Report: Lakers trying to trade for DeMarcus Cousins

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Sacramento decision maker Vlade Divac has made it clear: He doesn’t want to trade DeMarcus Cousins. So stop asking, unless you’re offering Michael Jordan.

Yet, in the wake of Cousins’ frustrations with the constantly shifting plans of the Kings ownership, plus coach George Karl saying he never had an untradable player, the offers keep coming. Even though they are all long-shots. At best.

The latest long shot is from the Los Angeles Lakers, in a possible three-way deal with Orlando, as reported by Marc Stein at ESPN.

The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as one of the most determined trade suitors for Sacramento Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, according to league sources….

Sources say that the Lakers, Kings and Orlando Magic have had exploratory dialogue on a three-way Cousins trade that would land the 24-year-old in Los Angeles. All three teams hold top-six picks in Thursday’s NBA draft, and Orlando has a young top-flight center of its own in Nikola Vucevic, who could theoretically fill the Cousins void….

The Lakers would appear to have limited assets to get into the trade sweepstakes for Cousins — in the event Sacramento’s stance changes — beyond surrendering prized young big man Julius Randle and/or the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

How do you think Sacramento trading its best and most popular player by far to the hated Los Angeles Lakers would go over with an already frustrated fan base?

I can’t see this happening. For one thing, it’s going to take more than the Lakers’ No. 2 pick — which would be Duke’s big man Jahlil Okafor. No way the Lakers would give up Randle and the No. 2, but would the Lakers surrender Jordan Clarkson and the No. 2? It’s likely going to take at least that — and that may not be enough.

All that’s if you can get the Kings to change their minds. Which is unlikely at best.

The Lakers can poke around a little, but they are better off with a young nucleus of Clarkson, Randle and Okafor.

Okafor would be good with that, he told NBC’s Sports ProBasketballTalk on Monday that he did see a fit in Los Angeles. And he likes the idea of playing with Kobe Bryant.

“I think I can learn a ton,” Okafor said of playing with Bryant in what might be Kobe’s final season. “He’s been in the NBA a while, he came into the league early — I think he was younger than me when he came into the league — so I want to pick his brain and learn as much as I can….

“It’s all about he wants to win. So do I.”

That sounds like a good Lakers foundation.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”