DeMarcus Cousins benched for second half for Kings after argument with coach

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We told you there was plenty of friction in the Kings locker room

DeMarcus Cousins was left in the Kings locker room for the second half of the team’s loss to the Clippers Friday following a halftime argument with coach Keith Smart.

Smart wouldn’t get into specifics after the game, saying Cousins was benched for, “”conduct detrimental to the team and I’ll leave it at that” reports the Sacramento Bee. Smart said he would decide later on any future punishment for Cousins.

The Kings broadcast showed Cousins and Smart arguing on the bench between the first and second quarters. Apparently that spilled over into the locker room at the half.

Cousins apologized after the game, again via the Bee:

“What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room but I was wrong. But what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”

Cousins was then asked what he could do to avoid further situations where attention was on his actions off the court.

“Don’t talk back. That’s the thing. I shouldn’t have responded back. Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet.”

There are a couple of things in play here. As our own Aaron Bruski told you this week, there is friction and frustration in the Kings locker room with Smart and his rotations. And with reason, the guy is fixated on players like Aaron Brooks and doesn’t seem to be developing a team for the future.

But this is still Cousins — a guy who consistently lets his emotions of the moment get in the way of his judgment and game. A guy who holds himself back because he can’t hold himself back sometimes — like when he got suspended for going to argue with a Spurs broadcaster over something said on their broadcast. Cousins clashed with all his coaches in Sacramento now, Smart was the one that seemed to have a better relationship with him. But even that has soured.

When Cousins was part of the USA Select Team, practicing against Team USA headed off to the London Olympics, Kobe Bryant was asked about Cousins (who had a little tiff with Jerry Colangelo, head honcho of USA Basketball):

“All he has to do is continue to work, continue to keep his level head. That’s all he has to do. That’s all he has to do…” Kobe said. “He gets in trouble when he starts letting his emotions get the best of him, now people start talking about that as opposed to his game.”

And we are right back there again.

Michigan’s D.J. Wilson staying in NBA draft

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Michigan bigs D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner declared for the NBA draft in similar situations – coming off breakout seasons, particularly excelling down the stretch, and sitting on the first-round bubble for the NBA draft. Neither hired an agent, leaving their options open.

But this is where their paths diverge.

Michigan releases:

University of Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to remain as an early entrant into the 2017 NBA Draft.

University of Michigan sophomore forward Moritz Wagner announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will return to the Wolverine basketball program after removing his name from consideration for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Wilson and Wagner both said they’d stay in the draft only if they’d be first-round picks. I wonder whether Wilson got a first-round promise or is just confident enough he’ll get picked there. The latter wouldn’t be a bad bet. Even if the 22-year-old Wilson slips into the second round, this might be the peak of his draft value.

At times, it’s easy to forget Wilson is a 6-foot-11 big man. He shoots 3-pointers, dribbles and moves like a wing. He also too often shies from contact, which particularly hurts his rebounding.

But he’s a big. Those perimeter skills wouldn’t shine quite as brightly if he were matched up with opposing wings. Wilson has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and he also protect the rim. However, his shot-blocking relies on a bounciness that’s not as effective when pressed into more physical matchups. He needs some space to launch – but when he has it, it also pays off in quality finishing at the rim.

Wilson has the tools to be a good NBA power forward, but he’s still a work in progress. In other words, he still looks like a borderline first-round pick.

Tyronn Lue imitates LeBron James’ criticism of reporter (video)

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After the Cavaliers Game 3 loss to the Celtics, LeBron James accused reporter Kenny Roda of showing up/asking questions only when Cleveland loses.

Questioned by Roda after the Cavs’ Game 4 win, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue lightheartedly lobbed the same criticism at Roda.

Coaching LeBron can be tricky. Lue must both challenge the greatest player of his generation and handle LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness. Lue can neither let LeBron walk all over him nor bark orders at him.

In this case, it seems Lue is trying to diffuse LeBron’s pettiness before it turns into something bigger. Considering how silly LeBron’s initial comments were, I bet the star is on board.

Tony Bradley becoming North Carolina’s first one-and-done in nearly a decade

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North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.

Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.

It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.

Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.

Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?

He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.

Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.

PBT Extra: What does Boston do with No. 1 pick?

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Option A: Keep the pick, draft Markelle Fultz No. 1, go hard at Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency and if you strike out with him go hard at other guys, maybe in the 2018 class.

Option B: Trade the No. 1 pick for a package that includes Jimmy Butler (or, less likely, Paul George) and put together a roster to make a hard run at the Cavaliers next year.

Those aren’t the only two options on the table, but they represent the two paths the Boston Celtics can go down this off-season after landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. I delve into it more in this PBT Extra.

Expect them to go with option A — the chance to draft a potentially elite player, and have him under contract for years on an affordable rookie deal, is too smart a long-term move to pass up.