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Baseline to Baseline recaps: Dwyane Wade struggles while Darko is hot… huh?

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What you missed while researching how to deep fry a turkey

Magic 104, Heat 95: How this game would end was played out in the opening six minutes — Jameer Nelson was driving straight into the heart of the Heat defense. He would come off the screen and get great penetration.

This looked a lot like the Magic of a couple years ago, with a very aggressive Nelson looking for his shot. He was also looking for Brandon Bass, who was playing pick-and-pop with Nelson and hit 8-11 in the first half, and the Magic was up 8. The Heat got back into it by getting offensive rebounds in the third quarter, cutting that lead to three after three. The benches kept it close.

But when LeBron returned into the game late the Heat went cold (1-10) while Nelson just went into the teeth of the defense. Nelson had 17 points 14 assists, Dwight Howard with 24 points 18 boards.

Dwyane Wade didn’t look right (6-21 shooting) but as a whole the Heat played a lot better at both ends than they did against the Pacers. But the Magic are good, you have to earn a win over them. The Heat did not.

Mavericks 111, Thunder 103: You know when Tyson Chandler scores 17 things are going right for you. Dallas turned the ball over a lot early, but settled down when it mattered. Dallas also had 13 more points at the line.

Knicks 99, Bobcats 95: Five in a row! Five in a row! You can’t stop the New York Knicks… well, not if you’re the Bobcats, anyway as the Knicks take both ends of a home and home. In the second half the Knicks went to a lot of zone and the Bobcats were all too happy to settle for a lot of jumpers. Raymond Felton had 23 points and 13 boards and looked like a guy who knows how to run the D’Antoni offense.

Cavaliers 83, Bucks 81: The Bucks scored just 13 in the fourth quarter which allowed the Cavaliers to have a shot to win it. With 5.3 seconds left and the game tied Mo Williams got the ball out high, waved off the Anderson Varejao high screen and drove left then put up the 20-foot step back over Brandon Jennings. And when you’re feeling it, that shot falls.

Raptors 106, Sixers 90: Toronto did pretty much whatever they wanted on offense in the first half shooting 57.1 percent and going 5 of 8 from three, plus getting the line more and getting more offensive rebounds. That is why they were up 62-43. It was over then but they played the second have because decorum demands it.

Celtics 89, Nets 83: No Rajon Rondo tonight and you combine that with the Celtics just missing good looks and it was a slow start to this one. The Nets started slow too against the Celtics defense, built a lead, lost it, then when things got close in the end — say tied at 71-71— there seemed a lot of Paul Pierce driving and kicking to a wide open Ray Allen in the corner (how does that happen, have people not seen Ray Allen shoot?). Also, 25 and 11 for Shaq.

Grizzlies 105, Pistons 85: Rookie Xavier Henry got the start for Memphis and OJ Mayo came off the bench, with the goal of adding more scoring off the bench, according to Lionel Hollins. It worked as the Pistons wore down, but the second night of a back-to-back has not been good for Detroit. Rodney Stuckey had 13 in the first quarter and kept it close but a 33-18 third blew it open for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph had 21 and 14.

Spurs 113, Timberwolves 109 (OT): I’m not climbing aboard any bandwagons yet, but Darko Milicic had another good game (22 points 8 boards and 5 blocks).

Minnesota owned the first quarter, getting to the loose balls, shooting 51 percent and Love setting the tone wit 13 points and 7 board s in 15 minutes. The Wolves were up 15 after on…. And nobody thought it would last.

This ended up being close and pretty entertaining, if not actually pretty. It was close at the end, but the Spurs executed with the game on the line and got big plays from Ginobili, while the Timberwolves had sets break down and ended up with isolation Luke Ridnour. Not good.

Rockets 111, Warriors 101: Houston shot 51 free throws, 33 more than Golden State. There’s your ballgame.

Bulls 123, Suns 115 (2 OT): Chicago came out flat after battling the Lakers hard last night, and they got blitzed 36-17 in the first quarter.  After that the Bulls tightened up their defense and fought back. Second night of a back-to-back in double overtime against a team that wants to run — that is showing some heart to pull this one out.

Jazz: 105, Hornets 87: This was a physical game — the referees were surprisingly okay with that — which is right in the Jazz wheelhouse. Deron Williams finished with 26 points and 11 assists, and he continues to outplay Chris Paul head-to-head.

Stephen Curry tries to pass off backboard to himself (VIDEO)

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NEW ORLEANS — LeBron James can do it.

Stephen Curry? Not so much.

The Golden State Warriors PG tried to pull the Trady McGrady in Sunday’s All-Star Game but found himself coming up just a little short.

Before trade, DeMarcus Cousins’ agent said client unlikely to re-sign with new team

Western Conference forward DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings (15) plays during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. The New Orleans Pelicans agreed to acquire Cousins from the Kings on Sunday, the same night the center was playing in the All-Star Game in their arena. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
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DeMarcus Cousins signing a five-year, $209 million contract extension?

That’s out the window with his trade from the Kings to the Pelicans rendering him ineligible to become a designated veteran player.

Which could explain why Cousins’ agent, Jarrinn Akana, was making noise about not re-signing with another team. Dissuading potential suitors and staying in Sacramento was Cousins’ only path to the biggest payday.

Here’s Akana, before the trade was set, via Marc Stein of ESPN:

A straight contract extension next summer makes no sense. The most that could pay Cousins is $92,559,167 over four years ($23,139,792 annually).

If he simply lets his contract expire and re-signs in 2018, a new deal projects to be worth about $179 million (about $36 million annually).

The Pelicans can try for a renegotiation-and-extension, but they would need cap room to raise his 2017-18 salary from $18,063,850 toward his projected max of about $31 million. With significant money due to Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Omer AsikE'Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, Quincy PondexterDante CunninghamTim FrazierCheick Diallo and, they hope, a re-signed Jrue Holiday, it’s unlikely the Pelicans clear enough room to renegotiate Cousins’ deal.

Cousins is probably headed toward unrestricted free agency in 2018. Then, New Orleans projects to be able to offer about $179 million (about $36 million annually) to another team’s projected max of about $133 million (about $33 million annually).

It’s an advantage, but not a bulletproof one. I think Cousins will be more amenable to re-signing than his agent indicated now that a trade is actually happening, but he could still walk.

This is the risk the Pelicans took.

 

 

Why did Kings get so little for Cousins? Lakers not willing to part with Ingram sign of soft market

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Vlade Divac of Serbia watches during the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Back in 2015 there was already a push from people inside the Sacramento Kings organization to move on from the DeMarcus Cousins era. There were groundwork talks with a number of teams, but a lot of rumors circulated around the Lakers, where Jim Buss was trying to land a star for his franchise that would lead to a quick turnaround. While the deal was never finalized, reports had the Lakers offering both their first round picks that year, which became D'Angelo Russell (No. 2) and Larry Nance Jr. (27th), plus a few other pieces.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive shot the deal down then — as he did with every deal until Sunday night.

By the tine Ranadive came around to the idea of trading Cousins, the market had changed. And dried up. All the Kings landed was last draft’s No. 6 pick Buddy Hield (who Vlade Divac has been higher on than most), the Pelicans pick this draft in the mid-teens, a high second round pick, and some pieces such as Tyreke Evans that are not part of the Kings’ future.

The deal has been widely panned for the Kings, but what they got may well have been the best offer available right now. A lot of teams have concerns about Cousins’ impact on their locker rooms — teams that liked their rosters didn’t want to add drama. Plenty of teams would not talk trade. Also, there is a glut of bigs on the market right now. If teams wanted to give up multiple first-round picks for a center, they could have already because Nets have Brook Lopez on the block — not as talented, but also not a challenge in the locker room. Jahlil Okafor, Tyson Chandler and other centers also are available.

The Kings went back to the Lakers, but when they asked for the young guy the Lakers are highest on, Brandon Ingram, it fell apart, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report added this interesting tidbit about the Kings and Lakers talks in recent days.

Then Buss, in particular, was sorely tempted to shift course yet again Sunday, break from those plans and trade whatever youth it took in the hopes of landing DeMarcus Cousins, according to a team source.

It wasn’t just the Lakers who would not go in big on Cousins.

Calls to Boston found even worse offers, with Danny Ainge worried about Cousins’ impact in the locker room and if they could/would want to retain him. The Booklyn picks were never close to on the table.

Philly is no longer really interested thanks to Joel Embiid (even with the health concerns there).

There were talks with the Suns, but Sacramento didn’t like Brandon Knight as the best player they would get back.

And so it goes down the list, teams were hesitant to give up much and the Kings were left to take the best of bad options. Part of the reason for the Cousins market being dry is that since he is traded, Cousins is no longer eligible for the “designated player” supermax deal, and the difference between what the team that has his Bird rights in 2018 can offer and what other teams can offer is not that great. Which is to say, a lot of teams think they can take a swing at Cousins as a free agent in two summers if they really want him, and they don’t have to give up assets to get him.

The Pelicans were never going to get a seat at the table in those free agent conversations, so trading for him makes a lot of sense for New Orleans.

But for most teams, they were willing to pass. Which left the Kings without good options for a deadline trade.

Of course, what a more stable organization might have done is decide the offers were terrible and hold off on a trade until around the draft or into summer free agency. The deals are not going to get worse, and they might well get a little better. But for whatever reason — concern that Ranadive would change his mind, again? — the Kings moved now.

And that leaves them in a tough spot.

 

Report: Kings expected to waive Matt Barnes to facilitate DeMarcus Cousins trade

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28:  Matt Barnes #22 of the Sacramento Kings looks on against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to change their culture.

So, Sacramento is also unsurprisingly dumping the player who allegedly partnered with Cousins nightclub fight: Matt Barnes.

 

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Beyond fitting the Kings’ new vision, the move is necessary, because they have a full roster and are acquiring more players (Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway) than they’re sending out (Cousins and Omri Casspi) in the Pelicans trade.

Barnes, who turns 37 in a couple weeks, is slipping. But he could still add experienced depth to a contender as a 3-and-D wing. (Hello, Cavaliers?)

A hard-nosed player, he’s a great teammate in many ways. And the veterans who comprise contenders would be less likely to be influenced by the ways he’s not — which wasn’t the case in Sacramento.