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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.

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson out 2-4 weeks

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Tristan Thompson has been one of the biggest bright spots in an otherwise miserable Cavaliers season. The center is averaging 12.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has also taken on more leadership.

And now he’s out.

Cavaliers release:

Cavaliers forward/center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately 2-4 weeks with a left foot sprain. Thompson was injured in last night’s road game at Milwaukee late in the third quarter

This will help Cleveland improve its draft position, though it’s not as if Cleveland (6-21) was having much issue losing even with Thompson.

At least the Cavs have plenty of options at center. Expect Larry Nance Jr. to take a larger role. Ante Zizic likely joins the rotation. Cleveland could dust off Channing Frye. Kevin Love might return before Thompson.

Magic suspended Mohamed Bamba for being late to walk-through

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Seven of the top eight picks in the 2018 NBA draft are scoring double-digit points per game.

The exception: Magic center Mohamed Bamba.

Bamba certainly hasn’t been bad. He’s just acclimating to the NBA at a more common rate than peers like Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Deandre Ayton. This is an exceptionally good rookie class.

But this won’t help Bamba catch up. He missed Orlando’s 101-76 loss to the Mavericks last night.

Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel:

Bamba, who was suspended for a game for being late for the team walk-through at the hotel in Dallas on Monday

“It was a violation of team rules,” Clifford said. “It’s just a one-game thing. Mo will play again on Thursday, but that’s what it was.”

“It’s just bad on my part and I just need to be better … just gotta be on time,” Bamba said. “It’s very difficult because you want to be out there and impact the game in any way possible and hope for a different outcome.”

I doubt Magic coach Steve Clifford suspended Bamba for a single instance of tardiness. This was likely a culmination.

Orlando (12-15) is eighth in the Eastern Conference, in the thick of the playoff race. If the Magic are going to take advantage of the low bar for making the postseason, they need all hands on deck – including Bamba.

Lonzo Ball bypasses open layup for no-look backward bounce pass, leaves Luke Walton staring into abyss (video)

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Lonzo Ball missed a layup early last night. That might have made him overthink later, when he was ahead of the pack on another fastbreak. Instead of shooting the open layup, Ball bounced the ball behind him without looking, leading to a turnover and open Heat 3-pointer.

On the bright side for the Lakers, they still beat Miami.

On the bright side for us, we got this great Luke Walton reaction GIF:

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LeBron James says he was referring to only arena, not consideration of signing with Knicks

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After the Lakers beat the Heat in LeBron James‘ and Dwyane Wade‘s final game together, the stars shared an eyebrow-raising conversation on the court:

  • Wade: “I appreciate you letting it end here. I appreciate you bringing us here today.”
  • LeBron: “It was either here or at the Garden. That’s it. That’s the only places we could end it at, man.”

That prompted immense speculation about whether LeBron considered signing with the Knicks. After all, how else would he and Wade – who said he’d re-sign with Miami or retire – have played at Madison Square Garden?

Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles

This was always the most likely explanation. The arenas in Los Angeles in New York are the NBA’s biggest stages, and LeBron has repeatedly stated his affection for Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have to think through all the implications to say those were the only appropriate locations.

But I’m still a little skeptical.

LeBron sure was speaking up for the cameras with Wade. And that was after an on-court conversation with Wade a few years ago blew up into a big deal. LeBron also got reminded just last year, with Lonzo Ball, about how much attention those on-court talks generate.

Plus, ever since Phil Jackson bothered him with his “posse” comment, LeBron has repeatedly gone out of his way to tease the Knicks.

Ultimately, I believe the given explanation that this was just about the arena’s allure and nothing more. An offhand remark needn’t completely follow the logic that either LeBron or Wade must play for the Knicks for them to meet at Madison Square Garden. But I’m not completely sold this wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at the Knicks.