Los Angeles Lakers

Kings Agree To Trade DeMarcus Cousins To Pelicans

After publicly vowing earlier this season that he wouldn’t be moved, the Kings have agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.DeMarcusCousins vertical

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets that the deal consists of Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, New Orleans’ 2017 first-round pick (top-three protected), and Philadelphia’s 2017 second-round pick going to Sacramento, with Cousins and Omri Casspi heading to New Orleans. David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) initially reported that the Kings would also get a 2019 first-rounder, but he has since issued a correction, tweeting that New Orleans balked at the Kings’ request to include that pick.

Earlier this evening, news broke that the Kings and Pelicans had engaged in discussions about a possible Cousins deal. At the time, it was reported by Scotto that the standout center could potentially be shipped to New Orleans in exchange for a package involving Hield, a 2017 first-round pick and an additional first-round pick. Later, in an article published at The Vertical, Wojnarowski suggested that expiring contracts could also be involved.

Following the first report, Wojnarowski tweeted that Kings general manager Vlade Divac had formally presented what the front office believed to be the two best trade proposals to team owner Vivek Ranadive. Previously, despite concerns throughout the organization about Cousins’ temperament, Ranadive was intent on holding onto the franchise pillar, and Divac had publicly reiterated that stance.

For the Kings, it’s an abrupt about-face, and it’s fair to wonder if Divac’s public and private declarations that Cousins wouldn’t be moved will hurt his credibility with agents and players in the future, as Wojnarowski tweets.

Over the last several hours, other teams, including the Suns and Lakers, were linked to the Kings’ Cousins talks, though the discussions with New Orleans were viewed as the most serious. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter links), the Lakers balked at Sacramento’s asking price and opted against including Brandon Ingram in a package.

Ultimately, the Kings aren’t getting a massive haul in return for their All-NBA big man, though it’s worth noting that several pre-draft reports back in June indicated that the team was very high on Hield. Still, it’s surprising that the former Oklahoma sharpshooter and a draft pick that may not even end up in the lottery are the centerpieces of a Cousins deal. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets there wasn’t much of a market for the All-Star big man, according to several executives.

The deal also isn’t necessarily great news for Cousins, who will now be ineligible to receive a Designated Veteran Extension this summer. The 26-year-old would have met the criteria for a new deal worth 35% of the cap if he remained in Sacramento, and there were indications in recent weeks that both sides were on board with the idea of getting something done. Now that he’s changing teams, Cousins will be eligible for a far more modest extension.

Cousins’ agent Jarinn Akana suggested earlier today that his client wasn’t likely to sign an extension this summer with any team that traded for him, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported (Twitter links). However, that could have been a negotiating tactic — if teams were worried about their ability to re-sign Cousins, they may have been reluctant to trade for him, in which case he would’ve remained with the Kings and been eligible for a super-max deal. For what it’s worth, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the Pelicans are confident that they can ultimately lock up Cousins to a new contract. If New Orleans can’t extend Cousins prior to free agency, he’ll hit the open market in 2018.

In recent weeks, the Pelicans had been linked to centers such as Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez as they dangled a first-round pick in an effort to find a frontcourt partner for Anthony Davis. The team had reportedly been offering its 2018 pick, having been reluctant to move its first-rounder in 2017, given this year’s strong draft class. However, it makes sense that New Orleans was willing to change course for a player of Cousins’ caliber.

With Cousins and Davis in the frontcourt, the Pelicans will feature two of the league’s very best big men. Cousins, who was named to the All-NBA second team last year, has arguably been even better in 2016/17, averaging a career-high 27.8 PPG to go along with 10.7 RPG and 4.9 APG. His presence on the Pelicans’ roster may have an impact on Jrue Holiday‘s decision in free agency this summer. Holiday is on an expiring deal, but Davis has been lobbying the veteran point guard to re-sign with New Orleans.

This move will also have draft-related ramifications for the Sixers and Bulls. Chicago had been in line to receive Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2017 if it fell outside of the top 10. With Cousins no longer on their roster though, the Kings seem likely to slip in the standings, which is bad news for the Bulls. Chicago will receive a 2017 second-rounder from the Kings if Sacramento’s first-rounder falls in the top 10.

As for the Sixers, they’ll have the option to swap first-round picks with Sacramento if the Kings retain their selection. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Philadelphia currently has the league’s fifth-worst record, while the Kings rank 11th, but things are tight enough that those spots could flip quickly.

For the deal to become official, the Kings will have to remove at least one more player from their roster, via release or trade. The team is also considered likely to waive Galloway after acquiring him, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The third-year guard needed to be included in the swap for salary-matching purposes.

In other cap-related housekeeping notes, Evans’ deal includes a 15% trade kicker, which will add an extra $458K to his salary. The Pelicans will pay that trade bonus, though it will be charged to Sacramento’s cap. Each team will create a modest trade exception in the deal as well — the Kings’ TPE should be worth Casspi’s salary ($2.963MM), while the Pelicans’ TPE should be worth Hield’s salary ($3.517MM)

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Woj: Butler Trade To The Celtics Still Possible

A potential trade sending Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to the Celtics will loom over deadline week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link).

In a video interview, Wojnarowski says the teams have discussed a deal involving Butler, but talks haven’t progressed very far. He adds that Chicago officials have to to fully commit to the rebuilding process before they would be willing to give up Butler.

Wojnarowski says the trade would involve one of the Nets’ first-rounders — but probably not both — that Boston owns in the next two drafts. If the Bulls get this year’s pick, Wojnarowski states they can find a replacement for Derrick Rose, who was traded to the Knicks last summer. Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball are point guards mentioned as likely choices at the top of the draft.

Teaming Butler with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would give the Celtics enough firepower to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East, Wojnarowski states, not just this season but for years to come.

Other highlights from the interview:

  • The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. However, both teams are low on draft picks and may not have the assets that Denver would want in return.
  • The Thunder were trying to acquire Kings forward Rudy Gay before a season-ending Achilles injury.
  • The Wizards would like to add another wing player to their bench, with the LakersLou Williams and the NetsBojan Bogdanovic as possibilities. Wojnarowski says Washington is willing to part with a draft pick to get veteran help.
  • The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, hoping to get picks or young players in return.
  • Chandler is one of several centers on the market, along with the SixersJahlil Okafor, the MavericksAndrew Bogut, the BucksGreg Monroe and the NetsBrook Lopez. However, there is limited interest in back-to-the basket centers. Wojnarowski speculates that one or two of them may be traded this week, but cautions that there aren’t enough buyers for all of them to be moved.
  • Unless something changes, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the Knicks. New York management hasn’t presented him with any deals that would tempt him to waive his no-trade clause. Most of the teams that were interested in dealing for Anthony are now “looking in other directions,” but Wojnarowski thinks the Clippers might revisit their attempt to land Anthony this summer.

Trade Deadline Outlook: Pacific Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic, Northwest, and Southeast. Today, we’re examining the Pacific.

Buyers:

As the odds-on favorite to win the 2017 NBA championship, the Warriors (47-9) are undoubtedly buyers rather than sellers, but the team may not be overly active within the next few days. Adding another reliable guard or rim protector would provide the roster with a little additional depth as the playoffs approach, but Golden State doesn’t have any glaring holes that need to be filled, and the team isn’t brimming with expendable trade assets. With huge max deals for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant looming, the Warriors may need to rely on young, inexpensive players like Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney, and Damian Jones to assume regular rotation roles in future seasons, so it makes sense to hang onto them rather than to dangle them in search of a minor upgrade.

The Clippers (35-21) will likely look a little harder for an upgrade than the Warriors, but like Golden State, their trade assets are limited. A 2021 pick is the earliest first-rounder Los Angeles could move, and as the Carmelo Anthony rumors proved, adding an impact player would probably require giving up one or more rotation players out of a group that includes Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Redick. If the Clippers were willing to make Blake Griffin available and really reshape their roster, things could get interesting, but there’s no indication that’s on the table at all. If L.A. makes a move, it’s far more likely be a small one.

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Kupchak: Lakers More Active In Trade Talks This Year

Although the Lakers’ recent hiring of Magic Johnson as an advisor appears to have complicated their front office structure, that hasn’t stopped the club from being actively involved in trade discussions this month, according to general manager Mitch Kupchak. Kupchak tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that the Lakers are always active, but that their growing number of trade assets has created more opportunities this year.

“Quite frankly, compared to the last three or four years, we have a lot of talent on this roster that I think a lot of people have interest in — varying levels of interest,” Kupchak said. “I would think there’s more meaningful discussions this year than there have been the last two or three years.”

While Kupchak and Jim Buss have made the roster decisions for the Lakers in recent years, Johnson’s presence figures to shake things up. The Hall-of-Famer hasn’t been shy about voicing his desire to “call the shots” for the franchise, and has spoken to reporters about what he’d do if he were in that position, including offering Kobe Bryant a job. Johnson is scheduled to meet with Kupchak and Buss on Monday, at which point the Lakers’ decision-makers figure to discuss their approach to the deadline.

As Kupchak, Buss, and Johnson mull potential options for the Lakers, they’ll have to consider how any deals will affect the team’s performance on the court. The Lakers have plenty of incentive to remain near the bottom of the standings, since they’ll send their 2017 first-round pick to Philadelphia if it falls outside of the top three. Currently, L.A. has the league’s third-worst record, as our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show. A desire to remain in the bottom three in the standings may push the club to move someone like Lou Williams, who has been the Lakers’ leading scorer this season.

[RELATED: Lakers shopping Lou Williams]

Although Kupchak suggested there have been more “meaningful” trade talks to this season, he reiterated a point he made earlier in this season, telling Ganguli that he’d be perfectly happy to stand pat as well.

“I really like this group,” Kupchak said. “They get along really well together, the guys that are here as mentors and leaders are doing a great job. The young players are showing growth. So it’s all good.”

Trade Notes: Warriors, Gibson, Raptors, Okafor

The Warriors haven’t been involved in many trade rumors in recent weeks, which makes sense, since it’s hard to find many areas the team needs to improve. According to Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News, general manager Bob Myers intends to keep an eye out for possible deals, but is happy to stand pat if nothing materializes.

“We don’t want to disrupt what we have,” the Warriors GM said. “Doesn’t mean we won’t answer the phone, doesn’t mean we won’t explore possibilities. But reality is, we like who we have and, even if we didn’t, our options are somewhat limited. Utah has our first (round pick) this year from the (Andre) Iguodala transaction back in 2013. So we’ll see what happens. If we end up not doing anything, that would be a fine outcome as well.”

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Before the Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka on Tuesday, the team had been engaged in discussions with the Bulls about Taj Gibson. According to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, Terrence Ross wasn’t believed to be a part of those talks, though the two sides were discussing a package that included a first-round pick. Having sent Ross and a first-rounder to Orlando, the Raps are now almost certainly out on Gibson, though the veteran power forward acknowledges there will likely be more chatter up until next Thursday.
  • Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun wonders if the Raptors are considering a follow-up move after trading for Ibaka. As Wolstat points out, Toronto will have a crowded frontcourt when Patrick Patterson gets healthy, and Cory Joseph might be expendable if the club has confidence in its other point guard options behind Kyle Lowry.
  • Having been pulled from the Sixers‘ lineup for the last two games, Jahlil Okafor admits he thought there was a “good chance” he’d be traded to another team by now, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details. However, he’s ready to focus on his return to the court tonight in Boston.
  • A handful of ESPN insiders, including Kevin Pelton and Amin Elhassen (Insider link), examine the Pacific division and make a few suggestions for what sort of deals the Clippers, Kings, Lakers, Suns, and Warriors should consider.

Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Lakers Shopping Lou Williams

The Lakers are shopping Lou Williams and it’s likely they move him before the trade deadline, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reports. Kennedy speculates that Cleveland could be a fit for the veteran. The Cavs have an open roster spot after trading Chris Andersen to the Hornets.

Williams, who will make $7MM both this season and next, is having a solid year off the bench for Los Angeles. He’s averaging 18.4 points per game while shooting 38.2% from behind the arc. He is also sporting a career-high 23.4 player efficiency rating.

The Lakers owe their first-round pick to the Sixers if it falls outside the top three. Kennedy notes that if the team deals Williams, it will have a better shot at keeping its pick.

Latest On Magic Johnson, Lakers

After suggesting last week that he ultimately wants to “call the shots” for the Lakers, new team advisor Magic Johnson has clarified those comments, though he didn’t exactly walk them back. The Hall-of-Famer tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com that while Jim Buss is the one calling the shots in the Lakers’ front office for now, Johnson wants to be the one with the decision-making power in the future.

“When I say calling the shots, it’s more, ‘Somebody has to be the final decision-maker.’ I would love that to be me,” Johnson said. “Everybody has their input, and then somebody has to make the final call. Once we gather all the facts, I’d love to be the person making the final call.”

Although Johnson said that he doesn’t want to be the team’s general manager, he tells Shelburne that he’d welcome a role in which the Lakers’ GM reports to him.

“I’d rely on people to do that, and same persona would be the day-to-day person,” Johnson said. “Then I’d have that role where that person reports to me, and we’d talk about where we are, what we’re doing, whether that’s scouting players, whether that’s transactions, whether we’re going to extend a player. All those things.”

While Johnson admits he’s not the one calling the shots at this point, that hasn’t stopped him from talking about what he would do if he were in charge. Appearing on ESPN’s First Take, Johnson said today that he’d want Kobe Bryant to join him in the Lakers’ front office, since Bryant “understands winning.” According to Johnson, he’d ask Kobe what sort of role he’d want, and would be happy to take “whatever time he has.”

Here’s more on Johnson and his new role in Los Angeles:

  • In an interview on Monday with CBS This Morning, Johnson said he thinks it will take “three to five years” to get the Lakers back into contention, as Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Of course, Buss famously made a similar pronouncement three years ago, but the Lakers now have a few more young building blocks in place than they did in 2014.
  • According to Shelburne and Medina, Johnson is scheduled to meet next Monday with Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak to discuss where the Lakers’ roster stands and what’s next for the franchise.
  • The Lakers have been exploring potential trade options, but are considered unlikely to make a deal this month, since the structure of the front office remains up in the air, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. League sources tell Kyler that they expect the team to stand pat unless there’s a “no-brainer” offer on the table to improve the club’s long-term outlook.
  • Jovan Buha of ESPN.com spoke to Lakers head coach Luke Walton about Johnson’s potential impact on the franchise going forward.

Lakers Notes: Draft Pick, Johnson, Russell

The Lakers own a record of 19-37, which is currently the third-worst mark in the league. If the season ended today, the team would have a 15.6% chance at the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, as our Reverse Standings indicate.

If Los Angeles’ 2017 draft pick ends up outside the top-3, Philadelphia will receive it and the team’s 2019 first round pick will go to Orlando. If the Lakers do not convey their 2017 first-rounder to the Sixers, they will send two second-rounders to the Magic instead of that 2019 first-rounder.

As we wait to see where the team’s pick ends up, check out some notes from Los Angeles:

  • Magic Johnson was hired to be a special advisor to Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, but Johnson recently revealed that he wants to “call the shots” in the front office. Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register wonders if Johnson is the right person to run the show in Los Angeles. Miller admits that Johnson will restore legitimacy to the team, but adds that his presence may not help in free agency. The scribe notes that the former Laker great was part of the team’s pitch to Carmelo Anthony in 2014 and it didn’t bring the star to L.A.
  • D’Angelo Russell is showing signs that he can live up to his 2015 draft status, Ben Alamar of ESPN.com writes. The Ohio State product is posting similar numbers to Chris Paul when Paul first came into the league. Alamar notes that Russell’s biggest deficiency is his ability to get to the free throw line, as the point guard is averaging less than 5.5 free throw attempts per 100 possessions.
  • There’s reason to be optimistic about Julius Randle‘s career going forward, Alamar contends in the same piece. The scribe applauds Randle’s passing ability as well as his rebounding ability, but notes that the power forward’s efficiency on offense is holding him back.

Lakers Meeting With Larry Sanders

The Lakers are currently meeting with free agent center Larry Sanders, according to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). It’s not clear how serious the Lakers’ interest in Sanders is, or if L.A. was one of six teams reportedly in attendance at the big man’s workout in Miami last week.

Sanders’ agent, Joel Bell, expressed optimism over the weekend that his client would be on an NBA roster soon, telling Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times that a lot of teams had expressed interest in Sanders, and at least one of those clubs had made a contract offer. However, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) hears that Sanders “came in really under weight” to his workout last week, adding that there wasn’t much serious interest from teams.

Sanders hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2014/15 season, when he announced that he was leaving the game for personal reasons. The Bucks waived him under the stretch provision, and he remains on the team’s cap at about $1.866MM per season through 2021/22. That figure would be reduced by setoff if he signs with another organization.

Sanders, now 28, flashed promising upside during his initial stint in the NBA, so teams taking a look at him now will be interested to see if he still looks like that same player. In the 2012/13 season, the last time he was fully healthy, Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. Injuries and off-the-court problems limited him to 50 games over his last two seasons in the NBA.

If the Lakers get serious about signing Sanders, they’d have to waive or trade someone to clear a spot on their 15-man roster. L.A. is about $530K under the cap and still has its full $2.898MM room exception available, so the team could offer Sanders more than the minimum, if necessary.

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