DeMarcus Cousins suspended (even if that’s not the word they use) by Kings

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DeMarcus Cousins has literally been everything people said about him prior to the draft. He’s been a hothead. He’s been a star. He’s been a beast. He’s been a huge pain in the neck. He’s been brilliant. He’s been a bonehead. The works. Tonight the pendulum has swung to bonehead, and the repercussions for Cousins’ career again seem violent.

Sam Amick of FanHouse reports via Twitter that Cousins was involved in a “confrontation” with Donte Greené after the Kings’ nail-biter loss to the Thunder. The two reportedly had to be separated. Cousins was voicing his displeasure with Tyreke Evans’ recent decision-making in key situations, and generally doing what he’s done all season: mouthing off. As a result, the Kings actually told him to get off the team plane headed for a Phoenix road game and have suspended him for at least three games.

Except the Kings say they are reviewing the situation and refused to use the word suspended in talking about the situation. Why? They don’t want the union to get involved. So they are dancing around the word suspended, saying this was the action they took for a game. Where I grew up, if you re the team’s best player and they tell you not to come to a road game due to behavior, that’s a suspension.

Well, then.

Cousins has clashed with the coaching staff all seasons, receiving multiple fines for his behavior. Teammates have reportedly been agitated since his arrival at his constant talking and the presumption that he’s a star despite not having earned anything. All this is doable since the Kings are terrible and they’re not building around those other players. But not meshing with Tyreke Evans? That’s a problem. That’s a Rookie of the Year winner and face of the franchise. The Kings need for those two to co-exist and if they’re not, something’s got to give. You can’t build a foundation on a rotten core. Whether that means moving Cousins or Evans is up to Geoff Petrie, but there has to be a resolution to this.

Cousins isn’t an off-the-court problem, he’s just fiery, young, and really immature. Whenever I think about his attitude I try and remember how dumb I was at 20. With stuff like fighting with teammates, however, you have to wonder if the problems aren’t severe enough to cause Sacramento to question whether he’s worth the trouble.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

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.