Report: DeMarcus Cousins near contract extension with Kings

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Paul George just about has his. John Wall got his. Larry Sanders got his.

They all got extensions to their rookie contracts, the early extensions out of the 2010 Draft.

DeMarcus Cousins was one other name where we expected a deal — he is potentially the best player in the 2010 draft class but with questions about whether he has the mental game to live up to it. It’s not really a question of money, if the Kings don’t give Cousins a max extension this summer, some other team will next summer when he’s a restricted free agent.

The two sides have been talking for a while and now the Kings and Cousins are close to a deal with years maybe being the sticking point, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Two sources told ESPN.com that Cousins could actually have a deal wrapped up before the Kings open training camp next week in Santa Barbara, Calif.

New Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, who has been scouting the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia, is scheduled to return to Sacramento early this week and resume negotiations that sources say are well under way. Cousins is said to be seeking the five-year max deal in the $80 million range that teams can award their designated franchise players, as already seen with Wall in Washington and soon to be repeated this week with George in Indiana.

The two sides have until Oct. 31 to reach a deal (otherwise he becomes a restricted free agent next summer where the Kings can match offers), and they most likely will.

If you wanted more proof, here is what Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told the USA Today.

“I don’t want to say anything premature [about an extension], but I’ve been constant in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They’re out there practicing on their own every day and he’s out there leading those practices. He’s out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. They all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that’s ever happened.

There is no doubt Cousins can play, he averaged 17.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting, plus he had 9.9 rebounds a game. When he has been focused on his game he has looked dominant.

Nobody really expects Cousins to become a saint, just not a distraction. Not the guy battling with referees then drawing techincals and ejections, not the guy battling with coaches to the point the team suspends him. The Kings tried the “buddy” system with Keith Smart as coach, now you have Mike Malone who is a little more old school. It could be tough love with the coach and new part owner of the Kings Shaquille O’Neal as the good cop.

None of that matters, it’s on Cousins. It’s like the Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Cousins has had mentors around him before, he does now, when he chooses to listen he will hear what he needs to hear.

For the Kings, all the goal, but they have to pay the man. Cousins is a max player they hope lives up to that potential, the only question is if they take the risk on the fifth year (and if they do not, how will that impact Cousins and his psyche).

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.

Hawks rookie Trae Young: ‘I know there is a lot on my plate’

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The Grizzlies plan to bring No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson along slowly.

No. 5 pick Trae Young won’t have the same luxury.

After picking Young, the Hawks traded Dennis Schroder, their incumbent starting point guard. Though Atlanta also dealt for Jeremy Lin, Young knows where he stands.

Young, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from New Jersey, where he was taking part in the Rookie Transition Program. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Unlike Memphis, the Hawks aren’t trying to win now. They can ride through Young’s highs and lows.

Though I’m quite high on Young, I also expect him to struggle next season. Most rookies do, especially point guards. And the small Young could face an especially tough adjustment to NBA size and athleticism.

But he seems to be embracing the challenge with the right attitude, giving himself the best chance of emerging on the other side ready to lead an NBA team.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘We’ve got to get past Boston. Those are the guys at the top right now’

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After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.

The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.

Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:

“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.

“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.

This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.

But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.

Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.

Report: Jon Leuer expected to return to Pistons by start of season

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Pistons big Jon Leuer underwent meniscus surgery, leaving plenty of doubt about his availability for next season.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

After losing Anthony Tolliver in free agency (to the Timberwolves), Detroit needs Leuer as a stretch big off the bench. Unless Henry Ellenson is ready for rotation minutes, which…

If Leuer isn’t quite ready for the start of the season, Stanley Johnson could play small-ball four, but that weakens wing depth.

The Pistons’ best hope is Leuer getting healthy on schedule.