DeMarcus Cousins

Kings’ brass visit Alabama with DeMarcus Cousins’ big payday looming

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In the last two years, a dozen players have posted 17 points and nine rebounds in a season. Here’s the list with the terms of each player’s most recent contract or extension in parentheses:

  • Blake Griffin (five years, $95 million)
  • Dwight Howard (five years, $83,235,900)
  • David Lee (six years, $79,537,680)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (five years, $65 million)
  • Al Jefferson (five years, $65 million)
  • Kevin Love (four years, $60,825,938)
  • Al Horford (five years, $60 million)
  • Josh Smith (five years, $58 million)
  • Andrew Bynum (four years, $57.2 million)
  • Pau Gasol (three years, $57 million)
  • Tim Duncan (three years, $30 million)
  • DeMarcus Cousins (four years, $15,800,134)

Cousins, whose salary was set by the rookie scale, stands out like a sore thumb. But given his production – he hit 17-9 in both of the last two years – Cousins, who’s eligible to sign an extension before the season or will become a free agent after it, is about to get paid.

That’s why, at a time many front-office personnel are jetting around the country in pursuit of free agents, the Kings are meeting with their own player. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, coach Michael Malone and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman – a friend of new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive – visited center DeMarcus Cousins in his hometown of Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday to let Cousins know they consider him a cornerstone of the franchise’s future.

“DeMarcus is a really talented player and we look forward to him being a major part of this team,” D’Alessandro told Yahoo! Sports. “We want him to get better as a player and help him get there. That’s our mission. We love him in this role. I’m sure he’s excited about it.”

Cousins wants a max extension, and he might be worth it. But he can also be difficult for teammates and coaches to deal with, which makes committing so much to him dangerous.

However, players with his upside are rare, and the Kings won’t easily have an opportunity to replace his talent if they let another team pay him. If at some point they deem his mercurial personality not worth the trouble, there will be options to deal with that.

In the meantime, Sacramento’s new regime should make every effort to build a positive relationship with Cousins, giving both sides a chance to assess whether they trust the other in the long term, and appears to be what’s happening.

Watch Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant trade shots Saturday night

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Kevin Durant won the one-on-one battle — he dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors, while Stephen Curry had “just” 26 and needed 26 shots to get there (but did add 10 assists).

But the Warriors built up a lead thanks to their depth and were able to withstand a late Thunder run to get the win.

Enjoy watching Curry and Durant putting on a show Saturday night in the Bay Area.

Nerlens Noel uses length for ridiculous reverse jam

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Nerlens Noel‘s 7’4″ wingspan can come in handy at times.

Such as when driving on Brook Lopez, and getting forced under the basket, he can just reach around the Nets’ center for the impressive dunk.

Noel finished the game with 18 points, Jahlil Okafor had 22, and the Sixers picked up a win against the Nets 103-98.

Kobe Bryant’s 25 points not enough to upset Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have watched helplessly as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has tormented them for the better part of the past two decades.

Bryant did so again in his final appearance in San Antonio, but the Spurs were able to enjoy this one.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a throwback performance by Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.

“I thought it was great,” San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. “It was a great game, fans were into it. It felt a little bit like the old days in the playoffs, Spurs and the Lakers.”

Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.

Bryant had 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, going 3 for 6 on 3-pointers in guiding the Lakers to an 81-79 lead entering the fourth.

“I watched him growing up,” said Lakers guard and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “I watched him kill the Spurs.”

San Antonio has trailed for only two minutes in the fourth quarter at home this season, but the Lakers led for all but 23 seconds in the opening seven minutes of the period.

Bryant finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.

“It’s like watching Michael (Jordan),” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was just watching. It was great. It was great. We made some mistakes. He took advantage of it. He’s fantastic.”

After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders.

“He was like, `No way,’ and I was like `Dude,’ ” Bryant said. “What could I do? I miss the easy ones and make some B.S. like that. I don’t even know what to tell you. It was Tim’s version of a yell, so it was a strong whisper.”

The Lakers trailed 101-99 lead after trading 3-pointers following Bryant’s improbable shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.

“Missed defensive assignments,” said Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, who had 12 points. “They executed their offense to perfection. We were young and that’s an excuse I could give you.”

Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.

Spurs: San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.

 

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below: