There is a natural tension between the Knicks and Nets — the Knicks are the long-established team in New York; the Nets come into Brooklyn, they have been brash, and they are trying to steal part of that market share. Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton have gone back and forth a little on the issue this summer. This is not a full blown rivalry yet (we really need a playoff series between them now to get there) but there is some bad blood.
Or at least was.
Sensing things could get ugly starting with the two owners — Mikhail Prokhorov of the Nets and James Dolan of the Knicks — David Stern called a meeting early last season and told the two sides to sit down and smoke a peace pipe (in a metaphorical sense), reports the New York Post.
“There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down, which happened early in the season.
The official also confirmed Stern assisted in getting the pair together in an attempt to prevent a wave of spitballs going back and forth over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
Prokhorov and the Nets would love to spark a rivalry — they want to challenge for the heart and soul of New York. They are also a long way from that. The Nets have fans, but at its core New York is a Knicks town and changing that could take generations if it happens at all, something we were told by Kenny Anderson and plenty of other New Yorkers. So the Nets try to stoke the fires a little, then Dolan gets pissed. So everybody wins.
But the two sides have gotten along well enough to reach a deal to share the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, and likely the 2017 or 2018 one as well.
See, everybody is playing nice.
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.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.