Report: DeMarcus Cousins near contract extension with Kings

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Paul George just about has his. John Wall got his. Larry Sanders got his.

They all got extensions to their rookie contracts, the early extensions out of the 2010 Draft.

DeMarcus Cousins was one other name where we expected a deal — he is potentially the best player in the 2010 draft class but with questions about whether he has the mental game to live up to it. It’s not really a question of money, if the Kings don’t give Cousins a max extension this summer, some other team will next summer when he’s a restricted free agent.

The two sides have been talking for a while and now the Kings and Cousins are close to a deal with years maybe being the sticking point, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Two sources told ESPN.com that Cousins could actually have a deal wrapped up before the Kings open training camp next week in Santa Barbara, Calif.

New Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, who has been scouting the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia, is scheduled to return to Sacramento early this week and resume negotiations that sources say are well under way. Cousins is said to be seeking the five-year max deal in the $80 million range that teams can award their designated franchise players, as already seen with Wall in Washington and soon to be repeated this week with George in Indiana.

The two sides have until Oct. 31 to reach a deal (otherwise he becomes a restricted free agent next summer where the Kings can match offers), and they most likely will.

If you wanted more proof, here is what Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told the USA Today.

“I don’t want to say anything premature [about an extension], but I’ve been constant in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They’re out there practicing on their own every day and he’s out there leading those practices. He’s out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. They all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that’s ever happened.

There is no doubt Cousins can play, he averaged 17.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting, plus he had 9.9 rebounds a game. When he has been focused on his game he has looked dominant.

Nobody really expects Cousins to become a saint, just not a distraction. Not the guy battling with referees then drawing techincals and ejections, not the guy battling with coaches to the point the team suspends him. The Kings tried the “buddy” system with Keith Smart as coach, now you have Mike Malone who is a little more old school. It could be tough love with the coach and new part owner of the Kings Shaquille O’Neal as the good cop.

None of that matters, it’s on Cousins. It’s like the Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Cousins has had mentors around him before, he does now, when he chooses to listen he will hear what he needs to hear.

For the Kings, all the goal, but they have to pay the man. Cousins is a max player they hope lives up to that potential, the only question is if they take the risk on the fifth year (and if they do not, how will that impact Cousins and his psyche).

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

AP Foto/Eric Christian Smith
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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.