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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.

NBA D-League Recalls/Assignments: 2/17/17

Here is today’s lone D-League assignment:

  • The Warriors assigned Briante Weber to their D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced via press release. As Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News explained, the move will allow Weber to participate in this year’s D-League All-Star game. Currently on his second 10-day contract, Weber has scored eight points over five games in Golden State. His D-League production has come with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he averaged 16.5 points on 45.5% shooting.

NBA D-League Recalls/Assignments: 2/16/17

  • The Heat assigned power forward Okaro White and small forward Marcus Georges-Hunt to Sioux Falls, Chris Reichert of The Step Back tweets.  This  will make both eligible for the D-League All-Star game, Reichert adds. White has appeared in 14 games with the Heat, averaging 4.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG while impressing enough during 10-day contracts to earn a two-year deal. Georges-Hunt signed a 10-day contract on February 8th after spending most of the season with the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, where he averaged 16.4 PPG.

Jeff Ayres Bolts D-League, Heads To Japan

Ex-NBA big man Jeff Ayres has signed with Toyota Alvark in the Japanese League, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Ayres, 29, had been playing for the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, the D-Fenders. He has left that team to pursue overseas opportunities, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Ayres appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 12.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG.

He had another overseas journey last year, signing with CSKA Moscow, but the Russian team decided not keep him. Ayres changed agents — hiring BDA Sports — after that experience and then hooked on with the D-League in December.

The fact that Ayres opted to go overseas in the midst of the D-League season was an apparent concession that he wasn’t getting any NBA nibbles, despite his respectable stats.

Ayres, formerly known as Jeff Pendergraph, was part of the Spurs’ 2014 championship team, but wasn’t re-signed after the 2014/15 season. He was the first player selected in the 2015 D-League draft and spent much of the season in Idaho before joining the Clippers last January.

After playing on two 10-day contracts, Ayres signed with the Clippers for the remainder of the 2015/16 season. He appeared in 17 games for L.A., averaging 1.8 PPG and 1.3 RPG in limited playing time. Ayres has also played for the Trail Blazers and Pacers over the course of his NBA career.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/15/17

After a quiet Tuesday in terms of D-League moves, we have a few assignments and recalls to pass along for Wednesday. Here’s the latest:

10:15pm:

  • The Raptors have recalled Bruno Caboclo from Raptors 905, the team announced in a tweet. The third-year forward has played just eight NBA games this season.
  • The Grizzlies have recalled guard Wade Baldwin, center Deyonta Davis and forward Jarell Martin from their affiliate in Iowa.
  • The Heat are sending Okaro White to their Sioux Falls affiliate so he will be eligible for the D-League All-Star Game, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

1:31pm:

  • The Pelicans have recalled rookie forward Cheick Diallo from the D-League, the team announced today in a press release. Diallo had been playing for Charlotte’s D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, since New Orleans doesn’t have an affiliate of its own. He averaged 17. 0 PPG and 11.3 RPG in six games with the Swarm.
  • Rookies Chinanu Onuaku and Kyle Wiltjer have been recalled from the D-League by the Rockets, according to the team (Twitter link). The duo helped lead the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to a dramatic win on Tuesday, totaling 55 points and 16 rebounds between them.
  • The Pacers have recalled Rakeem Christmas from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced today in a press release. The D-League’s All-Star break is now underway, which is why Christmas and others are being recalled to their NBA teams today.

Magic Trade Serge Ibaka To Raptors

4:50pm: The Magic and Raptors have each confirmed the trade as reported, making it official (Twitter links).

10:13am: The Magic and Raptors have agreed to a trade that will send Serge Ibaka to Toronto, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, the Magic will receive Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick in the swap.SergeIbaka vertical

The Raptors hold a pair of first-round picks for 2017, having acquired the Clippers’ lottery-protected first-rounder in addition to their own. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Orlando will get the less favorable of those two selections. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, the Raptors’ pick currently projects to land at No. 20 or 21, while the Clippers’ pick would be No. 25, though the standings remain tight.

For the Magic, it’s essentially an admission that last summer’s Ibaka trade was a misstep. At the time, Orlando parted with a package of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and a lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) for the Oklahoma City big man. Ibaka’s value has declined a little as his contract nears its end, but a package of Ross and a late first-rounder still pales in comparison to what the Magic initially gave up for the 27-year-old.

[RELATED: Magic GM Acknowledges Criticism Is ‘Warranted’]

Still, last summer’s trade was a sunk cost for GM Rob Hennigan, who had vowed to be “aggressive” in pursuing trades this month. Reports had indicated Ibaka was unlikely to re-sign with Orlando this offseason, so the Magic were at least able to add a pair of assets that will help the team beyond 2016/17. Ross is under contract at a rate of $10.5MM annually for two years beyond this season, while the player drafted with Orlando’s newly-acquired 2017 first-rounder will be under team control through at least 2020/21. Hennigan will likely continue to be active on the trade market leading up to next Thursday’s deadline.

The Magic are also able to create a modest trade exception worth $2.25MM in the deal. That’s the difference between the 2016/17 salaries for Ibaka ($12.25MM) and Ross ($10MM). That trade exception will expire one year from now.

From the Raptors’ perspective, the deal will give them the stretch four they have long coveted. Although the team has been linked to several other power forwards – including Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari, and Taj Gibson – Ibaka’s name has perhaps been the one most frequently connected to Toronto in trade rumors. The Raps reportedly tried to acquire Ibaka during the 2016 draft, offering up their own lottery pick in a package, but were unable to match the Magic’s offer at the time.

Although Ibaka will be a free agent this summer, the Raptors now hold his Bird rights and have every intention of trying to re-sign him, tweets Wojnarowski. With Ibaka and Kyle Lowry both in line for lucrative new long-term deals in free agency in July, it will be interesting to see if Toronto moves another contract or two off its books in order to avoid going deep into luxury tax territory. It’s also worth noting that Ibaka and Lowry share an agent in ASM’s Andy Miller.

In the shorter term, Ibaka will join a Raptors frontcourt that features Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, and Lucas Nogueira, while Norman Powell will be the top candidate to assume a good chunk of Ross’ minutes. In addition to providing some of the rim protection and rebounding that the team lost when Bismack Biyombo departed in free agency, Ibaka will also give Toronto an outside threat on offense.

Although he didn’t shoot much from beyond the arc earlier in his career, Ibaka has developed into a reliable option from outside, making a career-high 38.8% of his long-distance attempts this season. He’s also averaging a career-high 15.1 PPG to go along with 6.8 RPG and 1.6 BPG.

The timing of the move is good for the Raptors, who have been slumping so far in 2017. After posting a losing record in January, the team is just 2-4 so far in February, and will look to regain ground on the Cavaliers, as well as the surging Celtics and Wizards.

Before the Magic and Raptors struck a deal, Ibaka was believed to be drawing interest from the Heat, among other teams. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link), other offers for Ibaka were believed to be “shockingly weak,” with the big man’s impending free agency limiting his trade value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Re-Sign Briante Weber

FEBRUARY 14: The Warriors have officially signed Weber to a second 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release.

FEBRUARY 13: The Warriors intend to re-sign Briante Weber to a second 10-day contract when his first deal with the team expires, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). Weber, who signed on February 4, is currently on the 10th day of his current contract, so he’ll be eligible to re-sign with Golden State on Tuesday.

Weber, 24, received a substantial guarantee ($328K) from the Heat, but didn’t make Miami’s regular season roster in the fall, landing instead with the club’s D-League affiliate. Weber made a strong case for a call-up during his time in the NBADL, averaging 16.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, and 3.0 SPG in 29 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He was recently named the D-League’s Player of the Month for January, and drew interest from multiple NBA teams before deciding to join the Warriors.

So far, Weber has appeared briefly in three games for Golden State, logging only about 10 total minutes in those contests. All of Weber’s playing time so far has come near the end of blowout wins, but given the Warriors’ staggering +13.3 point differential, there may be more of those opportunities on tap for Weber during his second 10-day stint with the team.

Assuming Weber officially re-ups with the Warriors on Tuesday, his 10-day contract will run through the All-Star break and would expire on the night of February 23, hours after the trade deadline passes. If the Warriors have the chance to add a player to their roster via trade on deadline day, they could waive Weber a day early to create an opening.

If the Warriors ultimately decide not to retain Weber for the season at the end of his second 10-day deal, he should have no shortage of NBA options. Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that four teams besides Golden State have recently inquired about Weber’s services.

Hornets Sign Mike Tobey To Second 10-Day Deal

1:34pm: After initially keeping their 15th roster spot open to acquire Chris Andersen, the Hornets have officially waived the Birdman, allowing the team to finalize Tobey’s second 10-day contract. The team confirmed the signing this afternoon in a press release.

9:32am: Like Hornets teammate Ray McCallum, rookie center Mike Tobey will sign a second 10-day contract with Charlotte, a league source tells Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While McCallum’s deal is official, Tobey’s new contract has yet to be formally confirmed by the Hornets.

Tobey, a 7’1″ center out of Virginia, averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 15.7 minutes per contest during his senior year in 2015/16. The 22-year-old joined the Hornets for Summer League action in Orlando last year, then inked a training camp deal with Charlotte that featured a $75K guarantee. However, he didn’t earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster, and landed with the Hornets’ D-League affiliate instead.

In 28 games this season with the Greensboro Swarm, Tobey averaged 11.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 25.9 minutes per contest, earning a call-up to Charlotte earlier this month. Although the Hornets re-added Tobey to their roster after trading Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes to Milwaukee, the Virginia alum has yet to make his regular-season NBA debut.

With Tobey and McCallum back under contract, the Hornets will have a full 15-man roster for the next week and a half. Both 10-day deals are set to expire the night before the trade deadline, which will give Charlotte some deadline-day roster flexibility if needed.

Hornets Acquire, Waive Chris Andersen

1:18pm: The Hornets issued a press release confirming their acquisition of Andersen, and announcing that they’ve already waived the injured center.

11:18am: The second-round pick Cleveland gets in the deal is top-55 protected for 2017, a league source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Based on the Hornets’ current record, there’s virtually zero chance of that pick changing hands, as expected.

11:04am: The Cavaliers have opened up a spot on their 15-man roster by making a trade with the Hornets, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Cavs, Cleveland is sending injured big man Chris Andersen and cash to Charlotte in exchange for a protected second-round pick.Chris Andersen vertical

Although the Cavs are receiving a second-round pick in the swap, that selection will likely be a heavily-protected pick that never actually changes hands. Andersen has no value this season, since he’s out for the year with a torn ACL, so Charlotte is doing the Cavs a favor by taking him off their hands. In return, the Hornets will likely get more than enough cash to cover Andersen’s remaining salary, so they’ll come out ahead in the transaction.

While Cleveland will probably never receive that protected second-round pick, the team had been motivated to move Andersen. By sending the Birdman’s contract elsewhere, the Cavs will ensure that they don’t have to pay an extra tax charge for him at season’s end. The club is currently so far into tax territory that every dollar spent results in an extra $2.50 tax charge — that means Andersen’s $980K minimum salary would have cost more than $2.4MM in tax payments. By trading him, the Cavs reduce their tax bill and create an opportunity to add someone new to fill that newly-opened 15th roster spot in the coming days or weeks.

Cleveland had previously sent out $2.75MM in cash in a few separate trades, and teams are limited to $3.5MM in outgoing cash for the 2016/17 league year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavs sent out the rest of their available trade money ($750K) in this deal, though the specifics aren’t yet known. The Cavs will also create a modest trade exception in the swap, worth Andersen’s cap hit ($980,431). It will expire a year from today.

Charlotte, meanwhile, had an open roster spot after Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey saw their 10-day contracts expire overnight. McCallum already re-signed with the team, but Tobey hasn’t formally inked a new deal yet. The Hornets will likely waive Andersen shortly in order to make room to re-sign Tobey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trail Blazers Trade Mason Plumlee For Jusuf Nurkic

FEBRUARY 13: The Nuggets and Blazers have officially completed their trade, according to a press release from Denver. The Nuggets get Plumlee, a 2018 second-round pick, and cash considerations from Portland in exchange for Nurkic and Memphis’ 2017 first-round pick.

FEBRUARY 12: The Trail Blazers will send Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The first-rounder will be the Memphis pick that Denver owns.

The deal gives Portland three first-rounders is what is considered to be a strong draft. In addition to their own pick, the Blazers also own Cleveland’s first-rounder.

The trade also eases the luxury tax predicament for Portland, as Plumlee was set to become a restricted free agent this summer, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link). The team wasn’t able to work out an extension with Plumlee before the October deadline. Portland still has about $130MM in guaranteed contracts for next season (Twitter link).

Plumlee was in the middle of his second season with the Blazers after two years in Brooklyn. He appeared in 54 games, all as a starter, and was averaging 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night.

Nurkic, a third-year big man, began the year as a starter but was moved to the bench after a twin towers approach with Nikola Jokic was deemed a failure. He played in 45 games, starting 29, and was averaging 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Denver exercised his team option for 2017/18 in October.

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