DeMarcus Cousins

New Kings coach wants Cousins to be an improved passer


New Kings coach Mike Malone says of his offense what every coach says about their offense in the off-season — he wants to run. He wants to defend and be up tempo in transition. That may be true, but it’s pretty much like everyone running for president in the last 30 years saying they want to end politics as usual in Washington — it’s a nice sentiment that doesn’t really lead to much in action.

In a lengthy interview with the Sacramento Bee, Malone then says when the offense slows down some he would like to run it through DeMarcus Cousins in the post more often. Good strategy, but Malone is setting the bar higher for his potential star.

I’ve talked about DeMarcus a lot, but he’s so talented. He’s a big who can play away from the basket. But I’m going to ask him to play inside as well this year, be a guy we can run our offense through at times, because he can be such a good passer. The challenge for him is to cut down on those three turnovers a game. The luxury we had last year at Golden State, we had two bigs (David Lee and Andrew Bogut) who were not only good passers but willing passers. My hope is we get to that at some point.

Likely by the time the season starts, or at least before the Kings play their second game, Cousins is going to get a massive extension to his rookie deal. It will be max or close to it as the Kings bet their future on him. How he responds to that — does he show up feeling he needs to show he is worth the money? — will go a long way to saying what kind turnaround Malone will have with the Kings. Cousins is the centerpiece.

Cousins can pass, and if he is a willing and improved passer he can be a guy you run an offense through in the half court. He certainly has the physical tools. The questions are just is he mentally ready and can Malone get him there?

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.