Sacramento Kings

Notes, Reactions, Details On DeMarcus Cousins Deal

The designated veteran extension in the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement was intended to make it easier for teams to keep their superstar players, but as Nate Duncan tweets, the Kings‘ decision to trade DeMarcus Cousins exposes an unintended consequence of the new super-max deal. If a team is unsure about whether or not it wants to make that massive commitment to its star player – and feels it “has to” make that commitment if it keeps him – it could lead to a trade, as it did with the Kings and Cousins.

For most of this season, the Kings seemed prepared to offer Cousins that massive designated veteran extension this summer, but owner Vivek Ranadive began to have doubts in recent weeks, per Chris Mannix of The Vertical. According to both Mannix and Sam Amick of USA Today, Cousins’ recent one-game suspension, along with the Kings’ win over Boston in the game he missed, played a part in the team’s decision to move him.

According to Mannix, that win over the Celtics without their star center in the lineup had some members of the Kings’ organization “dreaming of what a free-flowing, post-Cousins offense could look like.” Now the team will get a chance to see what its offense looks like without Cousins on a full-time basis.

Here’s more on the NBA’s latest blockbuster deal:

  • One executive tells Mannix that his team would have taken Cousins only if the Kings were “giving him away.” A GM who spoke to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com was even more bearish on Cousins, suggesting that “New Orleans was desperate” and “Sacramento is free” of the mercurial big man. Still, as Goodman notes, multiple league executives were still surprised at how little the Kings got for their star center.
  • Given the underwhelming nature of the trade package the Kings received, Kristian Winfield of SBNation.com wonders where the other offers for Cousins were. According to Mannix, a handful of teams, including the Magic and Celtics, expressed “nominal interest” in Cousins, though Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald tweets that Boston wasn’t one of the clubs actively engaged with Sacramento on Sunday.
  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com answers a few key questions about the Cousins blockbuster, noting that the 26-year-old is now eligible for approximately $30MM on a maximum salary extension. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projections for 2018/19, a designated veteran extension for Cousins with the Kings would’ve been worth about $209MM, while a five-year max contract with the Pelicans will be worth approximately $179MM.
  • Elsewhere at ESPN.com (Insider link), Kevin Pelton assigns the Pelicans a grade of A-minus for the deal, while the Kings get a D.
  • The Cousins deal has a significant impact on the Sixers, Derek Bodner writes at DerekBodner.com. In addition to holding swap rights on the Kings‘ 2017 first-round pick and holding the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder outright, the Sixers also now have one fewer suitor for Jahlil Okafor. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported late last night (via Twitter) that the Pelicans offered Tyreke Evans, their 2017 first-round pick, and another draft pick for Okafor earlier this month, though Ramona Shelburne of ESPN notes (via Twitter) that New Orleans asked for top-20 protection on the 2017 pick.

Kings Target More Young Players, Picks At Deadline

Having agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the Kings likely aren’t done dealing, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical. According to Mannix, Sacramento will be targeting additional draft picks and players on rookie contracts before Thursday’s trade deadline, with players like Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, and Arron Afflalo available.

The Cousins trade agreement signaled that a full-fledged rebuild is underway in Sacramento, so it makes sense that players like Collison, McLemore, and Afflalo would be expendable — all three could become free agents this summer. Collison, in particular, is ticketed for unrestricted free agency and should draw some interest from teams in need of point guard help. His salary ($5.229MM) is modest, and his numbers this season (13.7 PPG, 4.2 APG, .421 3PT%) have been solid. Per Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (via Twitter), executives around the league believe Collison will “definitely” be traded.

Afflalo and McLemore were said to be available a month ago, so little has changed on that front. Reports last fall suggested that Sacramento’s new coaching staff had connected with McLemore and were excited to see how he performed this season, but his playing time has been inconsistent and he hasn’t taken a real step forward in 2016/17. The former seventh overall pick, who is averaging a career-low 18.1 MPG, is eligible for restricted free agency in July.

As for Afflalo, he hasn’t exactly thrived in Sacramento this season, averaging just 7.8 PPG and shooting 42.9% in part-time action for the Kings. While those marks are well below his career averages, Afflalo has been as effective as ever from three-point range (39.0%), and his contract is manageable — he’s making $12.5MM annually this year and next year, but next season’s salary is only guaranteed for $1.5MM, so his deal could be viewed as an expiring contract of sorts.

If Sacramento goes into fire sale mode, other vets like Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes, and Tyreke Evans could also be available, though that’s just my speculation.

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.

Kings, Pelicans Discuss Cousins-Hield Swap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Read more

DeMarcus Cousins Wants To Sign Extension

DeMarcus Cousins plans to sign an extension with the Kings this summer, he said on an interview with ESPN’s SportsCenter that was relayed by the network’s Ramona Shelburne. Cousins indicates he’s happy in Sacramento and would like to spend his entire career there, Shelburne continues.

Cousins will be eligible in July to sign a five-year extension worth well over $200MM. He’s making $16,957,900 this season and $18,063,850 next season in the final year of his current deal.

A report surfaced last month that Kings management would try to lock up Cousins when the new designated player extension becomes available after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement goes into effect in July. With Cousins now on board to sign that extension, the possibility of the big man getting traded before this month’s deadline seems even more remote.

Cousins has in the past been critical of Kings management but appears to believe they will make the necessary moves to turn the franchise into a contender. GM Vlade Divac has taken steps recently to convince Cousins that he wants him to remain the franchise player for years to come.

Cousins is optimistic about the team’s playoff chances despite the season-ending injury to second-leading scorer Rudy Gay last month.

“I think we’re on the right path this season,” Cousins said. “We’re playing the best basketball of the season so far. Our team is extremely confident.”

He’s averaging 27.8 PPG and 4.8 APG — both career highs — along with 10.6 rebounds this season.

Kings Rookie Malachi Richardson Out 4-6 Weeks

Kings rookie shooting guard Malachi Richardson will miss approximately 4-6 weeks with a partial thickness tear of his right hamstring, according to team press release.

The injury, which Richardson suffered late in the fourth quarter against the Warriors on Wednesday, was diagnosed after an MRI was performed on Thursday.

The No. 22 overall pick in last June’s draft was selected by the Hornets, then shipped to the Kings in exchange for veteran guard Marco Belinelli.

This is yet another injury-related setback for the Kings, who lost second-leading scorer Rudy Gay to a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture last month. Richardson’s playing time had perked up since Gay’s injury, as he appeared in the last 16 games. He played a season-high 27 minutes against Golden State, posting 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists. He scored a season-high 12 points in 14 minutes against the Cavaliers on January 25th.

Overall, Richard is averaging 3.6 PPG and 1.0 RPG in 10.6 minutes over 22 games.

This leaves the Kings even thinner at the wing positions. Garrett Temple has been sidelined this month with a partially-torn hamstring. Sacramento will have to lean more heavily on Arron Afflalo, Ben McLemore, Matt Barnes and perhaps Omri Casspi in the interim, though Casspi has been hampered by a calf injury.

The wave of injuries could force the club to make a depth-related move before the trade deadline. The Kings entered Thursday 1 1/2 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Western Notes: Kings, Tolliver, Kanter, Trade Deadline

The Kings are in position to be players at the trade deadline, but first they must decide which direction they want to pursue, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea. Sacramento entered tonight just a game and a half out of a playoff spot, but a 24-32 record suggests a lot of improvement is still needed. The Kings can’t offer a draft pick before 2021, but they have several expiring contracts to deal, including Ty Lawson, Darren Collison and Omri Casspi. Kosta Koufos has been the subject of trade rumors, and Olympics star Bogdan Bogdanovic, currently playing in Turkey, could be a valuable trade chip.

There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:

  • Veteran forward Anthony Tolliver is hoping his stay in Sacramento won’t get cut short, relays Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. A rash of injuries has created more playing time for the 31-year-old, and he has responded by shooting a career-best 45% from the field and 40% from 3-point range. Tolliver signed a two-year, $16MM deal over the summer, but only $2MM of his $8MM salary for next season is guaranteed before June 1st. That might make him attractive on the trade market for a team looking to cut salary, or the Kings could decide to save money by not bringing him back next season.
  • Thunder backup center Enes Kanter had the cast removed from his fractured right forearm, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Kanter had surgery January 27th and is scheduled to be re-evaluated February 24th. His recovery time was originally projected at four to eight weeks. Kanter says he knows when he should be able to play again, but doesn’t want to release it publicly, fearing it might put pressure on him or the organization to hit the target date.
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical examines trade possibilities for the Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder as next week’s deadline approaches. All three teams have dealt with major injuries this season.

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.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: