Kings’ Cousins demands trade… or did he? Sacramento is a mess.

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UPDATE 8:53 pm: Here is coach Paul Westphal’s pregame quote to the media and comments about the Cousins situation, via NBA.com.

“He can only have so many chances and something has to be done.  And it’s time something has to be done.”  Westphal is not sure if Cousins will travel with the team on their two game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Memphis.  He did say that Cousins needed to do some “soul searching” and that he hopes that, “DeMarcus has a change of heart and joins up with full reinstatement, that’s really up to him and I hope that.”

7:30 pm: We knew there were problems in Sacramento, but we didn’t realize that “black hole-like implosion” was going to be an accurate term.
DeMarcus Cousins has demanded a trade, coach Paul Westphal said in a statement. That is something Cousin’s agent denied to Sports Illustrated.

All we do know for sure is Cousins has been told to stay home as the Kings host the Hornets Sunday. Here is Westphal’s statement.

“Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction. As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life!

As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.

Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public. This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.

DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight.”

The coach, who has a running feud with the player, is releasing statements and not the GM and/or team president? Interesting situation in Sacramento. And if Cousins doesn’t want to travel in the same direction as this struggling team, is that a bad thing?

By releasing this statement and sitting him, the Kings have publicly put Cousins on the market.

Cousins’ agent John Greig said there was no trade demand to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick:

“DeMarcus never demanded a trade. I’m surprised the Kings, if they believe the player wanted… a trade, wouldn’t have made a phone call to his representative. Maybe Westphal is just feeling the heat early this season.”

Yea, all this is going to help rally the hard working people of Sacramento behind the team and keep the Kings in the California capital.

Cousins had been frustrated pretty much since he got to the Kings with how he was being used in the offense. He has clashed with Westphal and the coaching staff repeatedly and was suspended by the team from games because of it. His fit with Tyreke Evans was not developing, although how much of that was on them and how much was on Westphal is up for debate. There are a lot of people who can shoulder blame for a lot of things in Sacramento.

Cousins, just starting his second season, is a good big man with the potential to be very good, but there are plenty of questions around the league about his focus, maturity and work ethic. He is strong, a very good rebounder and has some skills around the rim (although he has struggled with that this season, shooting just 36.4 percent inside three feet and a terrible 32 percent overall, but he keeps shooting a lot). His defense has great potential but needs work. The general consensus can be summed up in a quote from Bull Durham, “million dollar body and a five cent head.”

Which leads to a question of how much the Kings can really get for him? If I were GM of a rebuilding team that had a long way to go I’d consider putting in an offer (I’m looking at you, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers) but I wouldn’t offer actually valuable pieces going forward. Picks would be top 10 protected, players would not be near the potential that Cousins has. If the Kings trade him, they will not get equal value. But maybe that is worth it to them right now.

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.