Report: DeMarcus Cousins near contract extension with Kings

14 Comments

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).

Report: Clippers’ management remains committed to re-signing Blake Griffin

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe Friday night in Utah, maybe not for a few weeks, but the Clippers season is going to end before they reach the conference finals, and with Blake Griffin sidelined by injury. It’s an all-too-familiar scene. It will be six seasons of the Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Griffin experience in Los Angeles, and they will not have gotten out of the second round (unless you think they can come back on the Jazz from down 3-2, then beat the Warriors).

That has come with a lot of talk about the Clippers breaking up the core. Jordan remains under contract, Paul would be too hard to replace, and that leads to a lot of speculation — inside and outside the league — that Griffin could be on the move this summer, when he becomes a free agent.

That’s not what the Clippers want, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports in a video essay.

Management remains committed to signing him to a long-term deal this summer, league sources tell me.

Doc Rivers has said he wants to bring back this core. Multiple times. His argument is that this is a 50+ win team that is one of the better teams in the NBA, why would you take a big step back rather than look for the tweaks that get the team to a title?

Steve Ballmer has the checkbook deep enough to pay both Paul and Griffin max money (although keeping fellow free agent J.J. Redick as well would be difficult). The Clippers will have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA, and is this team worth that? Especially in a conference where the Mount Everest of Golden State is not going anywhere for a few years, not to mention the Spurs and Rockets will remain good, Utah is on the rise, and so are teams like the Wolves. The Clippers will be a good team that needs a lot of breaks to go their way to really contend — how much would Ballmer pay for that?

The Clippers need to do some soul searching this offseason.

Just don’t be shocked if the result of that is them running this team back again.

Playing through sore knee, Jimmy Butler says “I’m good,” will go in Game 6

Getty Images
1 Comment

At this point in the season, everyone is banged up. It’s just a matter of degree.

But with Rajon Rondo listed as out for Game 6, the Bulls’ need a big game from Jimmy Butler if they are going to extend this series to a Game 7. And he is not near 100 percent.

In Game 4, Butler banged knees with a Celtic and it impacted him during Game 5, as Vincent Goodwill detailed at CSNChicago.com.

But he could only muster two shots and barely seemed to push off on his left foot—his lead foot, and it hampered what the Bulls could do late as he was their prime fourth-quarter performer.

He couldn’t even go straight up on a jumper over the diminutive Isaiah Thomas without pump-faking, throwing off his rhythm. He wouldn’t elaborate on the injury, although he said it happened during the second half of Game 4 on Sunday night when he collided with a Celtics player.

“I’m good. Everyone’s a little nicked up; I’ll be all right,” Butler said in the locker room.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune added this detail.

Boston has done a good job of limiting the number of times Isaiah Thomas is exposed on defense, having to cover Wade or Butler. Essentially, the Celtics switch in sort of a matchup zone to keep IT covering a shooter on the wing, even if his man goes up and sets the pick. Zone’s can be exposed (there’s a reason they’re more a change-of-pace rather than a basic set defense in the NBA), but it involves getting into the middle, getting into the paint. Which comes back to driving the ball and pushing off, things that Butler is struggling to do at his usual level.

There are a lot of other factors favoring Boston in Game 6, but if Chicago is going to force a Game 7 Sunday they need Butler to be an All-NBA level player.

Knicks’ Joakim Noah has expected shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Knicks center Joakim Noah has had right shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff, a procedure that could sideline him until training camp.

The Knicks say Noah had the surgery Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed by Dr. David Altchek.

The team didn’t give a timetable for Noah’s recovery, but coach Jeff Hornacek said late in the season that if Noah had the operation, the recovery time could be five months.

Noah had an injury-plagued season that ended early when he was suspended 20 games by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. There are still 12 games remaining on the penalty that he will have to serve next season when healthy.

Noah had surgery on his other shoulder last season, limiting him to 29 games in his final season in Chicago before signing a four-year, $72 million deal with New York.

PBT Extra: Pacers offseason moves start with Paul George

Leave a comment

Larry Bird, when not delivering All-Star Game bids, should be spending his time lighting candles and praying in churches all over Indianapolis that Paul George makes an All-NBA team.

If PG13 makes the cut, Bird’s job this summer becomes more clear: Offer George the designated player max extension, get him to sign the deal, then get back to building a contender around him.

If George doesn’t make the cut, things get much tougher for Bird. I discuss all of it in this new PBT Extra.