Cousins calls USA Select Team experience “political”

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DeMarcus Cousins had a bumpy time as a member of the USA Select Team this summer, playing against the London Olympians during training camp.

He got called out publicly by USA basketball president Jerry Colangelo for being too physical in scrimmages against the stars. I’ll add that I was in Vegas and Colangelo wasn’t the only one saying it. Kobe Bryant said that when Cousins keeps his head down and focuses on his game he is fine but when he lets his emotions get the best of him things go wrong.

Cousins wasn’t keeping his head down in an interview with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated. Cousins was the full, unfiltered Cousins through the entire interview, including when Amick asked him if he enjoyed his time with Team USA.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” he said of the experience. “I went out there, and … I’m not going to say I didn’t learn anything from it, because I did. But it was just, in my mind, another political battle. I learned more about politics. I saw the work ethic of the so-called elite in the league, and I took some notes from that and took that back with me. But as far as the rest of it? No.

“Honestly, the scrimmages were one-sided the whole time. To even have a chance, you had to play hard as hell. We were out there getting our heads knocked off, and if they’re going to play physical, then I’m going to play physical back. I’m not out there trying to start fights — just trying to stand on my own. But I guess the ignorance of people is they take it as being immature.”

Of course the scrimmages were one-sided, did you see the Team USA lineup? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul and you bring guys like Carmelo Anthony off the bench? The Select Team isn’t going to win those games, but they are going to put up the best fight the Olympians were going to face until the Spain game. But these are still your teammates, so you play within certain bounds of convention — nobody wants to see anybody hurt.

Anthony Davis ended up being put on the Olympic team, Cousins was not.

Cousins couldn’t adjust. His emotions got the best of him.

We’ll see how much he learned from that as we move ahead into the new season where he will be the heart of the Kings.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.