Houston at Sacramento

Shaq on DeMarcus Cousins’ technicals: “That’s called passion”

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DeMarcus Cousins plays physical and he plays hard. That’s going to earn him some technicals.

The problem is when Cousins thinks the calls against him are unfair (and that happens a lot) he can’t just let it go. Either he keeps going harder and retaliates against a player or he chirps at the official (if not outright gets in their face). His reputation means he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt often, but he brings that on himself. Last season all that earned him a league-leading 16 technicals, a suspension for having more than 15, and $70,000 in fines.

Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal stuck up for Cousins and used another word for what is going on — passion. He likes the Cousins mean streak. That’s what he told Dime Magazine in a Q&A at Rucker Park in New York.

“I tell him, ‘be yourself and dominate.’ First of all, if you don’t put numbers up, nobody’s going to look at you. Now that people are looking at you, you have to make them respect you. Sometimes when you do crazy stuff, nobody’s going to like it. But you can’t tame that passion. I want my big man to be mean. I don’t want my big man smiling all the time, so I don’t mind. All the greatest players were angry, and they talked all the time. Charles Barkley, myself, so many others. But we also put up numbers, we were positive and did the right things in the community.

“Cousins will get technicals, he’s going to argue with the referees. That’s called passion and you never want to take a guy’s passion away. And not every guy has passion. I know, because I can give you five big guys right now who don’t have passion. I won’t tell you, but you know who they are.”

Playing a little bit angry is certainly okay, that passion just can’t overwhelm you rational judgement.

Cousins has said it before, when he feels wronged he just cannot let it go. He has to be heard, he has to react. That’s the part that he’s got to overcome (and he has improved on). It’s not how he plays the game, it’s the reaction when things don’t go his way. He doesn’t need to be Zen about it, even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t, but you have to take that frustration and channel it back into the game.

Cousins talent is unquestioned — it’s likely to earn him a spot on Team USA this summer. But if he’s going to start leading the Kings up the ladder in the West (along with Rudy Gay) they need him on the court. Not back in the locker room, or playing carefully as to avoid another technical.

Joel Embiid out indefinitely

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid in action during an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The 76ers could finish the season with the last No. 1 pick and the best rookie in years sidelined.

One one hand, Philadelphia should be thrilled that describes two players.

On the other hand, it’s not ideal to have so much talent injured.

No. 1 pick Ben Simmons is definitely out for the rest of the year. And it doesn’t sound encouraging for Joel Embiid, who has been hampered by a knee injury.

CSN Philly:

Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.

Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.

Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.

Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.

This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.

But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery

New York Knicks' Joakim Noah (13) walks to the bench during a time out in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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And then there was Derrick Rose.

The Knicks’ big-name offseason acquisitions* are falling one by one.

New York is releasing Brandon Jennings. Now Joakim Noah is out.

*I’m not counting Courtney Lee, who is unknown to far too many casual fans.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.

But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.

Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.

Buddy Hield: Vivek Ranadive told me at Kings-Pelicans games, ‘We’re still going to get you’

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, right, talks with teammate Ben McLemore as they work out before their NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Hield, along with New Orleans Pelicans teammates Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, was sent to the Kings in exchange for center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi, Sunday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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The Kings reportedly coveted Buddy Hield in last year’s draft. Once the Pelicans picked him No. 6, Sacramento traded down from No. 8.

Several months later, the Kings traded for him in the DeMarcus Cousins deal.

Between?

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive apparently communicated his intentions at the Pelicans’ two games in Sacramento this season.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Hield:

Vivek always, every time — even the past two times — he always talk about, “We’re always pushing hard for you.” He said, “We’re still going to get you.” He kept saying that.

I was surprised with him saying that, but now, when I saw I was going to Sacramento, I said, “Oh, these guys are really serious about me.” I just kind of know they were determined about getting me.

This is wild!

Hield obviously doesn’t outright say the Kings’ front office rushed this trade through before the Cousins-loving owner, awestruck by the prospect of having the next Stephen Curry, changed his mind. But Hield’s statement runs right in line with all those rumors.

Even at face value, Ranadive’s words, assuming Hield is accurately conveying them, are something — especially for an owner who has denied much basketball involvement.

Sacramento is some kind of place.

So many pretty putback dunks (videos)

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Yesterday’s NBA games featured a fun number of highlight putback dunks.

The best by:

Dewayne Dedmon:

DeAndre Jordan:

Blake Griffin:

Serge Ibaka: