Could the Wizards land DeMarcus Cousins?

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Over the course of the next few months, we’re going to hear an awful lot of trade speculation regarding DeMarcus Cousins. Different trade scenarios will surface, and all the while, the Kings will likely hold the public position that they “have no interest in trading Cousins” right up until they actually do it.

The latest team to have interest in acquiring Cousins? The Washington Wizards. Dan Fegan, recently hired by Cousins, is also the agent for Wizards point guard and Cousins’ former Kentucky teammate John Wall. It makes sense that the two would want to play together again and that Fegan would want to stick them in the same city. There’s nothing agents love more than having multiple clients on the same team. Here’s Sam Amick of USA Today on the Wizards as a landing spot:

“While Cousins has insisted publicly that he does not want to be traded, his story has been different privately. The recent hiring of influential agent Dan Fegan has led to the widespread assumption within the organization that Cousins will eventually demand a trade. Specifically, two people close to the situation who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation said a trade to the Washington Wizards would be considered ideal for Cousins and Fegan because Cousins could rejoin former Kentucky teammate and fellow Fegan client, point guard John Wall. The Wizards, who are known to have expressed recent interest in Cousins, have been told by the Kings that they have no intention of trading him

The Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics have been among the teams that have shown interest in the past on gambling with the player who could become the most dominant big man in the game. But will Petrie still be at the helm by the time the Feb. 21 trading deadline arrives? Will he be allowed to make franchise-altering moves such as these if his time in Sacramento is nearing an end?”

Sam Amick | USA Today

I’m not so sure I would call a trade to the 4-24 Washington Wizards “ideal”. Cousins could stand to be in a winning environment with a proven track record for player development, and that ain’t Washington. However, a fresh start anywhere would likely help, and Wall’s presence is apparently enough to make Washington a desired landing spot for Fegan and Cousins.

The question comes down to what the Wizards are willing to offer. Nene has voiced his frustration in Washington, so perhaps a swap of brooding big men (and a bigger contract like John Salmons included to even it out) would interest both teams.

But all that comes back to Amick’s point about Sacramento’s uncertain future as a whole. Will Petrie be enabled to make a move? Either way, the phones are going to keep ringing. Dan Fegan will be on line one, and opposing teams will be on lines two, three and four. This isn’t going to go away until Cousins is on a plane out of Sacramento.

Stan Van Gundy backs off feud with ESPN ahead of televised Pistons game

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Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said he wouldn’t give ESPN its usual access – a private pre-game meeting and an in-game interview – in the aftermath of ESPN publishing LaVar Ball’s negative comments about Lakers coach Luke Walton.

The first test of Van Gundy’s new policy comes with today’s Pistons-Wizards game on ESPN… and Van Gundy is mostly backing down.

Van Gundy, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“I got an email from Rick Carlisle of the coaches association and they want me to cooperate, so my whole idea was to boycott the thing in support of coaches,” Van Gundy said. “If the coaches don’t want that, then it would be a selfish thing, sort of a grandstanding thing.”

“I’m certainly not looking to do extra stuff with ESPN.com when those guys call and want to do things,” Van Gundy said. “They want to put themselves out there as a journalistic enterprise — they’re clearly not. They don’t have any journalistic standards. I have no obligation to do anything extra.”

Many media members have quoted Ball on a variety of issues. Coaches threw a fit over this one because they’re sensitive to coaches being criticized. It wasn’t about journalistic ethics or the source. Van Gundy and other coaches simply didn’t like Ball’s conclusion.

I’m so glad Van Gundy is no longer grandstanding. [extreme sarcasm]

He’s not obligated to speak with ESPN reporters, but when Van Gundy rails on journalistic standards as cover for disagreeing with the opinion a journalist published, he sounds a lot like the guy he loves to criticize.

Pistons’ Jon Leuer to undergo season-ending surgery

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Jon Leuer‘s ankles survived this.

But apparently they’re not invincible.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

After suffering a sprained ankle on Oct. 31, the symptoms worsened, as an exam revealed bone fragments and other issues. Leuer has missed the last 35 games and has decided to have season-ending ankle surgery, he told The Detroit News on Friday.

Leuer, 28, has scheduled the procedure to remove bone fragments for next Friday and will have a four-month rehabilitation process.

The Pistons have applied to the NBA for a disabled-player exception

The Pistons have been without Leuer for a while, and they’ve done fine without him. Anthony Tolliver is a capable backup stretch four, and Henry Ellenson adds even more insurance there. Detroit misses Leuer as a stretch center, providing a different style behind Andre Drummond, but Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic have at least decently handled those reserve minutes.

The bigger issue: The Pistons are paying Leuer $10,497,319 this season and owe him $19,510,724 over the next two years and don’t miss him that much. He’s a luxury they don’t need and maybe can’t afford.

Perhaps, they’ll deal him before the trade deadline, as they look to upgrade the roster for a playoff run. Detroit could send Leuer and a draft pick or young player (Stanley Johnson) for a better player on a more favorable contract. How about Leuer and a first-round pick to the Bulls for Nikola Mirotic?

A disabled-player exception (DPE) would be worth $5,248,660, half Leuer’s salary. It could be used to sign a free agent for the rest of the season or trade for a player in the final year of his contract.

But the NBA grants a DPE only if a league-appointed physician rules the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be unable to play through June 15. The reported timeline would have Leuer back in May.

Still, the league tends to be lax with giving out DPEs. Detroit has a chance to get one.

The Pistons are just $2,745,417 below the luxury-tax line. So, they’re unlikely to use a full Leuer DPE to acquire another player (and would still need to clear a roster spot). But it could be helpful in facilitating a bigger trade.

PBT Podcast: All-Star starters mock draft, picking reserves

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The votes are in, and LeBron James and Stephen Curry are your All-Star captains.

For the first time in NBA All-Star history, that means they are picking their own teams, playground style, first from the pool of starters, then the pool of reserves. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports take on the roles of LeBron and Curry and pick their All-Star starters, from James Harden through Kyrie Irving.

Then the pair gets into who should be the All-Star Game reserves — and choosing among the Western Conference guards is brutal. Do they leave out Damian Lillard? Lou Williams? Klay Thompson? And that’s not even getting into Paul George being a bubble All-Star in a deep West.

Kurt and Dan break it all down, plus talk some Kemba Walker trade scenarios.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Aaron Gordon forgoes desperation attempt to win, sinks halfcourt shot instead (video)

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The Magic were in dire straights near the end of their game against the Cavaliers last night. Orlando trailed 104-103 with 0.2 seconds and a jump ball to be tossed at center court. By rule, the Magic didn’t have time to catch-and-shoot, let alone recover the jump ball then shoot. Aaron Gordon had to tip the jump ball through the hoop from halfcourt – nearly impossible, but technically possible.

Instead, Gordon grabbed the jump ball – a violation – then sank a halfcourt shot. What an ironic end.

Cleveland then harmlessly inbounded the ball to seal the win.