Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins’ response to latest trade rumors: “Blah blah blah”

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Nobody seems to be as sick of DeMarcus Cousins’ trade rumors as DeMarcus Cousins.

Those rumors are not going anywhere in the short-term. The latest ones came from Howard Beck in a post at Bleacher Report in a video about guys who start the season on the trade block:

“Sacramento, I think, wants to hold onto him. Certainly the onwer Vivek Ranadive absolutely wants to hold onto DeMarcus Cousins. But I’ve been told if you polled the rest of the organization, the vast majority are in favor of trading DeMarcus Cousins and that would include, though he denies it, coach George Karl.”

Cousins’ reaction to this?

Then that was quickly echoed by the Kings’ front office.

The Kings are not going to trade Cousins in the short term. It’s just not going to happen — if your biggest supporter in the organization is the owner, you’re in a position of power.

Can Cousins and Karl get along? That remains to be seen. But if the players can be unified — even if it is in opposition to Karl — this is a team with some real talent and some potential, even in a deep West.

That all starts with Cousins as a cornerstone piece. Which is why you don’t trade him.

Report: Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas nearing four-year, $60 million contract extension

Raptors Media Day
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Big men in the NBA get paid.

Jonas Valanciunas is a big man — officially 7’1″, 255 pounds — who is a skilled scorer near the basket (he averaged 12 points a game on 57 percent shooting last season). He’s got some holes in his game (he’s not a great rim protector, his passing needs work) but still big men get paid.

And he’s going to get paid with a healthy contract extension to his rookie deal, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Although he’s taking a little less than I expected.

The two sides had until Nov. 1 to get a deal done, but they got it done early.

Because he’s a big and next summer around 20 NBA teams may have max salary money (thanks to the coming spike in the salary cap from the new television deal), it was possible he would push for a max contract extension, which would have started at around $19 million per year. If he had waited until next summer, he would have gotten the max from somebody.

However, like a lot of players did this summer, Valanciunas appears willing to take a little less (although still a large sum) for the security of getting it done and staying in a situation he likes. It’s the bird in the hand theory, and when you saw the rash of injuries around the league last year it’s understandable. He’s about to make the kind of money that sets a family up for generations, you can’t fault him for wanting to lock that down now.

On the court, the Raptors tweaked their roster this summer to become more defensive minded, bringing in DeMarre Carroll for example. But for it all to work on both ends Valanciunas is going to have to take a step forward. He has to become a better defensive presence in the paint. He has to diversify his offensive game.

He’s got to play like a guy who deserves the extension he is about to land.

Kobe Bryant uses classic video to respond to critics (he means you, Charles Barkley)

2015 BET Experience - Genius Talks Presented By AT&T
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Charles Barkley gets paid handsomely to give his unfiltered opinions, and he did just that about Kobe Bryant recently:

“I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players just out there, you know? Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, that didn’t do anything for me. Kobe’s obviously not going to walk away from $30 million. This should be like a farewell tour, play 20, 25 minutes a night. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. Could he play some more? Yeah, of course. His best days are behind him. I hear these fools on TV, talking about, ‘Kobe’s going to get healthy.’ Old people don’t get healthy; they die. Old people don’t get healthy. Father Time is undefeated.”

Kobe took to Twitter to respond, and while he didn’t mention any names we pretty much know who he was talking about.

First off, very savvy response from Kobe. That’s how you fire back on Twitter.

Second, nothing scares Kobe. Ever.

source:

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics
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EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

CROATIA
Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

FRANCE
Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

GERMANY
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

GREECE
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

ITALY
Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

ISRAEL
Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

LITHUANIA
Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

POLAND
Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA
Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

SERBIA
Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

SPAIN
Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

TURKEY
Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

UKRAINE
Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)

Charles Barkley on Kobe Bryant: “This should be like a farewell tour”

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers
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Kobe Bryant isn’t going to let injuries determine when his career ends — he wants to go out on his own terms. After playing just 41 games the past two seasons due to injury, Bryant will be back in Lakers’ purple (Forum Blue, if you prefer) and providing tough love to a young team this season. This team, this franchise is still his.

After this season, he doesn’t know.

He’s talked about retiring after this season, but he could play in the Rio Olympics in 2016, or play overseas, or maybe return for another NBA season. While the ultra-competitive Kobe has set up an interesting post-basketball life, walking away from the game is never easy.

Charles Barkley hopes he does — he wants this to be Bryant’s last season, he told Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine on SiriusXM NBA Radio last Friday (hat tip Fox Sports).

“I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players just out there, you know?” Barkley said. “Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, that didn’t do anything for me. Kobe’s obviously not going to walk away from $30 million. This should be like a farewell tour, play 20, 25 minutes a night. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. Could he play some more? Yeah, of course. His best days are behind him. I hear these fools on TV, talking about, ‘Kobe’s going to get healthy.’ Old people don’t get healthy; they die. Old people don’t get healthy. Father Time is undefeated. … You can get in great shape in the summer, because you’re playing against air. Air doesn’t hit back.”

Kobe probably has that quote pinned on his bathroom mirror so he sees it every morning. That is his fuel.

It’s impossible to predict what Kobe will do at the end of the season because even Kobe doesn’t know. Can he stay healthy for a season? He’s keeping his options open for a reason. My guess is he leaves the game — it’s a lot of work to get his body ready for an NBA season right now, and if you’re not in the Tim Duncan space where you’re still competing for rings, is it worth the effort? But we don’t know for sure, and if he wants to come back the Buss family will pay him handsomely to do so.

Kobe would love to prove Charles Barkley wrong, and then remind him of it.