Jrue Holiday

Kings, Pelicans Discuss Cousins-Hield Swap

7:46 pm: In an article published Sunday evening, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical says that Vivek Ranadive‘s stance on trading DeMarcus Cousins has “softened.” Previously the owner wanted to retain Cousins as a franchise pillar and, as recently as January 26, wouldn’t even entertain the prospect of making a deal.

More recently, Wojnarowski writes, Ranadive has been influenced by off-court incidents that call to question the big man’s temperament.

5:46 pm: Wojnarowski has tweeted that Cousins and agent Jarinn Akana have met with Vlade Divac and Kings’ ownership and have been reassured that Cousins is not being traded.

As was the case with the reported Cousins talks involving the Suns a few weeks ago, it seems these discussions were initiated by another team, rather than the Kings. As we noted at the time, it’s possible that not everybody in the Kings organization is on the same page with regard to a possible Cousins deal, which is why rumors keep popping up, only to be shot down.

“There’s just so much ambiguity about how the decision-making process works [in Sacramento] and what information actually gets back to whom,” one rival executive told Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com last month.

5:33 pm: Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee pumps the brakes on trade talks, saying that he has been told Cousins is not being traded, despite teams having inquired about his availability.

5:30 pm: It seems as though Jrue Holiday is not currently part of the outgoing Pelicans package, tweets Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate, but Kushner wouldn’t be surprised if they were willing to include him if push came to shove.

5:21 pm: Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders has added that the Pelicans are allegedly offering their 2017 first-round pick, Hield and an additional first-round pick. Meanwhile, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate adds context, saying that the Pelicans have felt pressure to improve and nearly everyone but Davis is on the table.

5:17 pm: According to Justin Verrier of ESPN, the Pelicans have made inquiries on Paul George as well, but the Cousins talks have progressed further.

5:12 pm: The Kings have recently discussed big man DeMarcus Cousins with the Pelicans, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The center has been the subject of speculation on and off throughout the 2016/17 season. Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders echoes the sentiment, elaborating that a possible deal could involve Buddy Hield and multiple Pelicans first-round picks.

While Wojnarowski previously wrote in a separate tweet that the Kings have been actively engaged in trade talks regarding Cousins for the last few days, the latest implication that the Pelicans are interested makes sense. Less than two weeks ago it was made public that New Orleans was seeking a center to pair alongside Anthony Davis.

If Cousins were to join the Pelicans, he and Davis would instantly make one of the league’s most dynamic pairings, a frontcourt duo unparalleled in the league today.

Just last month it appeared as though the Kings and Cousins were on track to sign a max contract this summer. That deal, it’s estimated, could be for five years at just under $210MM. If such a trade were to transpire, however, Cousins would no longer be eligible for the Designated Veteran Extension, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.

Anthony Davis Lobbying Jrue Holiday To Re-Sign With Pelicans

Anthony Davis reiterated this week that he has no plans to leave the Pelicans, and now that he’s settling in for a long-term stay in New Orleans, the former No. 1 overall pick is working on making sure one of his most talented teammates sticks around in a while. As ESPN’s Marc Stein writes, Davis said on Thursday that he intends to be “very involved” in trying to persuade Jrue Holiday to re-sign with the Pelicans this summer.

“I’m doing that right now,” Davis said. “I talk to Jrue all the time. He’ll make his own decisions, but of course we like him here. … We need him to continue to play well and then, at the end of the season, hopefully he decides to re-sign with us.”

Although the Pelicans have had a disappointing season overall, they’ve played much better when Holiday has been in the lineup, going 21-21 with him and 2-13 without him. A .500 record for the season would put New Orleans in playoff position in the Western Conference, but currently the club is vying with a handful of teams for the No. 8 seed.

Unlike Davis, who is under team control through at least the 2019/20 season, Holiday will have the opportunity to hit the open market this July, and could decide to join a new team at that point. While it’s a little early to identify a list of potential suitors for the veteran point guard, the Sixers are believed to be interested in reacquiring him, and Philadelphia should have a good chunk of cap room available in the offseason. Our list of 2017 free agents by position features several intriguing point guards, though marquee players like Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Kyle Lowry are considered very unlikely to change teams.

Holiday, 26, is enjoying one of this best seasons as a pro in 2016/17, shooting a career-high 46.8% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range. He’s also averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.5 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 42 games.

Kennedy’s Latest: Suns, Collison, Thunder, Pacers

The Suns would like to package their young players and draft picks in order to bring a star to Phoenix, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes. Executives around the league tell Kennedy that they expect the Suns to continue their rebuild and trade away some of their veterans should they not be able to land a star player.

Here’s more from Kennedy’s piece:

  • The Kings have made several players available, including Darren Collison. The point guard, who will be a free agent after the season, has seen an expanded role on the team since Rudy Gay injured his Achilles, as I wrote in this week’s Fantasy Hoops.
  • It’s unclear whether the Thunder will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, but they are expected to be active. “They will do something, one way or the other. They won’t stand pat,” one anonymous GM told Kennedy.
  • The Pacers are willing to trade anyone on the roster with the exception being Paul George, Kennedy reports.
  • The Carmelo Anthony-to-Cleveland trade talks were “overblown,” Kennedy adds. The Cavs are still looking for outside help, as they are reportedly in trade discussions with several teams.
  • Anthony Davis isn’t going anywhere and Jrue Holiday is unlikely to be traded, but anyone else on the Pelicans‘ roster is on the table in trade talks, according to Kennedy.
  • Serge Ibaka was traded to the Raptors earlier today and a source tells Kennedy that Toronto was his preferred destination.

Atlantic Notes: Porter, DeRozan, Vasquez, Holiday

The Nets could land Wizards small forward Otto Porter if they offered him a max deal, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Porter will likely be at the top of the Nets’ wish list from what he’s heard around the league, Lewis continues. The Nets have the cap room to make a substantial run at the restricted free agent. Brooklyn could have as much as $39.4MM in cap room by renouncing its free agents this summer and the Wizards may be unwilling to max out Porter with nearly $97MM already ready on their books for next season, Lewis speculates.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan wouldn’t mind a roster upgrade, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter links). DeRozan told Lewenberg he would welcome some reinforcements, adding: “Help is a great word, with anything. Anybody could take help if it’ll make you better, a better team.” Lewenberg indicated that DeRozan said the team didn’t need any help prior to previous trade deadlines. The Raptors have slipped to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings and are just one game ahead of the sixth-place Pacers in the loss column.
  • Point guard Greivis Vasquez hopes to return to the Nets next season, David Alarcon of Hoops Hype reports. Vasquez’s career has been sidetracked by ankle injuries the past two seasons. He signed a $4,347,826 contract with Brooklyn during the offseason, then was waived in November after appearing in just three games and injuring the ankle again. Vasquez said he’s been in contact with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who invited Vasquez to continue his rehab from ankle surgery with the team after the season ends. “He left the door open for me. He offered me to come back in April or May to work with them,” Vasquez told Alarcon. “I told him that I accepted his offer, and I will work with them with no strings attached. … Brooklyn is a very attractive team in a very attractive city.”
  • The cost of acquiring point guard Jrue Holiday from the Pelicans would likely be higher than the reward for the Sixers, Derek Bodner opines on his website. Philadelphia is reportedly interested in bringing back Holiday, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season. While there are valid reasons to make the move, including the benefit of seeing how he meshes with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, there’s no guarantee Holiday would stick around after the season, Bodner adds.

Pelicans Seeking Center, Dangling 2018 Pick

The Pelicans were at the center of an interesting trade rumor on Monday night, having been linked to the Sixers in a possible Jahlil Okafor deal. However, those Okafor discussions weren’t the only talks New Orleans has engaged in recently, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. According to Wojnarowski (all Twitter links), the Pelicans have been active on various fronts in their efforts to add a center, dangling multiple assets, including their 2018 first-round pick.

In addition to the Okafor discussions, New Orleans’ search for a center has resulted in a pursuit of Nets big man Brook Lopez, according to Wojnarowski, who reports that the Pelicans have been exploring larger deals in the hopes of unloading Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca. Asik and Ajinca, who will earn a combined $15.56MM next season, are under contract for multiple years and aren’t a part of the team’s rotation.

The Pelicans still own their 2017 first-round pick, but the team is reluctant to move that selection. This year’s draft class is expected to be one of the deepest and most talented in the last decade, and New Orleans is on track to have a lottery pick — our reverse standings show that the Pelicans are currently tied with the Kings for the NBA’s seventh-worst record.

While the Sixers are said to have some interest in a deal with the Pelicans, it’s not clear if a reported offer of Ajinca and New Orleans’ 2018 first-rounder will be enough for Philadelphia. Sam Amick of USA Today tweets that the protection on the 2018 pick is a sticking point for the Sixers, who may be looking for more value anyway. Meanwhile, various reports have suggested that Philadelphia would like to find a way to include Jrue Holiday in any deal.

As for the Nets and Lopez, multiple outlets have reported in recent weeks that Brooklyn wants to secure two first-round picks in any deal for its standout center. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote this morning that Brooklyn is seeking a 2017 lottery pick – plus an additional first-rounder – in any package for Lopez, so the Nets would presumably be interested if the Pelicans wanted to discuss this year’s pick.

I’d be surprised if New Orleans is willing to meet the Nets’ asking price, and it remains to be seen what sort of deal the Sixers would accept. Still, the Pelicans are actively scouring the trade market, and appear to be a good bet to make a deal in the coming weeks.

Kyler’s Latest: Cavs, Sixers, Lopez, Kings, Magic

The Cavaliers have been “aggressively” exploring ways to clear the contract of Chris Andersen from their books, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Andersen, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, is on a minimum salary deal, but moving him would allow Cleveland to open up a roster spot and create additional savings on the team’s projected tax bill.

Although the Cavaliers have been mentioned in some intriguing trade rumors involving star players like Carmelo Anthony, Cleveland is more focused on bolstering its bench. According to Kyler, the Cavs are prioritizing adding a point guard and a big man for depth purposes.

Here are a few more items of interest from around the NBA, via Kyler’s report:

  • On Monday night, several reports indicated that the Sixers and Pelicans were discussing a possible swap of Jahlil Okafor for Alexis Ajinca and a 2018 first-round pick. However, a source tells Kyler that Philadelphia may not be on board with that specific framework, preferring to put Jrue Holiday in the deal rather than the future first-rounder. The two teams continue to talk, but both sides are exploring other options as well, writes Kyler.
  • We’ve heard in the past that the Nets are seeking two first-round picks in any Brook Lopez deal. Kyler says that the team is specifically seeking a lottery pick in 2017, plus an additional future first-rounder. It seems unlikely that any team will meet that asking price, but Brooklyn appears content to wait until at least the offseason to get serious about moving Lopez.
  • There’s a “growing sense” that the Kings might move Darren Collison, as well as Kosta Koufos, by the trade deadline, per Kyler.
  • Kyler identifies Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, and C.J. Watson as Magic players that may be on the move this month, though he notes that Orlando’s asking prices remain high. Kyler’s sources suggest that Toronto would be a favorable long-term situation for Ibaka, but there’s no indication that the big man would be willing to sign with the Raptors long-term, or that the Raps would give up “meaningful assets” for Ibaka.

Pelicans Notes: Team Ownership, Asik, Hill, Jones

Tom Benson, owner of the Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, reached a settlement with his estranged heirs, Brett Martel of the Associated Press reports. Benson, 89, had sought to prevent his daughter and her children from inheriting shares of each team (more than 90% of the Pelicans’ non-voting stock, according to ESPN). Had Benson not reached a settlement with his heirs, a trial would have been set to take place Monday, February 6. Benson, who bought the Pelicans (then the New Orleans Hornets) for $338MM in 2012, will maintain controlling shares of each team after the settlement.

More surrounding the Pelicans…

  • Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com praised Terrence Jones‘ pump fake, calling it one of the league’s most unique and effective moves. Jones has enjoyed a stellar bounceback season in New Orleans, averaging 15.7 points with 5.3 rebounds over his last six games. “It’s so damn slow, and it looks just like his shot,” teammate Dante Cunningham said of Jones’ pump fake. “The thing is, you don’t always immediately close out to him, because he’s not necessarily going to kill you with his jump shot, because he’d rather drive and get to the rim. But you watch him and he does it so slowly that you think, ‘Oh, he has to shoot this one,’ so you contest it, but then by the time you get there, he’s still pump-faking.” A free agent-to-be on an affordable contract, Jones is likely to generate interest as the trade deadline approaches.
  • John Reid of NOLA.com had several interesting observations in his Twitter mailbag. Reid endorsed the idea of New Orleans pursuing Wilson Chandler of the Nuggets, calling him an ideal player to use alongside Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Reid lamented the team’s lack of offense, claiming they “just don’t have enough scoring threats on the roster.”
  • Pelicans GM Dell Demps should be making every effort to unload Tyreke Evans, Alexis Ajinca, and Omer Asik via trade, Reid writes. Additionally, Solomon Hill– inked to a four-year, $48MM contract over the offseason- has not performed up to team expectations. Whereas the team expected Hill to develop into a two-way player, his contributions have largely come on the defensive end.

Lowe’s Latest: Barnes, Howard, Evans

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com examines the Pelicans‘ roster building strategy and cautions that the team doesn’t have much time to build a championship roster around Anthony Davis in his latest piece. It’s is packed full of noteworthy trade rumors and tidbits, including the story we passed along earlier today about how the Sixers will take a “hard look” at Jrue Holiday in free agency.

Here are more highlights from the piece:

  • The Pelicans considered making a sizable offer to Harrison Barnes in free agency before deciding to spend their available cap space on multiple players, sources tell Lowe. The scribe adds that Barnes would have considered New Orleans had the team contacted him.
  • The Hawks and Pelicans had exploratory talks about a Dwight Howard deal a couple weeks ago, but that was before Atlanta pulled all of its players off the trade market. Lowe notes that it’s unclear how interested New Orleans was in the deal and adds that there was not unanimous support to acquire Howard within the organization.
  • If the Pelicans decide to shake up the front office at the end of the season, Danny Ferry, who is currently serving in an advisory role with the team, is not likely to take over GM duties, sources tell Lowe.
  • Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday will both be free agents this offseason and Lowe notes that it will be hard for the Pelicans to keep both. The scribe adds that retaining Holiday remains New Orleans’ higher priority.

Sixers Expected To Pursue Jrue Holiday In Free Agency

The Sixers will take a hard look at Jrue Holiday in free agency, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Philadelphia will have the available cap space to offer the point guard a lucrative contract should it chose to do so and Lowe notes that Holiday would be a great fit alongside Ben Simmons.

The Pelicans are worried that Holiday could walk at the end of the season. They are also worried that his departure would cause Anthony Davis to be frustrated with the direction of the franchise. Davis wants Holiday to remain in New Orleans, but he understands it’s out of his control.  “I’m gonna do everything in my power to keep him here,” Davis said. “But it’s a business decision, and he’s a grown man with a family.”

New Orleans could deal Holiday before the deadline out of fear that it will lose him for nothing over the summer. However, Lowe adds that it’s more likely that they hold onto him and hope the free agent bidding war doesn’t get too out of hand.

Holiday previously said he hasn’t thought about his potential free agent decision. He’ll make slightly under $11.3MM this season in the final year of his deal.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Rockets, Pelicans, Gasol

When Mike Conley signed a five-year mega-deal with the Grizzlies last summer, making him the NBA’s highest-paid player, the deal was met with some backlash. However, as Conley tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, it wasn’t the first time that NBA fans and observers had questioned whether he was worth the investment — his initial four-year extension with Memphis received the same kind of scrutiny.

“The first go-round prepared me for the same type of situation, where I knew that it would take a lot of backlash and there would be a lot of people who don’t know who I am,” said the Grizzlies point guard. “Never heard of me or whatever. Now all of a sudden this guy is paid more than everybody else. So I just prepared myself and took it as a challenge, just took it as an opportunity, to use it and be the best player I can be. … It does take a special mentality to be able to understand and handle the moment, handle the situation. It could eat a lot of people up. I try to stay in the positive. In the now. I think of all the work that all the sacrifice that took me to the position to [have] this opportunity. That validates my contract for me.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Rockets aren’t active in trade talks, and even though GM Daryl Morey never sits still, the team is more likely to do something minor than major, if it makes a move at all, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Kyler also weighed in on the Pelicans, tweeting that Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, who are eligible for free agency this summer, are worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline nears.
  • Pau Gasol has made six All-Star teams in his career, and has played in the NBA’s last two midseason exhibitions, but he knew when he signed with the Spurs that he’d likely be forgoing individual accolades in favor of team success, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “I didn’t come here with that type of mindset,” Gasol said of his All-Star streak.
  • Rockets big man Clint Capela, sidelined with a fractured left fibula, has made significant progress and remains on track to return within a four-to-six week window, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela is scheduled to be examined again next week.
  • There are a couple of health-related notes out of Memphis as well, as Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports (via Twitter) that there’s still no timetable for Brandan Wright‘s return. Rookie big man Deyonta Davis, on the other hand, has made an early recovery from a foot injury that sidelined him in December — he was active on Wednesday night and available to play for the Grizzlies, though he didn’t see any action.

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