PBT Mailbag: Where does DeMarcus Cousins land after Warriors?

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Submit your questions to the mailbag by e-mailing pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

This week’s mailbag is smack in the middle of summer, with not much to talk about save for Donald Trump literally being racist toward LeBron James. And here I thought August was going to be relaxing.

I was heartened by the response that fans, the league, and players had to Trump’s tweet about James this past week. It was an excellent reminder that the stupid just need to scream louder as their soapbox gets cut lower and lower.

Meanwhile, as James funds the education of real human beings, Trump is moving forward with the SPACE FORCE which sounds like it was a CW Saturday morning cartoon show from 1999 that got cancelled after one season. I mean, it’s definitely cool that LeBron could both physically and culturally dunk on that guy, but the fact that we even have to write stories about this is insane.

Put it this way: Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my name would be on the NBC Sports masthead. Having to write stories about the guy from Home Alone 2 insulting the best NBA player of all time while under that masthead induces an emotion that is completely beyond description.

The mantra in the NBA is always about just making it to the start of the season come fall, but I’m not sure if that can save us this time, guys.

Let’s get to your questions.

Eliot

Where does Boogie end up in 2019? No way he fits into the Golden State system. So where does he end up?
Toronto?(Beavertails & salmon jerky) Orlando?(unlimited touches) Clippers?(big market & BIG BALLMAR BUCKS) DA KNICKS?(Dolan craves star power players)

Who wants this coach killer 20 techs a season immature whiner? Hint: he cant play for his fav coach in Malone. Nuggets already have an adult at center. Time for Cuz to think about “chess move” to China. Checkmate!

This reads as though a Sacramento Kings fan, drunk on stashed bottles of Pliny the Elder and Alizé, decided to write me an e-mail. Bolstered by their sixth-straight viewing of Lady Bird, they decided to fire off an e-mail that is only tangentially related to the NBA and underwritten with the faintest understanding of the last 10 years of NBA transactions.

Frankly, I love it.

The idea that DeMarcus Cousins is a volatile player while on the basketball court is nothing new. It’s been proven over the course of his career, and according to ESPN he has accumulated 118 technical fouls in his eight years in the league. But what so many fans seem to get wrong is the idea that they can discount who Cousins is because of his emotional outbursts.

Look, I get it. My best friend is a Kings fan, and that poor bastard was always going off about how Cousins was making a fool of himself and in some cases, even putting the team in danger of being non-competitive. I mostly thought he was being sarcastic, but I digress. I mean, the guy let Meyers Leonard be his foil for years. It takes a special kind of dummy to be the best center in the NBA while also letting a backup big man get under your skin like that.

The real issue with Cousins in 2019 will not be his demeanor, nor has it ever been. Teams in the NBA want to win and they are always willing to pay players with potential character issues if they believe doing so will get them closer to that goal. Cousins will have an interesting time finding a suitor next season largely because of his torn Achilles.

But no matter the case, even if Cousins looks middling in his return late in the year for Warriors, some team with a massive amount of cap space next year — likely one who does not typically sign big-time free agents — well throw a truckload of money at him. That’s just sort of how it works.

Meanwhile, Eliot, I have to assume you are a Kings fan. I’m sorry your cool billionaire owner turned out to be such a goober.

Lee

Do you see the Mavericks topping 40 wins?

Westgate released their odds for the 2018-19 NBA season and the Dallas Mavericks were at a STRONG at 34.5 wins. That feels about right, even with Dirk Nowitzki returning to help mentor some of this young roster. The real problem is not that Dallas is relying on an aging Nowitzki to get them through, it’s that they are still so incredibly young.

Even with Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. in the bag, it takes a special kind of talent to move a roster with young lottery picks up the playoff standings. That’s to say nothing of the idea that the West has become significantly more difficult. It’s not just about LeBron. It’s about all these teams out West continuing to mesh together after 2016.

At this point, the best outcome for Dallas is that nobody gets seriously injured and DeAndre Jordan plays above the slowly declining output we’ve seen from him lately. The Mavericks aren’t winning 40 games but it’s fun watching The Cubes spend nearly nine figures to do it.

Michael

By now we all know Neil Olshey messed up the glorious summer when the Blazers had actual cap space. He obviously didn’t get fired for those mistakes, but my question is if he were to do something similar in two years when those contracts expire, would he finally get the axe or a parade through Blazer offices?

I wrote about the idea of Olshey getting the axe at length earlier this week and a lot of it applies to this question. Specifically, it seems how Olshey has angled the team is to simply wait out the rest of the Western Conference and some of the bad contracts he signed in the summer of 2016.

The problem with that strategy is that Olshey might just wind up alienating Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, or both. We already know that Lillard wants to be competitive, or at least wants to see some kind of strategy moving forward. He had an entire meeting with team owner Paul Allen about it. And to be sure, there is no way that “wait two years” can be the external plan Olshey tries to sell to Lillard. He’d flip.

Olshey is signed through the 2020-2021 season, although if he fails to make a move after next summer I think we can seriously talk about him getting the boot a little bit early. What has gone unsaid during this offseason in Portland is that Allen has to be on board with this cap-saving, luxury-tax ducking strategy otherwise Olshey would already be gone. That’s especially worrying if everyone up the ladder in Rip City — not just Olshey — is willing to risk seriously pissing off Lillard and/or McCollum.

There have been very few Blazers general managers who have been able to bring in a major player via a trade successfully. Even less have signed big name free agents to complete a roster that wants to contend. The smart betting money is on Olshey being gone in a couple of years, before he gets a chance to burn that potential cap space.

Mel

What do the San Antonio Spurs need to do to win another championship?

I mean, the first couple weren’t that hard to get, were they? All the Spurs had to do was hire the best coach in NBA history, draft one of the best centers in the NBA has ever seen, have that center get hurt, draft another center who is an all-time NBA great, then get lucky with more international prospects than is reasonable over a 20-year span, culminating in a win over so many hall of fame players in the playoffs it’s hard to even count. They can do all that again, right? Especially in an era where NBA players have more control over where they would like to play. NBA players love San Antonio! At least that’s what I hear. Plus, it’s not like that coach is going to leave the team and retire soon, yeah?

Don’t worry. It’ll all shake out. You’ve already got the formula. Just do that again.

Khalid

Why is Jimmer Fredette not in NBA?

Because he’s bad at basketball and he already got his shot during a time of expanding usage of the 3-point shooting in the NBA.

Ryan

I’m going to try to predict how the Cavaliers will use their roster: They’ll focus their efforts with Love and JR Smith as their dominant players. Kyle Korver will be an additional 3-point weapon besides Love. Larry Nance Jr. will dominate the paint and Rodney Hood will be an additional ball handler. Does this sound like a possibility?

This all sounds great! It’s going to be a wild ride to 28 wins.

Submit your questions to the mailbag by e-mailing pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.