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Kings’ Omri Casspi denies he requested trade

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With the Kings off to a bit of a slow start, the rumors of potential trades have started — Willie Cauley-Stein‘s name came up, and Shaquille O’Neal dropped DeMarcus Cousins hints.

The other name that hit the rumor mill in Sacramento Omri Casspi, with reports he requested a trade.

Casspi denied that to James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

“Zero truth to that. Zero,” Casspi told CSN California via text.

According to multiple sources, Casspi’s agent met with the Kings this week to discuss his role with the team. But he did not request a trade at that time.

Casspi’s role with the Kings has declined under new coach Dave Joerger, he’s playing 12 fewer minutes a night. A hip injury was part of what set him back, but he hasn’t earned the trust of the coach more than Anthony Tolliver and others.

It’s possible the Kings will consider moving him, but not in the short term. If he does go on the market in a serious way, there will be interest, other GMs think he just needs a new setting.

Damian Lillard on Portland’s Trump protests: “Tearing apart your own city” doesn’t help

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From Los Angeles to New York and in blue states across the nation, there have been protests in the wake of Donald Trump winning the election and becoming president-elect. Cities with large minority communities, in particular, have seen frustration and large-scale protests (in New York the protest landed at the door of Trump Tower in Manhattan).

But the only real violence happened at protests in Portland. There, according to police, demonstrators used bats to smash store windows and cars, others lit fires, and on Saturday one protestor was shot (no arrest as of yet). Police have called the situation a “riot,” and over the past few days more than 45 people have been arrested.

Damian Lillard hopes the violence will stop, as he told Chris Haynes of ESPN.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that people have done some of the things they have done during the protest. A lot of harm and damage has been done,” Lillard told ESPN on Saturday. “I do understand their frustration, and I commend people wanting to come together for some kind of change. Tearing apart your own city just isn’t the place to begin, and also making your own city less of a safe place isn’t the answer….

“Portland has been a great place since I’ve been here and long before, but this type of activity doesn’t even seem to fit the description of Portland,” Lillard said. “Especially when the majority of the people here voted for Hillary. So if this is an anti-Trump rally, then you’re probably harming the people that you side with in most cases. So again I share the same worry, but I don’t think this is the solution.”

Watch James Harden’s latest triple-double for Houston

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It was impressive. It wasn’t enough.

Above you can see above, James Harden racked up another triple-double Saturday night — 25 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds. That’s two in a row for him against San Antonio. How good is he for Houston? When he is off the court their offense is 33 points per 100 possessions worse (it is abysmal).

The Spurs took advantage of that Saturday and got the win, splitting the two games they played against each other this week.

Another night, another 30+ point performance from DeMar DeRozan (VIDEO)

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The NBA’s leading scorer is not Russell Westbrook, nor is it James Harden or Anthony Davis (all of whom are putting up big numbers).

It’s DeMar DeRozan, and he dropped 33 Saturday night in the Raptors win against the Knicks — the eighth time in nine games this season he’s had 30 or more points in a game. He didn’t do it by adding a three-point shot, DeRozan is just killing it from the midrange this season.

DeRozan shotchart

According to Synergy Sports, DeRozan is getting 53.8 percent of his shots either as the pick-and-roll ball handler or in isolation, and nearly half of his shots are off the dribble, where he is shooting 53.7 percent.

Is that kind of midrange shooting sustainable for a full season? I wouldn’t bet on it, but so far he keeps hitting the looks.

Shaquille O’Neal suggests Kings frustrated with DeMarcus Cousins, may move on

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DeMarcus Cousins has been everything you expect of him this season. That means a guy averaging 26.6 points and 8.6 rebounds, a guy who can bully opponents in the paint or hit a three, a guy who has the Kings 14 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.

That also means a guy who has picked up three technical fouls in 11 games, been fined by the league once, and in another game picked up six fouls in one quarter.

Shaquille O’Neal is a minority owner of the Kings and also part of the barbershop that is Inside the NBA on TNT. When they started talking Kings Thursday — around the election talk — Shaq said some interesting things (first noted by Matt Moore over at CBS).

“In the previous years, he’s been hot-headed, he hasn’t shown great leadership qualities,” O’Neal said. Furthermore, O’Neal said that the team may actually look to trade Cousins if the situation doesn’t improve.

“I’m hearing talk that if things don’t start to become correct, then they may be looking in another direction.”

Three notes here.

First, the sense around the league is that the Kings want to give new coach Dave Joerger a real chance to make it work with Cousins, and they don’t want to trade their star player their first year in the new building.

Second, when teams do check the temperature of the Cousins trade interest, Sacramento’s asking price is ridiculously high.

Third, a lot of executives believe the Kings should consider a move at the deadline and deal Cousins while he has a year-and-a-half on his contract because there is more value (he is a 2018 free agent). Wait until this summer and he could be a rental and teams will offer less in a trade.

Shaq is paid to spout loud opinions, but he is a minority owner of the team — and the Kings minority owners have been a leaky group with their own agendas at times. Primary owner Vivek Ranadive is maybe Cousins’ biggest supporter in the organization, which makes a trade less likely. But at 4-7 to start the season, the Kings don’t look like a playoff team (again, it’s been a decade), and if they are on the outside looking in there are some big decisions to make.

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