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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.

Celtics Have “Deep Interest” In P.J. Tucker

The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, and- according to a report from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News– the Celtics have “deep interest” in the 31-year-old. Boston could view Tucker as an alternative to trading for Jimmy Butler; a move that would require giving up their first round draft pick. A defensive standout, Tucker has averaged six rebounds with 1.5 steals through 57 games in 2016/17.

Tucker is on an expiring contract, making $5.3MM in the final season of a three-year, $16.5MM deal. With the addition of Tucker, Deveney notes, GM Danny Ainge would be able to add depth while keeping Boston’s draft picks intact. Interestingly, Deveney points to Tucker’s locker room presence as a potential advantage over Butler, as “Jimmy Buckets” would have to be willing to assume a secondary role behind Isaiah Thomas.

If a move to the Celtics doesn’t materialize, we’ve recently seen the Timberwolves connected to Tucker as a trade deadline possibility.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

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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Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Suns GM: Eric Bledsoe Unlikely To Be Traded

Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Doug Haller of AZCentral.com that Eric Bledsoe is unlikely to be traded at this year’s deadline, citing the 27-year-old’s team-friendly contract.

“We never say ‘never,’ but I think he’s one of the least likely guys on the roster to get traded,” McDonough said.  “He’s under contract for a couple more years after this year. More likely, we’d try to add guys in that 27-and-under age group to play with Eric and (guard) Devin (Booker) and our young core and build that way.”

Now in the third season of a five-year, $70MM contract, Bledsoe has averaged 21.6 points with 6.2 assists through 56 games in 2016/17. Bledsoe would surely gather interest on the trade market, but McDonough appears to be in no rush to deal one of his franchise’s prized assets.

“In terms of his work ethic and his buy-in to what we’re trying to do organizationally, he’s been off the charts,” McDonough said. “He’s made Phoenix his offseason home. It means a lot to him to be a Sun. I think it’s very unlikely to see anything with Eric.”

Earlier in the month, Zach Lowe of ESPN noted the Suns would have to consider moving Bledsoe if the return included a “good wing or center, plus a high first-round pick.” Bledsoe and Devin Booker have been stellar for the 18-39 Suns; in Lowe’s column, coach Earl Watson all but guaranteed Bledsoe and Booker would each be on Phoenix’s roster at the start of 2017/18.

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.

Suns Want A Star

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.

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