Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers to be without Nick Young for at least two games

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The Lakers have a tough two game road trip — Indiana and Memphis — and now they have to do it without their second leading scorer and a primary shot creator.

Nick Young, who has been playing through knee pain for weeks, will not join the Lakers on the trip, he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Don’t be shocked if Swaggy P is out a little longer — he is expected to opt out and be a free agent this summer and nagging injuries do not help you get larger contracts.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $80,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Tuesday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

No Young means the Lakers will be without his 16.8 points a game against two of the league’s best defenses. More than just the points, he is a guy who creates shots on a team lacking guys who can do that in the half court. Those are not always well advised shots, but at least he can get them off.

Without Young expect to see a lot of Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. The Lakers plan in both games on this road trip is to run and not let these two teams get their defense set. Problem is, that requires getting defensive stops, something that has really has not been the Lakers’ forte this year (to put it kindly).

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

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.

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Markieff Morris will be a happy Sun

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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.