DeMarcus Cousins didn’t understand Kings’ offseason moves

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LAS VEGAS — Out of the NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings first picked up Georgios Papagiannis (via trade), a big, play-in-the-paint center out of Greece. Which turned heads because this is a team that already had DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein in the paint. Clearly Papagiannis was on top of the Kings’ draft board at the time, but for the record still available were Denzel Valentine, Henry Ellenson, and Wade Baldwin. (Valentine and Baldwin showed out well at Summer League; Papagiannis looked like a guy who needed work averaging 5.2 points a game on 35.7 percent shooting, plus pulling down 4.8 rebounds a night, in more than 20 minutes a game.)

That led to this tweet from Cousins (who later said it was about his hot sculpting yoga class).

How does Cousins feel now about the Kings’ offseason?

“I don’t really understand what’s going on. I just control what I can control; I let them do their jobs,” Cousins said as USA Basketball opened up training camp in Las Vegas Monday.

He reiterated other statements along the same lines of “just doing his job.” It wasn’t a ringing endorsement of the front office.

With Team USA, Cousins played with what appeared to be the starting five in scrimmages — Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Cousins. He looked like he’d dropped weight and was moving well in what will be an up-tempo, high-pressure system that USA Basketball likes to run.

In Sacramento, the Kings went on to make some solid, if unspectacular, moves in free agency. They added veterans Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, and Anthony Tolliver. Later in the draft, they picked up Skal Labissiere, who in Summer League showed promise as a potential four to play next to Cousins, one who can stretch the floor and be a better fit than Cauley-Stein (eventually, Labissiere has a lot of developing to do). They traded for rookie Malachi Richardson, who showed promise in Summer League (and defended well). The Kings also let Rajon Rondo go without a fight and will turn the point guard duties over to Darren Collison, who is an upgrade at the spot.

Mostly, the Kings are counting on new coach Dave Joerger to fit all these pieces together in a way that has the Kings defending well and fighting for a playoff spot as they open their new building. We’ll see about that. I think most people are still on board with Cousins — we don’t really understand what is going on in Sacramento.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.