Getty Images

Are GMs hesitant to trade for DeMarcus Cousins, worried about attitude?

23 Comments

DeMarcus Cousins is the best traditional center in the game today. Coming off an Olympic Gold this summer in Rio, he is averaging 28.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a game this season. He is a game-changing beast in the paint, without question.

He’s also a guy with a reputation for being a handful in the locker room, the latest sign of that being a profanity-filled outburst at a Sacramento Bee columnist last week. While Cousins didn’t like his brother being mentioned in a story (for context on a bar fight) and this columnist has long been critical of the Kings’ big man, how Cousins handled it left people around the league shaking their heads.

Every armchair GM in the NBA is devising a way for their team to trade for Cousins. The actual GMs…

Two thoughts here.

First, a lot of GMs may be hesitant, and a few would stay out of the sweepstakes, but if Cousins were actually put on the trade block a bunch of the guys who say “no” now would step forward with massive — though not equal value — offers. The idea that culture trumps talent sounds great until you don’t have as much talent as the other guy. Talent wins basketball games. Cousins is immensely talented. It’s understandable for GMs of teams with talent to be hesitant, but teams scrambling to get enough to compete? There would be big offers.

Second, Cousins is not available for a trade right now. Cousins himself doesn’t expect a trade this season, and for all their flaws the 10-16 Kings are just 1.5 games back of the Blazers for the eighth playoff spot in the West. The postseason dream is not dead in Sacramento. Also, we know that owner Vivek Ranadive is Cousins’ biggest backer in the organization. Combine that with what we know of the new CBA and the fact the Kings know if they deal him they start a multi-year rebuilding process, and it’s hard to imagine the Kings making any move here before the draft next June at the earliest.

Here’s a scenario worth thinking about: After the season, the Kings go to Cousins and his agent and say, we want to offer you the new designated veteran extension — five years, starting at $35 million a year, totaling about $207 million. (Cousins will meet the criteria needed to get that offer.) Cousins can say no, but if the Kings call his bluff as a free agent in 2018 the most other teams could offer would be four years, in the $140 million guaranteed range (depending upon that cap that year). Does Cousins want out of Sacramento bad enough to risk that financial hit? If he’s willing to turn down the extension, then the Kings have to deal, but I’d be shocked if anything happens until the season ends and something like this plays out. It’s not happening in February.

Lamar Odom opens up about cocaine addiction

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Players' Tribune
Leave a comment

Lamar Odom has discussed his cocaine addiction before – how it derailed his NBA career, marriage to Kim Kardashian, his life. Never detailed like this, though.

Odom in The Players’ Tribune:

With cocaine especially, there’s a high, and then an emotional low. So it’s like a roller coaster. You go high, and then you go low. High, low, high, low. After you do it, you feel shame. You think about all the reasons why you shouldn’t have done it. Then the cycle starts again.

That’s the thing people don’t understand. Anybody who’s lived a complicated, drug-infused life like I’ve lived knows the cycle — with women, cheating on my wife, shit like that. Nights when I should have been asleep. Nights when I stayed up sniffing coke. Lot of those nights. When your heart is beating fast. When you should know better. When you’re just riding that roller coaster, man.

You think I wasn’t feeling shame? You think I was blind to what I was doing?

Nah, I wasn’t blind to it. Shame … pain. It’s part of the whole cycle. My brain was broken. As the years went on, and I got into my 30s, my career was winding down, and things just got out of control.

When I was like 32, 33 … I just wanted to get high all the time. That’s it, just get high. And things got dark as hell.

One of the darkest places I’ve ever been was when I was in a motel room, getting high with this chick, and my wife (at the time) walked in. That probably was like rock bottom.

I recommend reading all of Odom’s powerful essay, in which he explains the personal struggles that contributed to his drug use.

Report: Kyrie Irving not speaking with Cavaliers

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
8 Comments

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin smoothed over Kyrie Irving‘s discontentment for years.

As new general manager Koby Altman tries to project stability, it seems there’s plenty of disarray behind the scenes in the wake of Irving’s trade request.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, via Chris Fillar of 92.3 The Fan:

Whatever are or aren’t the problems between Irving and LeBron James, this makes it far less likely they’ll reconcile. It already seemed LeBron wouldn’t be proactive in mending the relationship, and this saga has only generated more distrust.

Irving appears increasingly likely to get his wish, with Cleveland moving toward trading him. He’s just upping the odds by furthering the divide.

DeMar DeRozan: Talk of Raptors’ changes overblown

AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
Leave a comment

Raptors president Masai Ujiri called for a “culture reset,” alluding to an offense less reliant on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan isolations.

DeMarre Carroll, traded from Toronto to the Nets, doubts the Raptors will change much.

Know who agrees with him? DeRozan.

DeRozan, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

“I think the media kind of blow it out of proportion like it’s going to be something dramatic, like a complete dramatic 180-degree change,” DeRozan said, who was back in Toronto helping out with the Raptors’ Basketball Academy at Humber College on Monday. “It’s not that at all. It’s just moreso locking in and understanding what it takes to win from every single position. Everyone just know from our failures, guys stepping up and being better leaders, not just me and Kyle but everybody. I think once we lock in and everyone holds themselves accountable, everything else will come around perfect. That’s all it is.”

DeRozan didn’t disagree when it was suggested more ball movement might be demanded this season, but he did say the anticipated level of change by many outside the team is completely out of whack with the reality. The offence is still going to run through himself and Kyle Lowry.

This is shaping up to be a problem. Ujiri made this grand proclamation then brought back the same core – Lowry, DeRozan and coach Dwane Casey. This was the danger, that they were too comfortable with the status quo.

We’ll see how it actually plays out. DeRozan has a strong track record of improvement, and the Raptors might be forcing him to see the game differently by playing him at point guard.

But there at least appears to be a disconnect somewhere between the front office and players.

Rumor: Cavaliers trying to dump salary in Kyrie Irving trade

Jason Miller/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Cavaliers are reportedly prioritizing youth in a Kyrie Irving trade.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Another stated goal is to dump off some salary and reduce the luxury tax bill.

The Cavs – who reportedly lost more than $40 million last season – are on track to become the first team in NBA history to pay the luxury-tax repeater rate. They’ve led the league in payroll, racking up big luxury-tax bills, the last two seasons. They even pulled the rare feat of carving out max cap space (used on LeBron James) then getting about the luxury-tax line in the same season three years ago, finishing second to the Nets in spending that season.

Cleveland now faces a luxury-tax bill north of $78 million – which would eclipse its 2015-16 mark ($54 million) as the second highest tax payment ever, trailing just 2013-14 Brooklyn (nearly $91 million).

Most teams would never spend as much as the Cavaliers have the previous three seasons. Most teams would never approach Cleveland’s costs this year, which include $142 million in player salaries.

But most teams don’t have LeBron.

Remember, the Heat cutting corners on spending contributed to LeBron leaving Miami. And Cavs owner Dan Gilbert reportedly promised to spend unconditionally when LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Is cutting costs the message the Cavaliers want to send as LeBron enters a contract year?

If so, they have a few candidates for shedding:

  • Tristan Thompson – three years, $52,408,695 remaining
  • J.R. Smith – three years, $44,160,000 remaining (just $3.87 million of $15.68 million guaranteed final year)
  • Iman Shumpert – two years, $21,348,313 remaining
  • Channing Frye – one year, $7,420,912 remaining

All those players, roughly in order of salary, contribute to winning.

The Cavs should have little trouble unloading those contracts in an Irving trade. He’s so valuable, teams will incur a lopsided financial deal to get him. They’ll just send Cleveland less talent to compensate.

It’s the classic dilemma – money vs. on-court success. Teams evaluate this tradeoff every day.

For the Cavaliers, there’s just the additional pressure of LeBron’s looming free agency.