AP

PBT Mailbag: Where does DeMarcus Cousins land after Warriors?

2 Comments

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.

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball could be out longer due to bone bruise in ankle

Associated Press
3 Comments

Lonzo Ball has missed the last 11 Laker games. In that time the team is 4-7 with a bottom 10 offense and defense, and they have been outscored by 9.4 points per 100 possessions. Granted, LeBron James was out for a number of those games as well, but even LeBron is talking about how much Ball is missed in the rotation.

The Lakers could be missing him a while longer.

While we are starting to approach the ballpark return date projected for Ball’s Grade 3 ankle sprain, he could miss more time due to a bone bruise in the ankle, reports Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.

Ball moved quickly through the early stages of his rehab. He used crutches for about a week and wore a protective boot on his left ankle for less time than that.

Ball began running on an underwater treadmill two weeks ago and last week he began work on an antigravity treadmill, but was limited because of the bone bruise.

Ball injured his ankle back on January 19 and it looked bad when it happened.

The Lakers could use him as they make a push down the stretch to get into the playoffs — the Laker defense is 3.4 points per 100 possessions better when Ball is on the court this season. The Lakers, 29-29, enter Saturday as the 10th seed in the West, three games back of the Clippers in the eighth seed and final playoff spot. The Sacramento Kings are also between the Lakers and the postseason — to get in the Lakers are going to need to go on a LeBron-led run. Ball would help with that, but it may be a little while longer before we see him on the court.

Rumor: Did Porzingis want out of New York because he didn’t want to play with Durant?

Getty Images
6 Comments

In less than a year, Kristaps Porzingis went from the anointed savior of the Knicks franchise to being traded to the Dallas Mavericks to make way for whatever and whoever is next. It was a turn of events that shocked and angered much of the Knicks fan base.

After the trade went down, the spin machines got busy. The Knicks said that Porzingis requested to be moved, and while there was some push back about that from KP’s camp there was no question he had his frustrations with the Knicks and might have looked around as a restricted free agent. Why did he want out? Did he not trust management? Or was it something else… like who the Knicks are reportedly targeting as a free agent? One Kevin Durant.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe floated that last theory on his podcast Friday:

“I don’t think he was psyched about playing with Durant. I don’t know how directly that was verbalized to the Knicks, but I’m confident that it wasn’t something that was his Plan A, he wanted to be the face of the franchise.”

That apparently was not said to the Knicks.

Expect push back from Porzingis’ camp on this.

There is a whole lot of speculation in this rumor, starting with the Knicks being able to land Durant (even though most sources I talk to around the league see that as the most likely outcome this summer). KD’s star would have been brighter than Porzingis’, but in New York there is plenty of spotlight to go around. Was sharing the stage really an issue?

Porzingis’ frustrations likely had many layers and cannot be defined by Durant alone. If he didn’t trust ownership and management, can you really blame him? We’ll never really know how much of a factor Durant was — or, was not — in that mix.

Where Porzingis landed, he and Luka Doncic are the face of the Mavericks going forward. Mark Cuban and Dallas bet big on them. The question now for Porzingis is was that a good gamble?

Watch Kawhi Leonard strip DeMar DeRozan, get dunk to put Raptors up for good

Associated Press
1 Comment

DeMar DeRozan was welcomed back to Toronto Friday night with a standing ovation — DeRozan is still the most beloved Raptor in franchise history.

But with the game on the line, Kawhi Leonard showed everyone why Toronto made the trade.

Leonard stripped the ball from DeRozan at midcourt and took it in for a dunk that put Toronto up for good.

The Spurs missed their next shot and a couple Leonard free throws after that iced it.

Leonard had 25 points in the game while Pascal Siakam added 22 — those are the two guys who can make this postseason in Toronto different from the previous ones.

Draymond Green reportedly to switch agents to Rich Paul

Getty Images
15 Comments

This summer, the Golden State Warriors need to deal with the free agency of Klay Thompson (expected by sources around the league to re-sign and stay) and Kevin Durant (those same sources think he leans toward leaving).

The following summer of 2020 it’s Draymond Green who is up. Will he have a max offer waiting from the Warriors?

In anticipation of what’s to come, Green is reportedly switching agents to Rich Paul, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is close to hiring Rich Paul of Klutch Sports as his basketball representation, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

He was previously repped by Wasserman.

Paul most famously represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis, although he has a number of other clients.

I’ll say about this switch what I said when Davis switched to Klutch at the start of this past season: Rich Paul is not the guy you hire if the plan is just to automatically sign the contract put in front of you.

Green is a former Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-NBA player, and this season he is averaging 7.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. However, there has been debate around the league about whether his next contract should be a max, or more accurately, should it be a max at the full five years? Or at the four years other teams can offer? The defensive versatility Green brings Golden State is unquestioned — the Warriors are not the Warriors without his ability to guard fives effectively — he is a fantastic passer, and he is the emotional bellwether for the team in many ways. However, he’s shooting 25 percent from three this season (and teams dare him to take that shot now), doesn’t really create on offense (the Warriors can easily hide that with their starters right now), and there are thoughts that he hits free agency at age 29 and his game will not age well. Green also has had a very public clash with Kevin Durant.

What the Warriors will do with Green may hinge in part on happens this summer. If Durant decides to re-sign with Golden State could they then look to trade Green? Also, Green is extension eligible this summer, but with the Warriors cap situation, the raise the Warriors could offer Green will be well below what he likely makes on the open market in 2020. There are a lot of moving parts in the Warriors’ future. And Green’s.

It looks like Rich Paul will be part of that future now as well.