Andre Iguodala

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Lakers not ruling out DeMarcus Cousins for playoffs

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An NBA-appointed doctor ruled DeMarcus Cousins is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15.

The Lakers will take the disabled-player exception that comes with that prognosis. But they’re also open to Cousins, who tore his ACL in August, returning in the playoffs.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“We’ve not closed the door on that,” Vogel said Sunday before the Lakers played the Charlotte Hornets. “We’ll just — we’re going to be a wait and see. With these injuries that are long rehabs, you have to see and take it kind of month to month and see where he’s at. But we’ve not closed the door on a possible return for him.”

The league-appointed doctor’s diagnosis is a huge indicator Cousins will miss the entire year. And it’s only one of several reasons to believe Cousins won’t play at all this season.

The Lakers have a full roster and a lot of depth. If they need to open a roster spot (maybe for a bought-out Andre Iguodala?), waiving Cousins would be the simplest route.

Cousins’ $3.5 million salary could also be useful in facilitating a trade. Obviously, no team will trade for Cousins for the sake of acquiring him. But that salary could make the difference in salary matching.

On an expiring contract, Cousins might also hesitate to rush his return. He needs to get healthy to draw guaranteed money next summer. (On the other hand, if Cousins is open to risk-taking, playing this season gives him an opportunity to prove himself and generate bigger offers).

Lastly, Cousins is facing a domestic-violence charge. A suspension would make him ineligible to play.

The disabled-player exception itself won’t stop him. If he beats the NBA’s predicted timeline, he can still play – even if the Lakers already used the exception.

The Lakers gain nothing by “closing the door” on Cousins’ return. He’s still on the roster. They might as well be open to any possibilities, and they can say whatever they want.

It just seems highly unlikely they’ll get him back this season.

Three Things to Know: Draymond Green is right, the Warriors do f****** suck right now

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Draymond Green is right, the Warriors do f****** suck right now. There is no other way to put this, no sugar-coating for this reality: Golden State Warriors have looked flat-out terrible through two games.

How bad are the Warriors?

Give up 70 points and be down by 33 at halftime bad. Had the lead zero seconds so far this season bad. Get outscored by 51 points in your first two games bad. Give up at least 35 points in seven straight quarters bad. Have the worst defense in the NBA bad. Have the worst net rating in the NBA bad. Shoot 5-of-33 from three bad.

Draymond Green put it bluntly after a 120-92 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday night:

“The reality is, we f****** suck right now. Hopefully, we’ll get better. We’ll continue to work at trying to get better, but we’re just not that good right now.”

Golden State’s issues start on defense. While Stephen Curry bombing from three and the beautiful game Golden State played on offense has drawn the spotlight, the Warriors dynasty has been built on a stifling, switching defense. That is the end of the floor where they have been the worst this season, with a net rating of 124.3 for two games (for comparison, the Cavaliers had the worst defense in the NBA last season at a net rating of 116.8). Oklahoma City essentially got whatever shot they wanted all game long.

On offense, the Warriors just can’t hit shots. They are shooting 26.7 percent from three this season, have the worst eFG percentage in the league, the third-worst true shooting percentage (48.9 percent, when the league average is a little above 55 percent), and they have a bottom 10 offensive rating.

Green is right in his postgame interview, those shooting and offensive woes start because the Warriors are not getting easy points in transition, a staple of the offense during their dynasty. Through two games, just 11.5 percent off their offense has been generated in transition, a number that was at 20.3 percent the last time they won a title. (Stat via Cleaning The Glass.)

Before the season, the Warriors were given “institutional credit” — we knew that Kevin Durant was gone, as were key role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and we knew Klay Thompson was injured, and we knew the roster had major changeover and the talent level was down. But these were the Warriors, five straight Finals appearances, they still had Stephen Curry and Green and they added an All-Star in D’Angelo Russell. Much like the Spurs or the past couple of decades, we just assumed they would win.

No. Not even close.

It’s just two games into the marathon 82 game NBA season, it’s too early to shovel dirt on the Warriors dynasty. They have time to turn things around this season, and next season when fully healthy the Warriors could be a serious threat again.

But right now? They f****** suck.

2) Ja Morant would like to throw his name in the hat for Rookie of the Year after dropping 30 on Nets. On a podcast before the season, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports and myself debated this question: How many games will Zion Williamson have to play to still win Rookie of the Year? That question assumed two things. First, that Zion would return around Christmas and almost immediately look like the guy who was a dominant force in the preseason.

Second, that other rookies wouldn’t just step up and take charge of the award before Zion even got on the court.

Meet Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick in the draft. He dropped 30 on the Nets Sunday night and was putting up highlights.

But Morant was not all sizzle and no steak; when the game was on the line he blocked a Kyrie Irving jumper to force overtime.

In overtime, it was Morant with the assist to Jae Crowder for the Memphis win.

Morant isn’t the only rookie putting up early numbers, RJ Barrett has impressed in New York, Tyler Herro has looked good in Miami, and the list goes on. Whenever Zion gets back on the court, he is going to have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of his class. Morant in particular.

3) Tacko Fall made his NBA debut and the crowd went wild. It happened on Saturday in the Celtics blowout win over the Knicks, but we had to bring it to you: Tacko Fall made his NBA debut.

“The lead was 11, then 13, 15 … it got up to 20 and I was like, ‘it’s time,’” Fall told NBC Sports Boston.

Fall racked up impressive per-minute numbers with four points and three rebounds in 3:38 of playing time at the end of the game.

Fall — obviously a fan favorite, the Garden went wild with his every play — is on a two-way contract and will spend most of the season with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League. As he should, this Tacko needs a lot more seasoning.

But the 7’6” big man out of Senegal and Central Florida has his first NBA bucket, and nobody is taking that away from him.

Report: If Andre Iguodala gets bought out Clippers, Lakers frontrunners to land him

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Right now, Andre Iguodala is at home working out; not with the Grizzlies, the team that traded for him this summer. That is by mutual consent, Iguodala agreed to wait it out — likely until close to the Feb. 6 trade deadline — while the Grizzlies looked for a trade partner willing to take on the veteran.

After the February deadline, if Memphis keeps him, they likely buy Iguodala out. If Memphis trades him, it’s possible that team will buy him out.

If Iguodala gets bought out, expect him to land in Los Angeles with the Clippers or Lakers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on an ESPN NBA preview show.

“It’s the two LA teams. It’s the Lakers and it’s the Clippers. If there is a buyout at some point and if Memphis can’t trade him, that’s where that will come down to those two teams…

“Iguodala’s fine with seeing what the landscape looks like and then jumping in on the season a little later [during the season].”

Iguodala would help either of those teams, he’s still a high-level wing defender for the postseason — he’s proven that against LeBron James, and in the West perimeter defenders will be at a premium in the postseason — plus he plays a smart game and can hit big shots. Both the Lakers and Clippers would jump at the chance to have him, but Iguodala has the advantage of sitting back for half the season and seeing which of those teams appeals to him and be a better fit.

Iguodala ended up in Memphis because the Warriors were making moves to revamp their roster last summer and they needed to clear some cap space. So they traded Andre Iguodala to Memphis and sent the Grizzlies a first-round pick in the deal. Iguodala understood the business side of the trade, but he also doesn’t want to play for the rebuilding Grizzlies. Memphis doesn’t want to buy him out — unless he’s giving back a healthy chunk of the $17.2 million he is owed, which Iguodala will not do — instead, the Grizzlies hope to trade him for young players or picks to be part of their rebuilding process. Right now there is no deal to be had, so the two sides reached an agreement and Iguodala is on the roster but not with the team, he’s working out at home while Memphis looks for a trade.

That could be a while.

It’s unlikely a trade happens before Dec. 15 (the day players signed this summer can be traded), and if any deal is made it likely will be closer to the Feb. 6 trade deadline. A team in the deep West that feels it is a player away may make a move to trade for Iguodala, but more than likely he will be bought out one way or another.

When that happens, Iguodala may be on his move to Los Angeles.

NBA players most likely to be traded this season

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This story is part of our NBCSports.com’s 2019-20 NBA season preview coverage. Every day between now and when the season opens Oct. 22 we will have at least one story focused on the upcoming season and the biggest questions heading into it. In addition, there will be podcasts, video and more. Come back every day and get ready for a wide-open NBA season.

NBA teams had historically high roster churn this summer. With so many newcomers around the league, there are fewer than usual obvious in-season trade candidates entering the year. But a few still stand out:

Nene (Rockets)

The NBA nixed the Rockets’ plan to have Nene as a $10 million trade chip. But that might have made it even more likely they trade him.

The upside Nene’s contract provided would’ve been to add salary, which would’ve almost certainly pushed Houston into the luxury tax. Obviously, that was at least a consideration. Otherwise, why sign Nene to that deal? But it’s unclear just how good of a return Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta – notorious for dodging the tax – would’ve required to greenlight a trade.

Fertitta won’t have to worry about that now. With the NBA’s ruling, Nene counts $2,564,753 against the cap. His salary would nearly double if he plays 10 games, which therefore almost certainly won’t happen. He has become too-expensive dead weight on a team flirting with the luxury-tax line.

The Rockets attaching a sweetener to dump Nene is most likely. He could also be dealt as an expiring contract to facilitate something else. But one way or another, expect Houston to trade Nene before the luxury tax is assessed the final day of the regular season – which of course means trading Nene before the trade deadline.

Several other deep reserves (Rockets)

Of the five minimum-salary players who began last year with Houston and didn’t hold an implicit no-trade clause, three got traded during the season.

The Rockets have figured they can move players on full-season minimum salaries and replace them with players on the pro-rated minimum. It’s a clever way to meet the roster minimum all season and still get more breathing room under the luxury tax.

So, Tyson Chandler, Thabo Sefolosha, Ryan Anderson, Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein all look like prime candidates to get traded this year. If any of Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett, Jaron Blossomgame, Michael Frazier, Shamorie Ponds or Chris Clemons make the regular-season roster, add them to the list.

Jae Crowder (Grizzlies)

Andre Iguodala isn’t Memphis’ only veteran forward on an expiring contract who’d help a winner more than this rebuilding outfit. Crowder also fits the bill, and he’s more likely to get traded for a couple reasons:

1. Crower’s salary ($7,815,533) is far lower than Iguodala’s ($17,185,185). Interested teams will have a more difficult time matching salary for Iguodala. Acquiring Crowder is much more manageable.

2. Iguodala is a 15-year pro with supporters all around the league, First Vice President of the players’ union and former NBA Finals MVP. Crowder lacks those credentials. Iguodala has far more cache to command a buyout.

Iguodala is more likely to change teams this season, but it could be by trade or buyout. Crowder is more likely to change teams via trade.

Josh Jackson (Grizzlies)

Iguodala isn’t even the second-most-likely Grizzly to be traded. That’s Jackson, who’s so far from Memphis’ plans, he didn’t even report to training camp.

With his fourth-year option sure to be declined, Jackson will become a $7,059,480 expiring contract. That makes him useful in so many possible trade constructions. He could allow Memphis to acquire an undesirable long-term contract plus an asset. He could grease the wheels of a larger trade. Maybe another team even wants to take a flier on the 2017 No. 4 pick.

Between all the possibilities, it seems like a decent bet one comes to fruition.

Danilo Gallinari (Thunder)

Chris Paul has generated all the headlines, but in its star trades, Oklahoma City acquired two quality veterans to match salary. Gallinari, 31, is younger and maybe even better at this stage. His contract (one year, $22,615,559 remaining) is definitely more favorable than Paul’s (three years, $124,076,442 remaining)

Plenty of contending teams could use another talented forward like Gallinari – if he’s healthy. That’s the big catch. Gallinari thrived with the Clippers last year, but that was his healthiest season in years.

Paul, Dennis Schroder (two years, $31 million remaining) and Steven Adams (two years, $53,370,785 remaining) are also candidates to get moved. But there will probably be more urgency from the Thunder to get assets for Gallinari and more of a market for him.

A couple notes on prominent players not yet mentioned:

I predicted Bradley Beal will tire of the Wizards’ losing and leave Washington. It doesn’t have to happen this season. Though I wouldn’t rule out a trade before the deadline, Beal will like ride out the year in hopes of making an All-NBA team and gaining super-max eligibility. That might be his best ticket to staying, though paying Beal and John Wall the super-max would sure limit the Wizards.

The Warriors insist they didn’t acquire D'Angelo Russell just to trade him. I believe them. I also believe he’s a difficult fit with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, especially defensively. A Russell trade remains very much on the table. But if Golden State plans to give it an honest shot with Russell – and with Thompson sidelined most of the season – a Russell trade won’t necessarily happen before the deadline.

Report: Andre Iguodala, Grizzlies reach agreement; he will not report to training camp

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Andre Iguodala was traded to Memphis in a cost-saving move during the Warriors’ wild offseason. The franchise was upfront about the possibility, Iguodala is a smart man who understands the business of the league, there are no hard feelings.

However, he doesn’t want to play for Memphis. The Grizzlies don’t just want to buy him out — unless he’s leaving a lot of money on the table, which he will not do — they want to trade him for picks or a young player coming back to help their rebuild.

That left the sides at an impasse, but they have reached an agreement that allows Iguodala to not report to training camp and instead keep working out on his own, reports Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian.

Andre Iguodala will not attend Grizzlies’ Media Day on Monday nor report to the team’s training camp under an arrangement reached between the two sides, according to team and league sources.

Iguodala will remain on the Grizzlies roster, likely well into the season. However, the team agreed the veteran can continue private workouts at a location of his choosing while Memphis pursues trades involving the former Golden State Warrior and NBA Finals MVP.

This almost certainly drags out into December, and likely much closer to the Feb. 6 trade deadline. On Dec. 15 the players who signed contracts this summer can be traded, opening up the trade pool. By then, contending teams — or, teams that fancy themselves contenders — will have a better sense if they could use Iguodala off the bench to boost a playoff run. And if they have the players and picks to get a trade done.

Iguodala talked about his situation in Memphis with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole over the weekend.

“We’re trying to figure out things on both sides. They’re trying to figure out some things, and I’m trying to figure out some things. As of today, we’re on the same page. Camp opens the next week. We’ll see. We’re on the same page, though.”

“At this point, the only buyout that makes sense — if I’m speaking on someone else’s behalf, thinking as an agent — is you don’t leave money on the table,” he says. “Especially in this league. Because you’ll never get it back, no matter what people say. Negotiations are a tactic, so you’ve got to be careful how you approach it, or how you verbalize what you would do going forward. But you can’t leave anything on the table.”

Iguodala is in the final year of his contract, worth $17.2 million this season, and he wants to get paid. The Grizzlies want to jumpstart their rebuild. The best option for both sides is just to wait it all out, which is what they have decided to do.

For now. Expect Iguodala rumors to start ramping up around Christmas.