NBA Draft: Kings reportedly sold on taking DeMarcus Cousins with the No. 5 pick

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DeMarcus Cousins may not be the most agreeable player in the draft, but he has to be among the most talented. Cousins’ combination of size, skills, and potential has many scouts swooning, yet it seems like teams in the lottery are looking for reasons not to take him. Obviously no coach or GM wants to give themselves a perpetual headache if there are other options available (and the general appreciation of Derrick Favors’ game gives decision-makers the way out they so desperately crave), even if Cousins turns out to be a hell of a player.

That has to stop somewhere, as one lucky lottery team was going to watch Cousins fall into their lap. That team is apparently the Sacramento Kings; Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Kings will take Cousins with the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, ending his mini-slide and leaving the Warriors and Pistons in the cold.

DeMarcus isn’t coming into the league as a professional per se, but he’s still a hell of a prospect. Statistically speaking, his ability to do serious damage in limited minutes should have NBA fans salivating. He averaged 25.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per 40 minutes in his freshman season at Kentucky, and that level of elite production will be handed over to an NBA team ready to utilize his 6’10” frame.

Character matters, and there are many aspects of Cousins’ personality that would qualify as turn-offs. The same is true of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. I don’t mean to inflate expectation by dropping Cousins’ name in with those two, but they stand as proof that flawed people can still be incredible players. DeMarcus is admittedly of a different breed, but as long as he’s producing on the court and not making too much of a mess off of it, he’s worth the trouble. 

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.