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John Wall on DeMarcus Cousins before trade: ‘He said he would come to D.C’

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Before the Kings traded him to the Pelicans, DeMarcus Cousins said he and former Kentucky teammate John Wall sometimes talk about teaming up in the NBA. Of course, Cousins said he wanted Wall to join him in Sacramento and Wall wanted the reunion with the Wizards.

Now, Wall sheds more light on those conversations.

Wall, in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Did you ever talk to your former Kentucky teammate and fellow NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins about playing for the Wizards before the Sacramento Kings dealt him to the New Orleans Pelicans?

I talked to him. He said he would come to D.C., but he didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know he was going to be traded like that. We thought it was going to be later on or he was just going to stay [in Sacramento]. It shocked me just like it shocked him.

Were you disappointed the Wizards weren’t able to get Cousins?

It was so crazy because he walked past me when I was talking to the media [after the NBA All-Star Game] and he said something about the trade. I was like, ‘Huh.’ It didn’t register what he said. So I called him right when I got to my phone. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m at the airport. I don’t know where to go. Do I go back to ‘Sac’ or do I stay here?’

He was just hurt. I feel that with all the tough times he had been through [in Sacramento], he never gave up on the city. There was so much he did for the community. So much that he gave back. He always showed that he wanted to be there whether they were losing bad or not. In six years, he never said he wanted to leave.

For a guy to give that type of a commitment, you would think he would stay there. I guess they didn’t like the way it was going. I hope he’s in a better place now. He’s happy. Hopefully, they can make the playoffs and get a push. If not, he’s got a free summer this summer to figure out where he’s going to be.

There are two possible readings of “He said he would come to D.C.:”

1. Cousins planned to join the Wizards.

2. Cousins was willing to join the Wizards.

No. 2 seems much more likely. Cousins reportedly planned to sign a designated-veteran-player extension with the Kings before they traded him. In fact, Cousins wanted that extension – available from only Sacramento, which drafted him – so badly, his agent threatened not to re-sign with any team that traded for the center. Plus, Wall’s answer to the second question reveals his understanding of Cousins’ commitment to the Kings.

But Cousins staying in Sacramento is obviously out the window. The Pelicans have floundered with him, and he’ll be a free agent in 2018.

Could he join Washington?

The Wizards have an excellent starting lineup, but center Marcin Gortat (33) is significantly older than Wall (26), Bradley Beal (23), Otto Porter (23) and Markieff Morris (27). Cousins (26) would better fit the others’ timeline.

However, Washington doesn’t project to have cap space in 2018. Even stripping the roster to just Wall, Beal, Morris and Porter (assuming he re-signs as a restricted free agent this summer) – no easy task with Ian Mahinmi, Gortat and Jason Smith under contract – doesn’t project to leave enough cap space to offer Cousins anywhere near the max. And shedding Beal or Porter – dropping Morris almost certainly wouldn’t be enough to create max space – would make the Wizards far less inviting for Cousins.

A Wall-Cousins reunion might just have to remain a fantasy.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.