DeMarcus Cousins

Latest On Ja Morant

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has deactivated his Twitter and Instagram pages following an incident late Friday night that led to his decision to “take some time away” from the team, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Morant created a firestorm around the NBA when he posted an Instagram Live video (Twitter link) to his personal account around 4:19 a.m., roughly four hours after the end of Friday’s game in Denver. The video, which appeared to show Morant displaying a gun at a strip club, has sparked an investigation by the league.

Cole points out that Morant is typically active on social media and uses both platforms to post personal messages and promote his business interests. Morant recently became Powerade’s first athletic partnership in more than five years and he has a Nike Ja 1 sneaker that’s set to be released in April.

There’s more on the Morant situation:

  • Morant finally crossed a line that the Grizzlies couldn’t ignore, observes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Mannix states that the team had been “wishy washy” in its response when Morant was allegedly involved in a confrontation with members of the Pacers’ traveling party in January and when he reportedly punched a teen during a pickup game at his house last July. Mannix adds that the Grizzlies are dealing with Morant like a small-market team that’s afraid of alienating its star.
  • Morant needs to take control of the people he surrounds himself with and the places he goes, ABC’s Jalen Rose said on tonight’s “NBA Countdown” (video link). “I’m glad in his statement that he owned that I need to make changes for me,” Rose said, “because as the leader, as the breadwinner, you control the environment. The people that are around you, you select.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins, who has been hoping to get signed by an NBA team all season, calls Morant and the Grizzlies an example of what can go wrong without veteran leadership. “Hope this shows the importance of REAL VETS in the locker room,” Cousins tweeted. “No young team should be without multiple veterans on the roster.”
  • Nike is standing by Morant amid the controversy, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The company released a statement that reads, “We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support his prioritization of his well-being.”

Lakers Notes: Cousins, Leonard, Brown, Davis, Reaves, Walker

DeMarcus Cousins and Meyers Leonard were impressive during workouts with the Lakers, coach Darvin Ham told reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN, after Saturday’s practice. Both free agent centers auditioned Friday for L.A., which is seeking frontcourt help with Anthony Davis sidelined by a foot injury.

“They both looked great,” Ham said. “Whether or not we’re able to do something with them is a different story. But we’re constantly trying to kick the tires on different scenarios.”

Cousins, a four-time All-Star, is hoping for another NBA opportunity at age 32 after playing for the Bucks and Nuggets last season. McMenamin notes that Cousins signed with the Lakers as a free agent in 2019, but an injury suffered during that summer prevented him from playing. Even though he was waived in February of that season, he remained close to the team and received a championship ring when L.A. won the title.

Leonard, 30, is hoping to revive his career after being out of the league since 2021 due to injuries and the fallout from an antisemitic slur. During that time, he has been rehabbing after shoulder and ankle surgeries, according to McMenamin, and working to repair his reputation.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Sterling Brown‘s 10-day contract will expire Sunday night, and Ham was noncommittal when asked if the team plans to keep him on the roster, McMenamin adds. Brown, who also played for Ham when he was an assistant coach with the Bucks, has gone scoreless in four games with L.A. while averaging 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 6.0 minutes per night. “It depends on our health status and what we feel comfortable doing and making as a next step,” Ham said. The Lakers currently have a full roster and would need to open up a spot before they could sign Cousins or Leonard.
  • Davis, who has been out of action since December 16, did some on-court work during today’s practice, tweets Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ham said Davis is “trending in the right direction.”
  • Austin Reaves, who’s dealing with a strained left hamstring, was able to do individual drills at practice today, tweets Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Ham said Lonnie Walker is making progress toward returning from left knee tendinitis. Both players are projected to have their conditions reevaluated sometime this week.

L.A. Notes: Pistons, Cousins, Lakers Frontcourt, Clippers

The Lakers have long been linked to forward Bojan Bogdanovic — back when he was still on Utah and in the months since he was traded to Detroit. In an article about potential deadline buyers and sellers with Chris Mannix, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated hears that the Lakers and Pistons “have discussed a deal that would include both Bogdanovic and Nerlens Noel.”

Rumors last month indicated that the Lakers offered Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and a protected first-round pick for Bogdanovic, but this is the first time we’ve seen them linked to Noel this season. Adding his $9.24MM salary to that framework complicates a trade from a salary-matching perspective — the Lakers would have to add three players on minimum salaries.

Replacing Beverley and Nunn with Russell Westbrook‘s $47.1MM expiring deal would mean the Pistons would have to add more salary, so more players would have to be involved in either scenario.

Here’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • DeMarcus Cousinsaudition for the Lakers is scheduled for today, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. In case you missed it, the Lakers are also working out Meyers Leonard today. Both big men are unrestricted free agents.
  • LeBron James said earlier this week that he believes a frontcourt with himself, Anthony Davis and Thomas Bryant “could be extremely beneficial for our ballclub.” Head coach Darvin Ham agreed that it was worth looking into, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link). “They’re all highly skilled players. … They can all score at all three levels. They can defend. They all can have good activity, good instincts. So, yeah, that’s something we’ll definitely take a look at,” Ham said.
  • In an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today, Richard Jefferson said there might be some interference from the Clippers‘ front office when it comes to coaching decisions. “This is pure speculation… I’m hearing grumblings that people up top are having opinions about who should be playing… There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen and that is never a good recipe,” he said (Twitter video link via Talkin’ NBA). Ordinarily, I wouldn’t put much stock into something that Jefferson says is “pure speculation,” but he does have connections to the Clippers — he played under head coach Tyronn Lue with the Cavaliers and under president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank when Frank coached the Nets.
  • Lue told reporters, including Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter video link), that Paul George (hamstring) and Luke Kennard (calf) would not practice with the Clippers on Thursday, but both players were working out and shooting prior to practice. George has been ruled out for Friday’s contest against Denver and Kennard seems unlikely to suit up.

DeMarcus Cousins To Work Out For Lakers

The Lakers will bring in former All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for a workout sometime next week, sources tell Chris Haynes 0f Bleacher Report.

Cousins, who spent time with the Bucks and Nuggets last season, has been working out six days a week in Las Vegas in hopes of returning to the NBA, according to Haynes. He reportedly turned down a chance to play in Taiwan in late November.

The Lakers have been hoping to add a veteran big man to their roster, and that interest has increased in the wake of Anthony Davisfoot injury. Now that teams are permitted to sign players to 10-day contracts, that’s likely to be an avenue for Cousins to come to L.A. if he’s impressive in his workout.

Cousins signed with Milwaukee in November of last season, but he was waived in January before his contract became guaranteed. He inked three 10-day contracts with Denver before being signed for the rest of the season and averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 31 games as the primary backup for Nikola Jokic.

Davis continues to make progress toward a return, Haynes reports in the same story. According to Haynes’ sources, Davis plans to test the condition of his foot in an individual workout in a few days. He’s been suffering minimal pain as he goes through rehab, the sources add.

Davis hasn’t played since December 16, but the Lakers have managed to stay in the race for a play-in berth. They’re currently 12th in the West at 17-21, just a game-and-a-half away from 10th place. Thomas Bryant has been a capable replacement while Davis is out, and the addition of Cousins would provide even more depth in the middle.

The Lakers also held a workout Thursday with free agent shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, who was recently waived by the Mavericks, tweets Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. General Manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham both attended the session to watch Dorsey, according to Peek.

Lakers Notes: Davis Injury, LeBron, Westbrook

The Lakers haven’t issued an official statement on the status of Anthony Davis, but a weekend report indicating he will miss at least a month with an injured right foot could alter the course of their season and their approach to the trade deadline, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Specialists were still evaluating Davis as of Sunday night, and coach Darvin Ham suggested the team may release more information on the injury on Monday. L.A. is 12th in the West at 13-16 and is entering a tough part of the schedule with seven of its next eight games on the road.

Davis’ injury and how it might affect management’s approach to upgrading the roster were among the topics at Sunday’s post-game press conference.

“Not a question for me,” LeBron James said. “I have no idea. When I’m playing, I show up, prepare, go to work and get my guys ready to go win a basketball game. I play the game, I’m not in the front office, so we’ll see. But I’m focused on the game and us trying to win basketball games, especially when I’m out on the floor.”

As James left the media session, Buha adds, he told a reporter, “Go ask (general manager) Rob (Pelinka) those questions.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers are already facing inflated prices on the trade market as rival teams understand they’re under pressure to make a deal, reports Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. As an example, he states that the Jazz asked L.A. for a first-round pick in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic before the season began, but ultimately traded him to Detroit without getting a first-rounder in return. Pincus notes that the Lakers were “conflicted internally” about risking their future on any trade that didn’t make them an obvious contender, even before the Davis injury. If Davis is lost for an extended stretch, Pincus suggests L.A. might focus on smaller moves such as adding a free agent center (maybe DeMarcus Cousins) and seeing what it can get for Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and second-round picks.
  • James’ situation is unprecedented for a player of his age and talent, per Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated. Although he’s still performing at an all-NBA level as he nears his 38th birthday, James faces the prospect of another non-playoff season.
  • While Davis is sidelined, James will likely see some time at center, which was effective last season, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. There will also be an increased focus on James’ pairing with Russell Westbrook, as Goon notes that with Westbrook’s move to a reserve role they have shared the court for just 17.2 minutes per game this season.

Anthony, Cousins, Thomas Uninterested In Taiwan League

It doesn’t appear than any other big-name veterans free agents are seriously considering signing with a Taiwanese team, Marc Stein reports in a Substack post.

Dwight Howard signed with Taoyuan Leopards earlier this month, though he’s currently sidelined with a knee injury.

However, three other former All-Stars who have reportedly drawn interest from Taiwanese teams — Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas — have shown no interest in playing there. The trio continue to wait for another NBA opportunity, regardless of any overseas interest, per Stein.

In terms of Cousins, it rebukes a report that he would soon sign with a team in the Taiwan league. Another report a couple of weeks back stated the Tainan TSG GhostHawks were pursuing Anthony. Stein also wrote in a previous post that Taiwanese teams were targeting Thomas.

Among those players, Anthony would appear to have the best chance of eventually signing another NBA deal. He averaged 13.3 points per game last season for the Lakers, and Stein says the opportunity to play a 20th NBA season “holds considerable meaning” for him.

And-Ones: Cousins, Howard, Vezenkov, 2023 Draft

Appearing on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said that free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins got in touch with him in October to ask why he’s not in the NBA, as Tristi Rodriguez of NBC Sports Bay Area writes.

According to Myers, he explained to Cousins that because of his reputation as a potentially disruptive locker-room presence, the veteran center has to go above and beyond what people expect from him.

“I said, ‘You want that answer? … Because people are afraid of how you’re going to act,'” Myers said. “And he’s like, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well whatever the reason is, it’s here now.’ And I like DeMarcus. … I can’t blame him for him because of all he’s been through.

“… I said, ‘Here’s the issue, you have to act better. To get back, you can’t just be average. You’ve got to convince people.’ And that’s not really fair, but that’s just what it is.”

As Dario Skerletic of Sportando relayed earlier this week, reports out of Taiwain have indicated that Cousins could follow in Dwight Howard‘s footsteps and join a Taiwainese team, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of Howard, the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will miss the next couple weeks for the Taoyuan Leopards due to a knee injury, his Taiwanese club announced (story via Howard, who logged 91 total minutes during a back-to-back set last weekend and averaged 30.5 PPG, 17.0 RPG, and 9.5 APG in the two games, said his body is still adjusting to playing so much.
  • In other international basketball news, Olympiacos forward Sasha Vezenkov won the EuroLeague’s “MVP of the Round” award on Saturday for the fourth time in 10 weeks so far this season, per a press release. Vezenkov, whose NBA rights were acquired by the Kings this past summer, is one of five draft-and-stash players we highlighted on Friday as candidates to eventually make an impact in the NBA. He ranks second in the EuroLeague with 20.1 points per game.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic prefaces his list of top 100 prospects by observing that the 2023 NBA draft looks “wide open” outside of the top 10, with a ton of first-round slots potentially up for grabs depending on which players have strong seasons. Vecenie adds that several of this year’s highest-rated freshman have been slowed by injuries or have underperformed in the early going, making the class more difficult to evaluate.

DeMarcus Cousins: “I Have A Lot Left In The Tank”

With opening night less than two weeks away, four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins remains unsigned. However, Cousins continues to seek a new NBA home, telling Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be “prepared” if and when he gets his next opportunity and that he’s hoping to dispel the notion he’s a negative influence in a locker room.

“I think the misperception of me is that I’m this angry monster that just goes around bullying people, beating people up, uncoachable, and a cancer in the locker room,” Cousins said. “I think it’s all false. I played for coach (John) Calipari, a legendary coach. I was more than coachable. Steve Kerr would attest to that and Coach (Michael) Malone.

“Obviously, you can always go back to my time in Sacramento. I was a young kid. I was still figuring this business out. I was ignorant to a lot of things. I handled a lot of things the incorrect way, but I’ve also learned from those mistakes. … To hold my time in Sac over my head, I think that’s unfair. I believe we all should have a chance to grow and change and actually have that change be embraced. I just want a fair shot.”

Cousins hasn’t played more than 48 games in a season since 2016/17 due to a series of injuries and an inability to stick with one team (he has played for six clubs during that time). Still, he has shown in limited minutes that he’s still a talented scorer and rebounder, having averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 48 appearances (15.0 MPG) last season for the Nuggets and Bucks. The 32-year-old believes he still has plenty to contribute to an NBA team.

“It would mean everything in the world to me to be back in the NBA,” Cousins told Haynes. “I know I belong in this league. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and earned my stripes. I’ve hit some bumps in the road with injuries and I’ve always worked my way back to be 100 percent healthy. I’ve worked my tail off to get back to this point. I just want the opportunity to show the work I’ve put in and continue to put in. I also just want an opportunity to also earn my keep and that’s all I really want.

“I have a lot left in the tank. A whole lot. I feel like I’ve actually become an even better player, just sharpening all my skills. I’ve had nothing but time in the gym. I’ve gotten better in all aspects of my game.”

Cousins’ 15 minutes per game last season represented his lowest average since he entered the NBA in 2010. However, he wouldn’t necessarily be pushing for a larger role with his next team, telling Haynes that he recognizes he’s no longer “the franchise player I was when I was younger” and has accepted that.

“Whatever role is given to me, I will do it willingly and to the best of my ability,” Cousins said. “Obviously, me being a competitor, I always want to reach for the stars, but I’m going to do what’s asked of me. And if it’s me starting, if it’s me coming off the bench, or if it’s me having to be at the end of the bench cheering the next guy on, I’ll do it. Whatever it takes. I’m willing to do whatever is needed to win.”

Community Shootaround: Top Remaining Free Agents

As the NBA offseason nears its end, several players who ended last season under contract with a team remain available in free agency. Training camps are set to open across the league later this month, so time is running out for those players ahead of the regular season.

Teams are also still rounding out their training camp rosters by signing players to Exhibit 10, two-way and non-guaranteed deals. As shown by our current list of free agents, Dennis Schröder, Isaiah Thomas, Jeremy Lamb, Lou Williams, Lance Stephenson, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard are among the veterans still available.

Of course, many of those players are likely nearing the end of their careers, including Williams (36 next month), Anthony (38) and Howard (36). Iguodala, 38, still hasn’t decided whether he’ll be playing or retiring. The Warriors likely value his leadership and experience more than his production at this point in his career.

The rest of those players are all 33 years old or younger, but several young players are also available. Schröder has a case to be the best option, averaging 13.5 points in 28.7 minutes per game with Boston and Houston last season. Plenty of the others hold All-Star experience.

We want to know what you think. Among the remaining free agents, who do you think is the most valuable one? Who could help a specific team this season, even if they wind up signing later in the year? Which players on our current list of free agents interest you the most? Take to the comments section below and voice your opinions!

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, Free Agents, Brogdon, G. Williams

The Celtics are expected to apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Danilo Gallinari‘s ACL tear, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A report Friday indicates that Gallinari hasn’t given up hope of playing toward the end of the upcoming season, but it appears to be a long shot given his age and the severity of the injury.

If the request is approved, Boston’s DPE would be about $3.2MM, which is half of Gallinari’s salary for 2022/23. The team would be able use that amount to sign a free agent, claim a player off waivers or acquire a player through trade, though Himmelsbach views that last option as unlikely because the Celtics already have two trade exceptions that are worth more.

Boston signed Gallinari in July to provide veteran help off the bench and another three-point shooting threat. His contract includes a $6.8MM player option for next season that he seems almost certain to exercise in light of the injury.

There’s more from Boston:

  • With Gallinari likely unavailable for the entire season, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe looks at some options that are still available on the free agent market. He points to Carmelo Anthony, who might welcome the chance to end his career on a title contender, along with DeMarcus Cousins, Jeremy Lamb, Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Washburn notes that Kevin Durant‘s trade demand worked to the Celtics’ advantage because it froze the free agent market for several weeks, leaving a wealth of veteran players available in September.
  • Malcolm Brogdon may used as the primary backup wing to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in July, has the size to handle the role at 6’5″ and is probably the team’s best defensive option at that position. Robb notes that it would also provide more backcourt minutes for Derrick White and Payton Pritchard.
  • Grant Williams will likely ask for a starting salary in the mid-teens in his extension negotiations, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb doesn’t believe president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will meet that price, even though Williams becomes more important with Gallinari sidelined.