The team’s suspension was ended but that apparently doesn’t mean DeMarcus Cousins is back with the Kings.
Cousins practiced with the team on Monday but is not with the team now in Portland for a Wednesday night game, tweets Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. (Tyreke Evans is out as well as he recovers from a sore left knee.)
Why? It’s simply coach Keith Smart’s call and he said that Cousins was clear to practice but that was different than playing in a game. Draw your own conclusions. Cousins apparently had a few words with an assistant coach during a Christmas Eve practice but it didn’t appear to be major. This could still be residual from the last argument at half time, a profanity-laced tirade that got Cousins suspended by the team.
The Kings won their one game so far without Cousins, a 108-96 win over Portland.
As has been noted before, Smart essentially got this job because he had a good relationship with Cousins, a guy the Kings think could be a franchise player. Other teams agree he has the talent but few are interested in doing a fair trade for him (if any at all) because of concerns about his behavior and how he’ll fit in the locker room.
Cousins switched agents as well to Dan Fegan. Who was the guy who brought us the Dwightmare in Orlando. So, expect more fireworks down the line.
Vince Carter is 42 years old. He’s more than a decade older than all his Hawks teammates. He was drafted before Atlanta point guard Trae Young was even born.
Yet, after all these years, Carter is still starting in the NBA.
JuliaKate E. Culpepper of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Rookie Trae Young will start his first regular-season NBA game alongside expected starters Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Vince Carter and Alex Lin.
When Atlanta visits the Knicks tomorrow, that will make Carter – 41 years and 264 days old – the second-oldest opening-game starter ever. Only Robert Parish – who was 42 years and 65 days old with the 1995 Hornets – was older.
Here’s every opening-game start by a player over 40:
Don’t expect Carter to challenge Parish’s record next year. Carter said he’ll probably retire after this season. Even if he bucks the odds to play again, odds are strongly against him being on a team that’d start him.
But tomorrow will give Carter one more accomplishment in his incredible career.
We picked the Celtics, Raptors, 76ers and Bucks to be the top four teams in the Eastern Conference this year and ranked the Wizards and Pacers next. If that’s not the consensus, it’s close to it.
Wizards guard Austin Rivers, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com:
“I think we’re heavily slept-on,” he tells me. “Team’s been to the playoffs, what, the last five, four or five years? Then going into this year, you add me, Dwight Howard, Jeff Green and nobody seems to talk about us. So I just think we’re heavily slept-on, but that’s fine. At the end of the day, nothing really matters until the season starts and we set that tone for ourselves. I get the hype of a couple of the other teams, but I think we have a chance to compete with the best of the East.”
I tell him I recently spoke to Tyreke Evans, who said something similar about the Indiana Pacers. Rivers gets more animated.
“Yeah, I would say Indiana’s the other team that gets slept-on, too,” he says. “You look at Indiana, they took Cleveland to seven games and then damn near, arguably could have beaten them.”
Rivers rattles off Evans’ stats from last season, then continues: “That’s who they just added to the team? And nobody seems to talk about the Pacers because everybody’s so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers. And rightfully so: they’re both talented teams. But Indiana is just as good as both those teams. And I think we’re in the same situation.”
I agree the Wizards and Pacers had positive offseasons. But Indiana might have been punching slightly above its weight as a surprise team last year, and Washington’s problem has often been overconfidence.
In that regard, Rivers – acquired in an offseason trade from the Clippers – is already fitting right in. The brashness might be good for Rivers, but it’s not what the Wizards need.
Washington could have a good season. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are a strong starting point in the Eastern Conference, and Dwight Howard could help with the right attitude and health. Rivers is a quality reserve. But let’s pump the brakes on calling Jeff Green a key addition, though Rivers would be only one of many – including someone in his immediate family – to make that error.
Klay Thompson, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has said many times he plans to stay with the Warriors. He even discussed signing a contract extension, which would have capped his compensation far below what he could get in free agency.
But Thompson is apparently no longer interested in offering Golden State that savings.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
Thompson has no plans to take a discount, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, league sources say.
Thompson’s max next summer projects be about about $221 million over five years if he makes an All-NBA team (or wins Defensive Player of the Year) this season or about $190 million over five years if he doesn’t.
That’s a steep bill, but the Warriors have little choice but to pay it. They’re in the midst of maybe the greatest run in NBA history, and they’re generating massive revenue. Cheapness would be a terrible reason to break up this team. Thompson is a key contributor, and at least his outside shooting should help the 28-year-old age well.
But costs will get steep in a hurry. If the Warriors re-sign Thompson and Kevin Durant next summer and Draymond Green the following summer to max – not even supermax – deals, keep Stephen Curry then fill the roster with 10 minimum-salary free agents, their projected payroll in 2020-21 would be… about $288 million, including about $115 million in luxury tax. That might be untenable, even for Golden State.
Perhaps, Durant will take one decision out of the Warriors’ hands. But if Durant stays and Thompson seeks every penny, Green could face a belt-tightening team in 2020 free agency.
The Spurs are still paying Tim Duncan, who retired in 2016.
It seems they’ll also give Manu Ginobili, who retired this summer, a similar golden parachute.
Duncan will earn $1,881,250 this season, the final installment of his three years of post-retirement income. When he retired, Duncan had one season remaining on his contract with a $6,393,750 salary. San Antonio didn’t have to pay him that money. Duncan wasn’t coming to work anymore. But the Spurs graciously allowed the all-time great to receive all but $750,000 of his remaining salary and stretched the payments over three years. That money still counted against the cap and was paid despite San Antonio trying to clear cap space in both 2016 and 2017.
The Spurs waived Ginobili yesterday, and no word has emerged on a buyout amount. He was due $2.5 million this season.
Based on the process and Duncan precedent, it seems highly likely Ginobili will continue to draw paychecks from San Antonio.
The Spurs would do well to pay Ginobili all his money this season, whether it’s the full $2.5 million or a negotiated reduced amount. They’re already over the cap and still below the luxury-tax line, so there’s minimal flexibility harm. The only other option – stretching Ginobili’s payments into equal thirds over the next three seasons – could interfere with roster building in future years.
Of course, the other option was getting Ginobili removed from the books entirely. But it seems that route has passed with waiving him.
San Antonio wants to treat its legends well, and that means paying them more than necessary – even with that money counting toward the cap as the Spurs transition into their next era.