New Orleans Pelicans

Hornets, Rockets, Pelicans In Mix For Lou Williams

The Lakers’ front office turnover hasn’t stopped teams around the league from inquiring on Lou Williams. Speaking to reporters today, new Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said that he has already spoken to 10 general managers, per Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). As Bill Oram of The Orange County Register notes (Twitter links), Johnson confirmed that most of his calls have been about Williams, adding that it will take “a lot” to get him.

As we’ve heard in the last 24 hours, the Jazz are in the mix for Williams, and so are the Wizards. However, they have plenty of competition. Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (via Twitter) that the Rockets and Pelicans have also expressed interest in trading for Williams. Chris Haynes of ESPN.com adds Charlotte to the list of Williams suitors as well, tweeting that the Hornets have “aggressively” pursued the veteran guard.

With a 24-32 record, the Hornets aren’t currently in playoff position, but the team remains on the lookout for pieces to improve their 2016/17 roster, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney wrote earlier today Charlotte was one of many teams to inquire on Williams, suggesting that the Hornets have been looking for a scorer off the bench and depth at point guard.

A player like Williams would appeal to the Hornets and other clubs due to both his solid on-court production and his favorable contract. Despite only playing 24.2 minutes per game off the bench for the Lakers, Williams is averaging a career-high 18.6 PPG, and has established new career bests in three-pointers per game (2.1) and 3PT% (.386) so far. The 30-year-old is also earning just $7MM this season and remains under contract for $7MM in 2017/18.

According to both Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype and ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links), teams around the NBA still expect Williams to be moved this week, despite the massive restructuring that took place in the Lakers’ front office.

With Cousins In Town, Holiday Expected To Stay

The Pelicans are unlikely to trade Jrue Holiday prior to the February 23 trade deadline, says Justin Verrier of ESPN. The point guard is the final piece of New Orleans’ suddenly formidable Big Three.

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Pelicans are interested in giving Holiday a max, or near max, contract.

Pelicans To Audition Chalmers, Thompson, Others

3:50pm: Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link) adds Wayne Selden to the list of players auditioning for the Pelicans. Selden, 22, was in camp with the Grizzlies and has spent the regular season with the D-League’s Iowa Energy, averaging 18.3 PPG.

8:57am: The workouts noted below are happening today at the Pelicans’ facility, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link).

8:40am: The Pelicans were widely praised for their trade for DeMarcus Cousins this week, but even though the acquisition cost for the All-NBA center wasn’t exorbitant, New Orleans’ roster looks a little unbalanced in the wake of the deal. Having sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, and Langston Galloway to Sacramento in the swap, the Pelicans will now be looking to fortify their backcourt, and will audition several free agent guards this week, per ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link).

According to Stein (via Twitter), the group of guards working out for New Orleans this week includes Mario Chalmers, Hollis Thompson, Quinn Cook, and Reggie Williams. All of those players except Chalmers are currently on D-League teams, but aren’t under contract with the affiliated NBA club, making them free agents.

Cook and Williams each have previous experience with the Pelicans — Cook was with the club in training camp, while Williams had a brief stint in New Orleans earlier this season before he was waived to make room for Donatas Motiejunas. Both players have had solid seasons in the D-League, though Cook in particular has stood out. The former Duke guard has averaged 26.0 PPG for the Canton Charge and earned MVP honors this past weekend in the NBADL All-Star Game.

Like Williams, Thompson was on an NBA roster earlier this season, but the Sixers cut the four-year veteran before his salary for the year became fully guaranteed. He has since played for the Spurs’ D-League affiliate in Austin. As for Chalmers, he’s the most well-known player in the group, having won a pair of championships with the Heat and appeared in 580 total NBA games for Miami and Memphis.

After trading three players for two in the Cousins deal, the Pelicans currently have an open spot on their 15-man roster. The club may wait until after the trade deadline to seriously consider signing a free agent guard, just in case that roster spot can be used to accommodate another trade.

More DeMarcus Cousins Trade Fallout, Reactions

A player of DeMarcus Cousins‘ caliber doesn’t get moved often, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of notes, reactions, and details to round up after the deal got done. On Monday, we published a pair of posts that covered some of the fallout from the deal. We’ve got more to cover today, so let’s dive in…

  • In a piece for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor examines the ripple effect of the Cousins trade and explains why Vivek Ranadive‘s fondness for Buddy Hield resulted in a deal with the Pelicans. A source tells O’Connor that the Suns were willing to offer multiple first-round picks – including one or both of their selections from the Heat – and that the Nuggets were believed to be willing to part with anyone except Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for Cousins.
  • Pursuing Cousins was a last-ditch attempt by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak to save their jobs with the Lakers, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter). Amick adds that Buss “really wanted” Cousins, though Kupchak handled the talks with Sacramento. Those discussions came to an end when L.A. was unwilling to include Brandon Ingram.
  • Cousins got emotional last night as he tried to say goodbye to Sacramento (Twitter video link via Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140). Cousins told Sean Cunningham of ABC10 (Twitter link) today that he’ll always love the city, and plans to remain a presence in the community. According to Cunningham (via Twitter), Cousins also said today that he still hasn’t talked to Kings GM Vlade Divac — it sounds like that may not happen.
  • The Pelicans have now paired two Kentucky stars in their frontcourt, but don’t expect John Calipari to make the move to the NBA to coach Cousins and Anthony Davis. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show this week, Calipari was asked in jest if he might end up in New Orleans, and the Kentucky head coach shot down the idea, saying that’s it’s “not happening” (link via The Detroit News).

Kyler: Pelicans Willing To Go Up To Max For Holiday?

  • Other free agent point guards who are strong bets to re-sign with their current teams: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), and Kyle Lowry (Raptors). According to Kyler, New Orleans is prepared to offer Holiday the max, or something close to it, while Toronto is willing to make a similar offer to Lowry, as long as he wants to remain with the team.

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Trade Deadline Outlook: Southwest Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors is 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, Southeast, Pacific, and Central. Today, we’re examining the Southwest.

Buyers:

The Spurs (43-13) lead the way among the Southwest’s group of buyers, but R.C. Buford typically isn’t all that active around the deadline. Even though San Antonio has been a perennial title contender in recent years, the team’s only in-season trade since 2013 came three years ago, when the Spurs sent Nando De Colo to Toronto in exchange for Austin Daye. It wasn’t exactly a franchise-altering move. While it’s possible the Spurs do something small at this year’s deadline, there’s a strong chance they’ll simply stand pat.Terrence Jones vertical

The Rockets (40-18) have also expressed reluctance to make major changes and upset team chemistry, but Daryl Morey is always exploring potential upgrades, and has a long history of making deadline deals. Houston technically didn’t make a move at the deadline a year ago, trading for Josh Smith in January rather than February. But before 2016, Morey had made at least one deadline deal every year since taking over as the club’s GM in 2007. This year, the club has been linked to veterans like Wilson Chandler, and reportedly has some interest in adding a ball-handler.

It may be a quiet deadline for the Grizzlies (34-24), who had been on the lookout for a backup point guard and an athletic big man. Toney Douglas has been solid in the backcourt since rejoining the club, and Brandan Wright has been effective in the frontcourt since getting healthy, so those needs may not be quite as pressing now. Memphis has already traded away its 2017 and 2019 first-round picks, which doesn’t leave a lot of ammo for the club to go after a legitimate impact player this week.

Speaking of legitimate impact players, the Pelicans (23-34) already made their big move this week, swinging a deal with Sacramento for All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins. That trade signaled that New Orleans is a strong buyer this month, despite being 11 games below .500, and the club may not be done yet. Having sent out three guards in the Cousins swap, the Pelicans are in the market for backcourt help, and have reportedly Terrence Jones available as they search for deals.

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Community Shootaround: Will Another Star Player Be Moved?

Last night’s trade between the Pelicans and Kings came about quickly. Within the span of an hour, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that Vlade Divac had narrowed down his two best offers for DeMarcus Cousins, and that a deal had subsequently been reached with New Orleans. (Twitter links)

We had read variations of “DeMarcus Cousins is not being traded” many times over; once by the Kings‘ GM, and even from Cousins himself. As the February 23 trade deadline approaches, this deal served as a reminder of the exciting and unpredictable nature of the NBA’s trade deadline.

There’s plenty of time for another momentous trade to occur before the deadline, but which player(s) will be moved? As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported this morning, the odds of a Carmelo Anthony trade now appear “very slim.” And, aside from Brandon Jennings playfully teasing a trade on Twitter, it’s unclear whether the Pacers will find a new home for Paul George. What’s more, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bulls are leaning against trading Jimmy Butler.

Here’s what we want to know: which star players, if any, will be moved by Thursday’s deadline? Do you think any trades will be as high-profile as last night’s blockbuster? Which teams’ playoff chances would improve the most from an impact trade?

Please take to the comments section to give us your input on this subject. We look forward to hearing your opinion.

Divac: Kings Had Better Cousins Offer Two Days Ago

Speaking to reporters today after the DeMarcus Cousins trade was formally announced, Kings general manager Vlade Divac said that he had a better offer on the table two days ago for Cousins, according to Tim Cato of SBNation.com and Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento (Twitter links). “I don’t want to discuss in details about the process,” said Divac, who indicated that the Pelicans’ package was the next-best offer after the one that fell through.

[RELATED: Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins to Pelicans]

Whether or not Divac’s statement is true – and there’s no reason to think it’s not – it’s unclear why he felt motivated to share that with the media today. For Kings fans upset about the team’s return for Cousins, the admission will likely just be another signal that the franchise mishandled the trade process. It’s also not exactly a vote of confidence for Buddy Hield and the other new Kings, who are essentially being told that they weren’t the club’s first choice.

Despite his mention of that other offer, Divac insisted that now was the best time to complete a Cousins deal, and that the Pelicans’ proposal was the best one still on the table for the team, tweets Aaron Bruski of Hoop-Ball.com. According to Divac, the decision to trade Cousins was made recently, but the team entered All-Star weekend knowing that the star center would likely be moved — Cousins’ value would’ve been reduced further if Sacramento had waited until the offseason, in the view of the Kings’ GM (all Twitter links via Bruski).

Although Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway were seemingly included in the trade as salary-matching pieces, the Kings have no immediate plans to waive either player, Divac said today (Twitter link via Cunningham).

Kings Trade DeMarcus Cousins To Pelicans

FEBRUARY 20: The trade is official, according to press release issued by the Kings and Pelicans. Sacramento has waived Matt Barnes to clear room for the extra incoming player.DeMarcusCousins vertical

“It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization,” Kings GM Vlade Divac said in a statement. “Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud.”

For more notes, reactions, and details on the deal, check out our posts from earlier today, plus our initial Sunday report below.

FEBRUARY 19: 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.

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.

More Notes, Reactions, Updates On Cousins Trade

In the wake of Sunday night’s DeMarcus Cousins trade agreement between the Pelicans and Kings, we rounded up several notes, reactions, and details on the deal earlier today. Updates and reactions continue to trickle in, however, so let’s round up the latest…

News/rumors:

  • A source familiar with the Kings‘ thinking tells Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive believes Buddy Hield has “Steph Curry potential,” which was a key motivator for Sacramento. Given Hield’s struggles so far to adjust to the NBA, that seems like an awfully optimistic projection.
  • The Celtics never had any real interest in Cousins, league sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. According to Himmelsbach, Boston “could not overlook all the warning signs” associated with the star center. “It’s just really hard when you can’t find one basketball person [to vouch for him],” one source said.
  • Although an earlier report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested that the Kings would probably waive Langston Galloway after acquiring him, Bobby Marks of The Vertical now writes that the team is planning to hang onto Galloway, who has a $5.434MM player option for 2017/18.
  • The Pelicans likely aren’t done after striking a deal for Cousins, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who tweets that he expects the team to try to claim, sign, or trade for a backcourt player.
  • An earlier report suggested that the Pelicans offered Tyreke Evans to the Sixers in a package for Jahlil Okafor, but Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News (Twitter link) hears from a source that Evans wasn’t a part of that trade scenario.

Reactions/analysis:

  • The acquisition of Cousins is a franchise-altering move that will return the Pelicans to relevancy in the NBA landscape, writes Justin Verrier of ESPN.com.
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical makes the case that the Kings‘ timing in trading Cousins – interrupting the standout center’s enjoyment of All-Star weekend – was a microcosm of how they handled his entire stint in Sacramento. Sunday represented one last night of Kings chaos for Cousins, as Ben Golliver of SI.com details.
  • While the Cousins trade should mark rock bottom for the Kings, things could get even worse for the franchise before they get better, says Tom Ziller of SBNation.com.
  • The Kings‘ decision to trade Cousins is the “sanest move they’ve made in years,” argues Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “This was a definite culture move,” a source with insight into the deal told Beck. “Enough was enough.”
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical provides a full breakdown of the swap from both the Pelicans‘ and Kings‘ perspectives, with a focus on the salary cap details.
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