RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Vlade Divac of Serbia watches during the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Why did Kings get so little for Cousins? Lakers not willing to part with Ingram sign of soft market

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Back in 2015 there was already a push from people inside the Sacramento Kings organization to move on from the DeMarcus Cousins era. There were groundwork talks with a number of teams, but a lot of rumors circulated around the Lakers, where Jim Buss was trying to land a star for his franchise that would lead to a quick turnaround. While the deal was never finalized, reports had the Lakers offering both their first round picks that year, which became D'Angelo Russell (No. 2) and Larry Nance Jr. (27th), plus a few other pieces.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive shot the deal down then — as he did with every deal until Sunday night.

By the tine Ranadive came around to the idea of trading Cousins, the market had changed. And dried up. All the Kings landed was last draft’s No. 6 pick Buddy Hield (who Vlade Divac has been higher on than most), the Pelicans pick this draft in the mid-teens, a high second round pick, and some pieces such as Tyreke Evans that are not part of the Kings’ future.

The deal has been widely panned for the Kings, but what they got may well have been the best offer available right now. A lot of teams have concerns about Cousins’ impact on their locker rooms — teams that liked their rosters didn’t want to add drama. Plenty of teams would not talk trade. Also, there is a glut of bigs on the market right now. If teams wanted to give up multiple first-round picks for a center, they could have already because Nets have Brook Lopez on the block — not as talented, but also not a challenge in the locker room. Jahlil Okafor, Tyson Chandler and other centers also are available.

The Kings went back to the Lakers, but when they asked for the young guy the Lakers are highest on, Brandon Ingram, it fell apart, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report added this interesting tidbit about the Kings and Lakers talks in recent days.

Then Buss, in particular, was sorely tempted to shift course yet again Sunday, break from those plans and trade whatever youth it took in the hopes of landing DeMarcus Cousins, according to a team source.

It wasn’t just the Lakers who would not go in big on Cousins.

Calls to Boston found even worse offers, with Danny Ainge worried about Cousins’ impact in the locker room and if they could/would want to retain him. The Booklyn picks were never close to on the table.

Philly is no longer really interested thanks to Joel Embiid (even with the health concerns there).

There were talks with the Suns, but Sacramento didn’t like Brandon Knight as the best player they would get back.

And so it goes down the list, teams were hesitant to give up much and the Kings were left to take the best of bad options. Part of the reason for the Cousins market being dry is that since he is traded, Cousins is no longer eligible for the “designated player” supermax deal, and the difference between what the team that has his Bird rights in 2018 can offer and what other teams can offer is not that great. Which is to say, a lot of teams think they can take a swing at Cousins as a free agent in two summers if they really want him, and they don’t have to give up assets to get him.

The Pelicans were never going to get a seat at the table in those free agent conversations, so trading for him makes a lot of sense for New Orleans.

But for most teams, they were willing to pass. Which left the Kings without good options for a deadline trade.

Of course, what a more stable organization might have done is decide the offers were terrible and hold off on a trade until around the draft or into summer free agency. The deals are not going to get worse, and they might well get a little better. But for whatever reason — concern that Ranadive would change his mind, again? — the Kings moved now.

And that leaves them in a tough spot.

 

Rumor: Kings reignite trade talks for DeMarcus Cousins; Cousins agent denies

AUBURN HILLS, MI - JANUARY 23: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings looks on while playing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on January 23, 2017 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Sacramento won the game 109-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Sacramento Kings may be looking to move center Boogie Cousins. Stop me if you’ve heard this rumor before.

According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kings management has reportedly engaged in talks during All-Star Weekend to move the talented, fiery center.

If moved, Boogie would be the biggest player dealt thus far this season.

Via Twitter:

It didn’t take long for Cousin’s agent to try and kill those rumors.

That Cousin’s agent denies it doesn’t make it false, however, this move would be a huge change of directions for the Kings organization.

It may also be one they may need to consider. The Kings have said they would offer Cousins the “designated player” max extension (likely around at $213 million over five seasons), and Cousins has said he would sign it. If the Kings really wanted to make him happy, they could do a Russell Westbrook style renegotiation of his contract for the coming season, then have the extension kick in after that (Boogie would sign that, too). However, do that and they have no cap space to bring in players around Cousins, they stay the same team they are right now for years.

The Kings have been reluctant at times to even engage in discussions with teams, in part because owner Vivek Ranadive doesn’t want to move the big man knowing they will go a decade before getting a player that talented on the roster again. The Kings were frustrated when former coach George Karl was insistent on moving him, and they dismissed interest from both the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

But there’s also been recent talks around Boogie and the Phoenix Suns, and the situation from an outside-of-California view seems to be ripe for a split.

Cousins, for as good as he’s been, has not shown he’s enough to take the team into the playoffs. Kings management, meanwhile, has been an absolute disaster during his time there and has not done much to compliment him. The relationship seems to have soured, even as owner Ranadive has backed Cousins.

Whatever the outcome, if Cousins gets traded by the Feb. 23 deadline it will go down as one of the biggest mid-season moves this season. It’s going to be hard for Sacramento to move on from a franchise player like Boogie, but perhaps it’s time to look for a different path. For Cousins, a breath of fresh air and a little help might put his career in a new perspective as well.

Going big: Kristaps Porzingis wins Skills Challenge (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Kristaps Porzingis was a half step behind Gordon Hayward as they shot their layups in the Skills Challenge, but the 7-foot-3 Knicks forward had an advantage as each player’s ball fell through the hoop.

“I kind of cheated a little bit,” Porzingis said. “I grabbed the ball before him, because I’m taller. And then I just kept running.”

Porzingis kept his advantage, hitting a 3-pointer on the other end to win the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. He’s the second big man to win in the two years larger players participated, joining 2016 winner Karl-Anthony Towns.

 

 

In an event thought to favor guards considering the emphasis on ball-handling, passing, speed and shooting, the bigs are making their mark. Even Gordon Hayward, a forward shoehorned into the guard division won that to meet Porzingis in the final. But the bigger Porzingis was too quick.

“It’s a good feeling I’m able to showcase my skill with my size,” Porzingis said.

It’s a new era for NBA bigs. What’s next for Porzingis on All-Star Saturday Night?

“Slam dunk competition? For sure not,” Porzingis said. “Maybe one day 3-pointers.”

 

Complete results

Quarterfinals

Gordon Hayward over John Wall

Isaiah Thomas over Devin Booker

Kristaps Porzingis over DeMarcus Cousins

Nikola Jokic over Anthony Davis

Semifinals

Gordon Hayward over Isaiah Thomas

Kristaps Porzingis over Nikola Jokic

Final

Kristaps Porzingis over Gordon Hayward

Devin Booker throws three-quarter court alley-oop to Karl-Anthony Towns (VIDEO)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 17:  Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball in the second half against the World Team during the 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at Smoothie King Center on February 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — Defense? We don’t play no stinkin’ defense.

As it is ever year, that was the motto of the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Friday night. It doesn’t lead to good basketball, it does lead to good highlights.

Such as the Suns’ Devin Booker tossing a three-quarter court alley-oop to Karl-Anthony Towns. You don’t get to see that every day.

If you actually care, the world team beat the USA team 150-141. And if you care, you need to re-examine your life.

Report: Pacers make 2017 first rounder available in effort to get Paul George help

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One of the things dragging down the trade market with just more than a week to go before the trade deadline is nobody wants to give up a first-round pick in the coming draft. The 2017 draft is seen as deep with talent, and general managers are not making their picks available.

Except for the Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers.

They want to make a win-now move and are making their pick available, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

In an attempt to secure help for All-Star forward Paul George, the Indiana Pacers have made their 2017 first-round pick available in a trade, league sources said.

In what is considered to be a deep draft, the Pacers are hoping that such an asset would translate to the addition of either an established wing or established frontline player, according to sources.

While the Pacers want to stop their six-game losing streak that has them sliding down the East standings, this move has another big-picture motive — keeping George a Pacer.

George can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2017-18 season. The Pacers have a small window to provide him with a championship-type supporting cast. And whether he signs an extension this summer probably will be predicated on the moves the franchise can execute up to that point.

There is one other factor in George re-signing with the Pacers: If he makes an All-NBA team this season he will qualify for the “designated player” super-max contract that could weigh in at five-years, $209 million (exact figures will depend on the final cap number for the 2018-19 season, the first year the extension would kick in). If he didn’t qualify and the Pacers gave him a five-year extension it would be about $179 million over five years, while other teams could give him four years at $133 million guaranteed (but he would make money in that fifth year eventually, bringing him close but not all the way up to $179 million).

All of which is to say, if he qualifies for the designated player contract and the Pacers offer it, he’s not going anywhere regardless of who is around him.

But the trade will come first. If there is a trade (the Pacers are not going to want to take a lot of salary back on this deal, they are already at $90 million this season). There are a lot of bigs available — Brook Lopez of the Nets will cost more than this pick, but would this high-teens pick be enough to get someone like Danilo Gallinari out of Denver? It likely could get them Lou Williams from the Lakers, but does he fit the Pacers’ needs? Not exactly. Is it overpaying for P.J. Tucker in Phoenix? The Trail Blazers have some overpaid wings that may be available, if the Pacers like any of them.

Nothing may come of this, but it’s worth watching