Tag: Marcus Cousin

Kobe Bryant

PBT Extra: Pacific Division Preview

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The Pacific Division is fascinating this season. It has a genuine contender (Clippers, I’m higher on them than most), a team trying to get to that level (Warriors), a team that thinks it is better than it is (Lakers), a rebuilding team with one key piece (Kings) and a team all in for the lottery (Phoenix).

It is also a division with great players for Kay Adams and I to talk about in our division preview — Eric Bledsoe, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and of course Kobe Bryant.  We touch on all of them and a few others. And yes, the Clippers will win this division again.

Damian Lillard drops 23 on Kings in second half (VIDEO)

Kings Trail Blazers Basketball
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Damian Lillard came out of the locker room at halftime Sunday night and decided “I’m going to own this preseason game.” He then proceeded to drop 16 points on Sacramento in the third quarter (14 of those in a spurt that lasted about four minutes), and had 23 of his 28 in the second half as the Trail Blazers won 109-105.

Lillard started out slow, hitting just one shot in the first half, but he was getting looks he liked. The Kings rested DeMarcus Cousins and it showed as Lillard met letting resistance in the paint when he drove, then was hitting threes as well. Lillard finished 8-of-19 shooting  and 4-of-9 from three.

Hat tip SLAM.

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins

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.

DeMarcus Cousins speaks highly of Keith Smart. So far.

Keith Smart, DeMarcus Cousins

In just his second season in the league, DeMarcus Cousins has a reputation in some quarters as hard to deal with and a coach killer. Fair or not, it’s out there.

Paul Westphal is out and Keith Smart — who went from a nearly impossible situation in Golden State (due to an ownership change) to a nearly impossible one in Sacramento — is in. Right at the top of the list of job priorities is for Smart to gain the respect of Cousins, the talented big man who could anchor that franchise for years.

So far, so good. At least that’s what you take away from Cousin’s comments to the USA Today.

“Everything has been positive right now. Coach isn’t scared to speak his mind. He’s going to tell the truth. He’s going to tell you how it should be and how it’s not going to be. He sets his guidelines and we all go by them. That’s something that we needed from the beginning. Coach is going to be real. If you mess up he’s going to tell you, ‘You messed up.’ That’s all we needed from the beginning.”

So you didn’t have that structure under Westphal?

“We didn’t, honestly. And it showed.”

You’re starting to see some more motion and other changes to the Kings offense, even if that has not been reflected in the win column. This is a team with a long way to go. But at least the attitude seems better in the locker room. That’s a good beginning.

Monday And-1 links: Schedule wearing everyone down

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics
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Welcome to our look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Is fatigue setting in for the Chicago Bulls? Maybe a little, but it is the same for every team.

Yao Ming is getting into politics in China.

Michal Jordan’s high school coach has been arrested after a dead body was found in his home.

The Celtics Chris Wilcox will miss the next three to four games with a calf injury.

Worse yet for Boston, Paul Pierce admits he is not 100 percent.

Stephen Curry wants to return from his sprained ankle on Tuesday.

The Knicks have some serious issues to work out.

Golden State could use another big man, but the team is not going to go after Andray Blatche. Smart choice.

DeMarcus Cousins did not go after a camera man in the locker room, and the mild stuff that did happen was egged on by said camera man.

Sorry Lakers fans, but you shouldn’t expect any roster shakeups soon.

As bad as the Wizards’ offense has been this season, there is plenty of reasons to still believe in John Wall.

Lakers coach Mike Brown wants the league to review Blake Griffin’s push of Darius Morris during their game Saturday.

The Nuggets have recalled Jordan Hamilton from the D-League.

One site’s opinion of the best NBA team blogs for every squad.