Marco Belinelli ended up being a key contributor for the Bulls last year, thanks in part to the absence of Derrick Rose, but also because of the incredibly high number of injuries his teammates sustained, especially near the end of the season.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way in Chicago, and with the team betting on health next season, Belinelli was allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent.
While many teams came calling, Belinelli says that what the Spurs were offering, both in terms of contract and opportunity, was ultimately too good for him to pass up.
From Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype:
Why the Spurs?
MB: Because I think it’s one of the best teams or maybe the best team in the NBA, they have a great organization, a great coach. I will improve my game and try to help the team to win the championship.
How was their pitch?
MB: This summer a lot of teams called me to sign a contract with them. But at the same time when a team like San Antonio and a coach like Gregg Popovich call you, and they want you so bad on their team, then you want to win the championship with them. The money was good, it’s a two-year deal, but at the same time it was the best team to improve my game and try to win the title.
The Spurs not only have a team full of international players that Belinelli can relate to on a personal level, but their professionalism and championship pedigree is virtually unmatched around the league.
As long as the dollars were there — and they were, as Belinelli signed for two years guaranteed for almost $6 million in total — then San Antonio, given all that they have going for them, was clearly an easy choice for Belinelli to make.
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.