You had to expect that the first guys to go hauling across the pond would be those who traversed the body of water in the first place. In short, Europeans are flocking back to their respective homelands in the face of the lockout and a seemingly unavoidable loss of games. Take Nicolas Batum, for example. From BasketSession.com, translation provided by Blazers Edge:
According to a source familiar with the matter, Nicolas Batum signed with SLUC Nancy. The winger Portland Trail Blazers and the team will begin the season in France Pro A and the Euroleague with Nancy in the case quite likely that the lockout blocks the start of the NBA season.
We knew very advanced contacts between the two parties, but nothing was sure yet.
via Blazer’s Edge – For Portland Trail Blazers Fans.
Batum is a pretty significant building block for the Blazers, as they’ve turned down a half-dozen trade offers for him in the past year. That has to make Blazers management (and by extension Paul Allen) a little nervous. Meanwhile, Batum gets to go on a working vacation at home. That’s a pretty fantastic setup.
Everyone keeps talking about how none of these players is going to Europe. And contracts keep getting signed. At some point this is going to be more of an issue than just a hypothetical, and the owners will be gulping down the idea of a player suffering a significant injury when he’s not earning them money. That has to cause at least a flinch.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.