Kurt Helin

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

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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.

Watch Rockets erase 12-point deficit in two minutes, they go on to beat Wolves in OT

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Minnesota had Saturday night’s game in hand, ahead of Houston 93-81 with 2:10 left in the contest.

But as you can see for yourself above, the Rockets went on a late 14-2 run to tie the game and force overtime against a scrambling Timberwolves defense. Eventually, the Rockets went on to win their 10th straight game in the extra period, 111-109. The real key to the Rockets double-digit win streak? They are allowing 98.4 points per 100 possessions on defense, second best in the NBA in that stretch. They are up to 14th in the NBA overall and have played fairly well on that end since the return of Patrick Beverley.

James Harden had 28 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds, while Ryan Anderson led the way for the Rockets with 29.

Sixers honor Allen Iverson, celebrate his entry into Hall of Fame (VIDEOS)

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Allen Iverson, Hall of Famer.

No player has ever taken the court and given more of himself than The Answer, who fearlessly drove into the paint — into the forest of trees near the rim in the NBA — and found ways to score. Philadelphia fans loved him, and Iverson loved them back. Even if it wasn’t always smooth, the love was there.

You could feel that in the arena in Philly Saturday night, when Iverson was honored for entering the Hall of Fame. Dr. J was there to hand him the jacket. The fans were chanting MVP. And Iverson was his genuine self, including before the game when discussing his weight lifting efforts (or lack thereof).

You can see Iverson’s speech above, below you can watch the entire halftime ceremony.

Nerlens Noel on Sixers big man rotation: “They need to figure this s— out”

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Nerlens Noel has played in all of two games since missing the first 23 of the season following knee surgery, and already he’s livid about his lack of playing time.

Noel played just 8:02 — all the minutes in the first half — in the Sixers’ sloppy loss Friday night to a Lakers team that had lost eight in a row coming in. Noel came in off the bench and was largely paired with Ersan Ilyasova as the other big, he was never paired with Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor.

After the game, Noel ripped his use by coach Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I just want to play basketball,” Noel said in response to whether or not he wanted to be paired with another center. “I don’t really care who I’m playing with. I’m not an eight-minute player so I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s— out.”

Brown said that the Lakers started to go small, which forced him to sit big men and match up, leaving Noel glued to the bench for the final 24 minutes. Noel played a little more than 10 minutes in his season debut against Detroit Sunday, until he rolled his ankle and was taken out (he did not play in the next game against Toronto due to that ankle).

Noel has complained before about the crowded Sixers frontcourt and has reportedly pushed to be traded. GM Bryan Colangelo has reportedly shopped him around.

But here’s the thing: Teams aren’t eager to bring in a guy they see as a chemistry problem. A guy with bad body language who complains about his minutes, a man whose work habits they question. Which is exactly what is happening now. Noel is in a tough situation, but he has responded immaturely. Teams see all this, see his complaining, and try to lowball the Sixers on any potential deal. Which makes one less likely to get done. Meaning Noel stays longer in a situation where he’s not happy, which seems to exacerbate the body language and other issues. And now we have a cycle.

At some point, the Sixers are going to move Noel and/or Jahlil Okafor (Noel is a restricted free agent next summer and the Sixers aren’t going to spend much to match in that setting, so they want to make a deal). But Noel isn’t helping the situation any by venting like this. It also doesn’t make Brown want to play him more.

Markieff Morris rejects twin brother Marcus in transition (VIDEO)

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Remember how Markieff Morris reacted when Phoenix traded his twin brother Marcus Morris, splitting up the pair that had played together at Kansas and before? Apparently, he’s adapted to the new reality.

Marcus is in Detroit now, and when the Pistons took on the Wizards he was out on the break and decided to attack the rim since there was only one defender back. Turns out to be Markieff. And make no mistake, Markieff got the best of this meeting.

Washington got the win 122-108 behind 29 from John Wall and 25 from Bradley Beal. The Wizards have won four of five.