San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

Sam Presti says Thunder not considering amnestying Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins has guided Kevin Durant* and mentored Steven Adams – the Oklahoma City Thunder’s best and arguably most-pivotal players, respectively.

*Durant during his MVP-acceptance speech on Perkins: “I hated you before you got here. But the moment you got here, man, you just changed my whole perception of you. Just one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I thank you so much. The late-night calls after tough games, you texting me telling me I’m MVP – that meant a lot to me. Thank you.”

Perkins is also due $9,404,342 next season, the final year of his contract.

His on-court production no longer warrants that salary, but he also has a strong locker-room presence. The Thunder must balance those competing forces when facing the annual question:

Will Oklahoma City amnesty Perkins?

Thunder general manager Sam Presti, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

“I knew I’d get that question,” Presti said. “I wish I had something clever to say there, but I don’t. We’ll look at everything, as we always do. But as we’ve said before, it’s not something that’s been considered to this point.”

Well, that just can’t be true. Not even considering amnestying Perkins would be stupid, and Presti isn’t stupid. But if he doesn’t plan to amnesty Perkins, why dwell on the internal discussions about that decision?

Beyond Perkins’ value as a veteran leader, amnestying him wouldn’t accomplish much.

Amnestying Perkins would put the Thunder slightly below the projected salary cap, but they’d still have just the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) to spend on a free agent.

If the Perkins don’t amnesty Perkins, they could still spend the full mid-level exception without crossing into the luxury tax – though adding the bi-annual exception ($2,077,000) would put them over the line. So, there’s the slightest incentive to amnesty Perkins if Oklahoma City can use the bi-annual to replace him with a better player, which is not a given and would cost quite a bit of real dollars.

Plus, Perkins’ large expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. Those types of deals can always grease the wheels when non-matching salaries are involved.

In the meantime, Oklahoma City will be keeping a well-liked player who still has some value – even if it’s not as much as his paycheck.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.

Kevin Love drips snot all over his face, maybe into his mouth (video)

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Cameras zoomed in on Kevin Love at the wrong moment:

Need a sensory cleanser? Enjoy this fantastic outlet pass from Kevin Love to LeBron James:

Derrick Rose out for Knicks-Cavaliers with back injury, getting MRI

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Derrick Rose #25 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2016 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.

Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.

Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.

Brandon Jennings will start in Rose’s place.