Jrue Holiday hoping his commitment to Pelicans sways DeMarcus Cousins

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Jrue Holiday says his new five-year contract with the Pelicans thrusts him into the role of helping persuade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to make a similar long-term commitment to New Orleans.

“I’ve already started” lobbying Cousins, Holiday said Thursday night after signing his new contract, which his agent, Jason Glushon, has said is worth $126 million, and could balloon to $150 million with incentives.

Up until NBA free agency began July 1, Cousins was among a number of Pelicans players urging Holiday to stay in New Orleans, where he has played since 2013.

“They were definitely hounding me – in a good way,” Holiday said, jokingly adding that there “might have even been threats.”

“But whatever. It was pretty much, `We want you back.’ They were saying they couldn’t do this without me.”

General manager Dell Demps reiterated that Holiday was New Orleans’ “No. 1 priority in free agency.”

“We believe his best days are in front of him,” Demps added.

Demps needs to be right about the 27-year-old Holiday if the Pelicans are to amount to much in the talent-rich Western Conference.

Holiday averaged 15.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 67 games last season. During his eight-year NBA career, the former UCLA standout has averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 assists.

Demps has said he sees the 6-foot-4 Holiday’s value in his leadership and his versatility. Holiday is proficient at either guard spot and Demps gave a nod to Holiday’s defensive acumen when he described him as a consummate “two-way player.”

Holiday, meanwhile, alluded to a lot of unfinished business in New Orleans and the importance of the relationships he’s built there.

A nagging lower-leg injury sidelined him for much of his first two seasons with the Pelicans. He was healthy for most of his third season, albeit while playing under minute restrictions, but a collision that fractured his eye wall caused him to miss the final weeks of that campaign.

Last season, he missed training camp and the first 12 regular-season games while taking a leave of absence to tend to his wife, former U.S. national soccer team player Lauren Holiday, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant. Their first child, a daughter, was born healthy, after which Lauren Holiday had surgery to remove the benign tumor. Jrue Holiday said the Pelicans’ support during that time played a considerable part in his decision to stay.

“Obviously, my family has been through a little bit of hiccup,” Holiday said. “The organization and Dell, as well, has helped take care of us as a family. Coming back here was an easy choice.”

Holiday added that he did feel he would be “disappointing a lot of people” he cared about if he left for another team. He added that he’s seen “a lot of good teams grow together – go through ups and downs.”

There was a family theme to Holiday’s contract signing at team headquarters. Holiday was joined not only by his wife and daughter, but also his parents, both brothers, his sister and Glushon, his agent.

Now, Holiday said, he expects to be able to spend an entire summer training hard for the first time in several years and is looking forward to his first full training camp in more than three seasons, leading him to concur with Demps that his best basketball lies ahead.

Holiday said he also senses that a promising stint late last season in which the Pelicans won eight of 11 games offered only a glimpse of what the Pelicans could accomplish with their All-Star front court of Anthony Davis and Cousins, the latter having been acquired in a trade after the 2017 All-Star game and still developing chemistry with his new teammates. Therefore, he didn’t necessarily feel the need to leave in order to win, even though the Pelicans have made the playoffs only once – and haven’t won a playoff game – in his first four seasons with the club.

“Once we started to jell, I was like, `Man, I could really see this going well,” Holiday said. “Obviously, previous years we had injuries and that hasn’t helped us, but moving forward all I see is kind of how we meshed last year and how fun it was to win.”

 

Report: Otis Smith withdraws from Kings’ job search

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The Kings need to replace Scott Perry – an important vacancy in what has been a clownish front office run by Vlade Divac and overseen by Vivek Ranadive.

Sacramento won’t be hiring Otis Smith, the former Magic general manager who met with the Kings.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

https://twitter.com/BA_Turner/status/891002351594622976

I wouldn’t beat up the Kings about this. They quite possibly chose not to hire Smith and allowed it be framed this way as a favor to him – a fairly common courtesy.

But that the Kings were even considering Smith, despite all his failings in Orlando, doesn’t bode well for their search.

Kevin Durant breaks Guinness world record in India

AP Photo/Altaf Qadri
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NEW DELHI (AP) Kevin Durant is in India to help the NBA make inroads in a nation of 1.3 billion.

Durant took part in a camp in New Delhi, where the Golden State Warriors star helped set a Guinness world record Friday for the largest basketball lesson – 3,459 participants across multiple venues. The NBA Finals MVP met young players at the NBA Academy, with hundreds more joining by satellite from four other cities across the country.

Durant’s first trip to India is the latest move by the league to grow the game there, much as it is doing in China.

The academy opened in May to train some of the country’s top talents. Since 2008, the NBA has staged more than 1,500 events in 30 Indian cities.

Clippers sound like they’re pulling out of Kyrie Irving trade pursuit

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The six teams – Spurs, Clippers, Suns, Timberwolves, Knicks, Heat – that have reportedly proposed trades to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving are falling by the wayside, one by one.

The Heat denied making an offer. And it sounds as if the Clippers’ offer is leading them out of the chase.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Clippers:

The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan, who has made All-NBA teams in the last three years. They also have Patrick Beverley whose dogged defense and quality spot-up 3-point shooting would fit well with LeBron James, and Beverley would be a lower-paid replacement for Irving at point guard. Their only player on a rookie-scale contract is Brice Johnson, who has disappointed. But they can still trade their 2022 and 2024 first-rounders, theoretically one to Cleveland and one to get a rookie-scale player already in the league.

Jordan would be a bad fit in a frontcourt that already includes Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and LeBron. But it seems a three-team trade could work.

Alas, if the Clippers have resigned themselves to not finding a three-team trade, that matters much more than whether one is plausible.

Kyrie Irving confidant, reportedly: "He’s saying he’s not about to let LeBron ‘SON’ him"

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In the wake of Kyrie Irving‘s trade request – clearly a reaction to LeBron James – I’ve often thought about the above video.

A reporter asked Irving how LeBron has been like a father to him. A clearly flabbergasted Irving responds: “He’s been a great leader for us. I wouldn’t – I have one father. That’s my dad, Drederick Irving.”

LeBron never called himself Irving’s father. LeBron didn’t direct the reporter to ask Irving that question.

But LeBron’s presence, his leadership, how he presents his leadership all led the reporter down that road. Even if LeBron, like the rest of us, would’ve cringed at the question, the mere fact that he plays on the same team as Irving made it so Irving was put into that awkward position.

So, there may or may not be personal animosity between Irving and LeBron. There could still be a disconnect between the Cavaliers’ biggest stars.

Stephen A. Smith of The Undefeated:

“Kyrie isn’t saying he’s better than LeBron and should be seen that way,” a close confidant of Irving’s told me. “He’s saying he’s not about to let LeBron ‘SON’ him … treating him like he’s the child and LeBron’s the father or big brother he’s supposed to look up to.

“Kyrie knows he’s a franchise-caliber talent. He wants to be treated like it. And he’s tired of hearing about what LeBron needs, and he’s damn sure tired of hearing LeBron sound like he always needs more. As if the crew they have isn’t enough.”

Is this about LeBron repeatedly saying the Cavs needed another point guard last season? He was clearly talking about a backup for Irving, not replacing Irving. Perhaps, Irving or someone close to him took it differently?

Or maybe LeBron makes even more noise behind the scenes about needing more.

He doesn’t have enough – not to have a reasonable chance of beating these Warriors. Irving and Kevin Love lead a strong supporting cast, but Golden State is one of the greatest teams of all time. For LeBron to win another title, he needs more. I don’t blame LeBron for pushing for it.

I also understand that – and so much else of what LeBron naturally invites – wearing on Irving.