, Belinelli, Metta

The Warriors plan to hire the replacement for assistant coach Luke Walton from outside the organization, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein notes that former Cavaliers coach David Blatt came close to joining Steve Kerr on Golden State’s bench in 2014 but adds that Blatt may not be willing to become an assistant now as he waits for his next head coaching job (Twitter link). The Warriors say they won’t look at candidates to take Walton’s place until they are finished with the playoffs (Twitter link).

There’s more news out of the Pacific Division:

  • Walton and Alvin Gentry, who left after last season to coach the Pelicans, could be the first of many Warriors assistants to land head coaching jobs, speculates Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com. Jarron Collins, another highly regarded Golden State assistant, could be next, and Strauss believes Chris DeMarco, Nick U’Ren and Theo Robertson may eventually follow. Kerr is a fan of all three, and their responsibilities in the organization are growing.
  • Kings swingman Marco Belinelli blasts the organization in an interview with Sky Sport Italy (h/t to Sportando). He believes the tension between former coach George Karl and star center DeMarcus Cousins created dissension on the team from the start of the season. Belinelli says executive Vlade Divac tried to broker peace between Karl and Cousins, but without much success. Belinelli adds that he saw “very bad stuff” in the Kings locker room and contrasts it to the atmosphere he was accustomed to in San Antonio. Belinelli has two years left on his contract with the Kings.
  • His improbable comeback with the Lakers this season has helped Metta World Peace find balance in his life, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The 36-year-old, who entered the NBA in 1999 as Ron Artest, was out of the league for a full season before earning a roster spot with L.A. last fall. “I always tell people there was only one black hole that was able to be a star again,” World Peace said of changing his reputation. “That was Ron Artest. There should be no turning back. Once you’re a black hole, you’re a black hole. But I was able to resurface and do what I had to do. And that’s something I’m proud of.”