Tag: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

DeMarcus Cousins

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Sacramento Kings


Last season: Another mired below mediocre for a Kings team that has been just awful for the past seven years. Sacramento finished with just 28 wins, good for 13th out of 15 teams in the West. The team was 29th out of 30 in defensive efficiency (only the Bobcats were worse), DeMarcus Cousins remained out of control emotionally, leading the league with 17 technical fouls and being suspended by his own team for internally struggling to fall in line with then-head coach Keith Smart.

The Kings fired that coach in the offseason, and gave Cousins a huge contract extension based solely on talent — which has been seen only in flashes, but is expected by most to materialize at some point in the future.

Last season’s signature highlight: A montage of Cousins being T’d up or ejected would be appropriate, but as always, let’s keep it positive. Fast forward to the 1:57 mark, and you’ll see what the Kings saw in Cousins to warrant that large contract extension — a raw and powerful skill set that allows him to get to the rim for powerful dunks seemingly at his choosing, no matter the defenders in his way.

Key player changes: The Kings appeared to improve from a personnel standpoint this summer, getting some young talent in place while ridding themselves of a former home-grown Rookie of the Year in Tyreke Evans.

  • IN: Carl Landry was signed in free agency, in a move meant to add some much-needed frontcourt depth, but he will now be out three-four months following hip surgery. Point guard Greivis Vasquez came over in the trade that sent Tyreke Evans to New Orleans, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was acquired via trade with the Bucks. Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum were respective first and second round draft picks this summer.
  • OUT: Sacramento wisely gave up on Evans, dealing him in a sign-and-trade instead of matching the three-year, $44 million offer he got from New Orleans. James Johnson (he of the game-winner against the Knicks) signed with the Hawks. Toney Douglas is now with the Warriors, and Cole Aldrich is with the Knicks.

Keys to the Kings season:

1) DeMarcus Cousins: The new ownership group of the Kings has made it clear that they view Cousins as the future face of the franchise, and backed up that statement by extending the talented but troubled power forward for four years and $62 million this summer. Cousins has said all the right things since then, but historically he’s had trouble keeping his commitments once the ball is tipped.

Sacramento was in a no-win situation with Cousins, so the max contract was essentially mandatory — fail to offer it, and Cousins has a reason to be mentally checked out. Give him those guaranteed dollars based on potential, and he may feel like he has nothing to prove, and could be content with berating officials and opposing players rather than focusing on helping his team from a basketball standpoint.

The Kings won’t win a lot of games this season, but the version of Cousins they get will go a long way in the franchise being able to build for the future. Despite the lack of expectations at the team level, this is a huge season for Cousins.

2) Greivis Vasquez: The newest point guard in town, and the one likely to earn the starting nod is going to be instrumental in the development of the Kings’ offense under new head coach Mike Malone. If Cousins is to be believed (and in this instance, he almost certainly is not), he’s never played for a coach with an offensive system. Vasquez is a more traditional point guard than Evans was and Isaiah Thomas is, and his ability to distribute consistently will go a long way in determining just how competitive Sacramento can be in most games this season.

3) Patience: Sacramento is going to be sub-.500 for the eighth consecutive season, and there isn’t anything that’s going to stop that. But once again there’s reason for optimism under a new head coach, a new ownership group, a newly-minted franchise player and a talented rookie class. As long as there is development and a direction associated with the team as the season progresses, things will be considered to be moving along as planned. But if Cousins regresses (or even repeats last season) and the new pieces don’t quite fit, it’ll be tempting for management to scramble once again to make drastic changes to turn things around.

At some point, you have to put the building blocks for success into place, and stick with a plan for longer than a season and a half. More than ever, that time in Sacramento is now.

Why you should watch: It’s always fun to get in on a ground floor opportunity, and one of these seasons, that’s exactly what this Kings franchise will be. And despite his temperament, Cousins remains one of the more talented big men in the game who at times showcases a powerful skill set that is matched by only a select few players around the league.

Prediction: Pain, and it would be disingenuous to paint it any other way. Sacramento will be bad again in terms of pure wins and losses, but it isn’t about that this season. If the team can develop into a cohesive unit, if Cousins matures into a leader on the floor and plays at an All-Star level that most feel he’s capable of, and if new head coach Mike Malone gains his players’ respect by grabbing hold of the team and implementing a system that works, then for the first time in years, the Kings’ season will be viewed as a success.

Sacramento’s Carl Landry out 3-4 months following hip surgery

Carl Landry

This is a blow to Sacramento — they went out and got Carl Landry this summer (along with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Greivis Vasquez) to provide some veteran stabilization behind their young core.

Now Landry is going to be out three to four months following surgery on a hip flexor, the team announced Monday. He suffered the injury during a training camp practice, according to the team. This puts his return into 2014 somewhere.

Landry can bang inside with a power game and has done that for years. Then last season in Golden State he added a midrange game, which made him far more dangerous on the pick-and-roll. Landry and Jarrett Jack (now in Cleveland) provided a real stability off the bench for the young Warriors. He averaged 10.8 points and 6 rebounds a game for Golden State last season.

Sacramento wanted that and went out paid Landry $26 million over four seasons this summer. The idea was to mix him in the rotation of DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes, and Patrick Patterson, and you had a nice frontcourt.

Now we are not going to see that mix until much closer to the All-Star break.

Report: Longtime NBA employee calls 2012-13 Bucks’ locker room worst he’d ever seen

Brandon Jennings

The Bucks have had one of the NBA’s busiest offseasons. They traded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ish Smith, waived Drew Gooden and Gustavo Ayon, let Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy Jr. walk in free agency and signed-and-traded Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick.

That’s most of the roster turned over, yet it’s not clear the Bucks made any progress. They’ve just replaced those eight with players of similar ability.

Why? Perhaps this is a clue.

Gery Woelfel of RacineSportsZone.com:

Without an assertive leader last season, the Bucks’ locker room was a cesspool. Players didn’t get along with each other. Players didn’t along with the coaches and vice versa.One longtime NBA employee who witnessed all the shenanigans told me it was the worst locker room he had ever observed.

Milwaukee certainly hopes it has progressed off the court, but it’s not just about dumping the troublemakers. It’s about adding players like Caron Butler, who recently organized a team dinner.Woelfel:

“I just wanted to get off to a good start with my teammates,” Butler said. “I think it was a good way to build camaraderie.“All the guys showed up and we had a great dinner and talked about expectations for the season together on and off the court.“It was a good session.”It was also a tad expensive. Often times when a group of athletes congregate for a night out on the town, they’ll throw their respective credit cards into a hat. The person whose credit card is withdrawn winds up picking the tab.Not this time. The only credit card that made its way on to the table was Butler’s.

Butler has talked about being a good leader, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is. I can’t claim to know exactly which players were causing problems last season, and subsequently, whether they’re among the jettisoned. But Butler has to be an improvement in the locker room, even if the Bucks are running in place on the court.

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Three

Last season: The Bucks went 38-44, reaching the playoffs despite a mid-season firing of Scott Skiles. Their high-scoring and high-shooting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis defined the team, but it was really as a team without a strong identity. Before the playoffs began, Jennings predicted the Bucks would beat the Heat in six games. Miami swept the series.

Signature highlight from last season: The terrible shot selection of Milwaukee’s starting backcourt finally paid off in the closing seconds of a February game in Houston. Brandon Jennings dribbled on the perimeter and off balance into a shot that even he realized was too bad to take. So, he passed to Monta Ellis, a bad-shot aficionado himself. Relying on all his bad-shot experience, Ellis delivered.

Key player changes: The Bucks were nothing if not busy this summer. Here’s the synopsis:

  • In: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nate Wolters, Carlos Delfino, O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia, Caron Butler, Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, Viacheslav Kravtsov, Luke Ridnour
  • Out: Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Viacheslav Kravtsov, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, J.J. Redick, Ish Smith, Gustavo Ayon, Drew Gooden

Yes, Kravtsov appears on both lists. Milwaukee was just wheeling and dealing like that.

Keys to the Bucks’ season:

1) How good do the Bucks want to be/how good can their point guards let them be? Third-year point guard Brandon Knight frequently struggled with turnovers in Detroit the last two years, so extremely that it had a big negative effect on the Pistons’ offense. If Knight makes a jump in ability, the Bucks have no problem. Their top point guard will also be their point guard with the most potential, and that’s easy.

If not, Milwaukee must decide between Knight (the sometimes erratic point guard who needs experience to get better, but would mean more losses this season) and Luke Ridnour (the steady veteran who has nowhere to go but down, but will mean a little more short-term success). It could be a direction-defining decision.

2) Are any recently signed free agents underpaid? Why did the Bucks sign O.J. Mayo ($8 million per year), Zaza Pachulia ($5.2 million per year), Carlos Delfino ($3.25 million per year) and Gary Neal ($3.25 million per year)? I can’t pretend to know the exact answer to that question, because it doesn’t’ make the most sense, but I’m guessing Milwaukee didn’t want to pass on available value. Those four players might not generate a playoff berth, but if they’re underpaid, it’s easier for the Bucks to trade them or upgrade the team elsewhere next summer.

3) Can Larry Sanders be a good team’s best player? Second best? Sanders’ four-year, $44 million extension makes him, barring other moves, Milwaukee’s highest-paid player in 2014-15 and beyond. He’s a defensive force, but not quite in the discussion as one the NBA’s very best defenders. Offensively, he’s more limited. He’s a very nice player to have, and the Bucks definitely paid enough to ensure they have him. As he grows from his breakout season, we’ll get a better sense of just how good Sanders can be.

Why you should watch the Bucks: You won’t understand Larry Sanders’ value by looking at just his common statistics. Watch Milwaukee, and you’ll get a better sense of how he impacts the game defensively. Otherwise, this is a blah bad team, and I don’t have much here.

Prediction: Bucks in six. 33-49. The Bucks will be OK. Probably not OK enough to make the playoffs, but they have at least an outside chance. Probably not bad enough to land a premier draft pick, either, but they have at least an outside chance.

The Bucks are very different from last season. Yet, they’re very much the same.

Iguodala says he seriously considered Kings but they put him on deadline

Andre Iguodala

It was one of the stranger moves of the off-season — Sacramento made a very nice four-year, $52 million offer to Andre Iguodala then a few days later yanked the offer.

It all worked out, Iguodala took a little less money ($48 million over four years) to land in Golden State.

Now he’s telling his side of the story — he said he was seriously considering the Kings but wanted time to look at a number of teams, and the Kings wanted an answer fast and gave him a deadline. Iggy spoke to Scott Howard-Cooper about the entire process.

Iguodala just didn’t want to be put on the clock. He was, he said, strongly considering the Kings, but was not ready to make a decision. The Kings wanted him to be ready and gave a quick deadline, soon followed by pulling the offer when they had at least a day and maybe longer before actually needing an answer….

“When you’re dealing with deadlines as a player, it’s not really a positive thing to say, ‘All right, they’re giving me a deadline,’ ” Iguodala said. “You don’t want to really get into deadlines. We had really good conversations and I was close. After the first day, they were in the top three teams, top two teams. I think with (new owner) Vivek (Ranadive) coming from (the Warriors) ownership group and going out on his own and getting a team, he has a really good vision of what he wants to build in Sacramento. That vision was really attractive. I was almost close to going there.”

Almost close.

The Kings have still had a nice offseason (they got Carl Landry, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Greivis Vasquez) as they start to rebuild what the Maloofs had done to the place before leaving. But Iggy would have been a big splash, a big sign of how serious they were.

The Kings thought if Iggy was really serious about them the decision would have been nearly instant. He wanted to be more deliberate. It may not have worked out, but would it have killed the Kings to be a little more patient here?