NBA Saturday: Will Cousins Stay or Go?
Kings Changing Their Minds About Cousins?
More and more really smart and really plugged-in people have been saying for a couple weeks now that this year’s trade deadline is probably going to be a dud. We’ll all believe that when we see it, because something surprising almost always goes down in February, but with so little big-name chatter out there fans have really latched onto embattled Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins as perhaps the only marquee player with even a small chance of getting traded this winter.
Of course, the problem with that is twofold; not only is Sacramento reticent to trade their best player from a talent standpoint (especially now that they’re winning some games), but the other 29 teams in the league are equally uncertain about giving away major assets for a guy who continues to have so much trouble behaving himself.
Boston, for those that haven’t been paying close attention to the Cousins rumor mill the last couple of weeks, is one team that doesn’t seem deterred by DMC’s sometimes stony personality. However, it’s hard to imagine a Boston deal that Sacramento would accept. One older rumor suggested a package built around Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, while another centered around Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. Neither combination comes close to matching value for a player on the cusp of All-Stardom, so despite two weeks’ worth of rumblings, it seems unlikely anything comes out of Beantown.
But what about Dallas?
The Mavericks are supposedly one of the teams Cousins’ agent would love as a landing spot should the Maloofs ever find themselves keen to making a deal, and the Mavericks, likewise, seem to be the only team of note other than Boston willing to take a risk on the former Kentucky big man.
In Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime over at ESPN.com, he points out that the Mavericks let J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler walk after the championship season because they wanted to position themselves for the summer of 2012, at which point Chris Paul and Deron Williams and Dwight Howard were supposed to become available. When Paul and Howard picked up their options, and Williams spurned his hometown team to usher the Nets into Brooklyn, the Mavericks were left feeling hosed, forced to go with a series of Plan B’s that included O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman, and Elton Brand.
But Mark Cuban, according to Stein, is still in a position to absorb a major talent if he can, particularly with Dirk Nowitzki clearly golfing on the back nine of his career.
The deal would be a little tricky, though, because any team taking on Cousins is also probably going to be asked to take back a bad contract or two, as well. Dallas isn’t keen on absorbing salaries that cloud up their flexibility for the juicy free agent class of 2014, but Chuck Hayes, Jimmer Fredette, and Marcus Thornton all have money on the books for ’14-’15 that isn’t negligible. Still, if Dallas was getting a player they felt was a franchise cornerstone, they might bite the bullet and take back some bad money if needed.
As for what Sacramento would want in return, Dallas could offer some combination of Collison, Kaman, Roddy Beaubois, and Jae Crowder, which, on the surface, doesn’t look a whole lot better than the mid-tier talent Boston is offering up. The difference is almost all of the Dallas guys mentioned (with the exception of Crowder) are expiring contracts. At the very least, Sacramento could dump some salary along with their thorny young center. They could probably do better, but they also could do a whole lot worse.
At the end of the day, though, Sacramento looks like they want to keep Cousins for now. Since returning to the starting lineup five games ago, he’s averaging 19.4 ppg, 14 rpg, 5.4 apg, and 2.2 spg while helping the Kings to win 4 out of their last 5. His 31 points and 20 rebounds in Friday night’s road win in Toronto sort of puts the exclamation point on why the Kings would lean towards not trading the guy, so at this point it’s completely understandable that the DeMarcus Cousins doing all that while being on his best behavior is a guy you’d want to keep around.
It’s also a guy you’d love to trade for, which is why the rumors persist. Boston and Dallas seem to want him the most, but that doesn’t mean that’s where Sacramento would have to ship him, if they traded him at all.
Perhaps this trade deadline will be a snooze, but until it comes and goes Cousins will be the center of the rumors (pun intended). It’s just as easy to see him playing out the year in Sacramento as it is to imagine him getting sent to an entirely different part of the country. However, if he keeps this up, there’s just no way the Kings can justify moving him. That won’t stop fans from hoping though, will it?
Ty Lawson Sees Turnaround For Himself And His Team
The Denver Nuggets have been one of the best home teams in the league this year, but unfortunately they just really haven’t played a lot of games in Denver over the course of the first third of the season. In January, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson explains, the schedule kind of evens out as the team plays 12 out of 15 games at home, and that’s an opportunity for Denver to firmly entrench themselves into the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Lawson admits that he’ll need to be a big part of that, and he also talks about his early season struggles, the aftermath of his big contract extension, and the addition of a new aspect of his game in the following exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD TV:
Shannon Brown Finds His Home in Phoenix
After a productive stint as a reserve on a couple of championship L.A. Lakers teams a few years ago and really breaking out as a scorer in 2010-2011, a lot of people thought that Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown was on the cusp of a major contract in free agency and well on his way towards possibly becoming a bright young star in this league.
Only the Phoenix Suns eventually offered Brown a deal in the summer of 2011, however, and even that was only a one-year contract. Despite his best year as a pro in 2011-2012, Brown hit free agency again for the second summer in a row, and the best he could get out of the Suns that time around was a two-year deal in which only one the first season was fully guaranteed.
In short, it’s possible that Brown could hit free agency for a third straight summer this July. That, he says, has been a very frustrating part of his job.
“It’s tough when you’re trying to find a job and you end up signing a one-year deal. It’s not an easy thing to do,” Brown said. “You’ve just got to hope everything falls in place.”
So far this year, things have started to stabilize for Brown, meaning if he keeps this up it seems pretty likely that the Suns would keep him around for the second non-guaranteed year of his deal. Playing three full years for the same team would be a first for Brown in his NBA career, and it’s not something he takes for granted.
“It feels good to have some stabilization in my basketball career and the way that I earn a living and feed my family on a yearly and daily basis. It’s just great to know that I have people that want me, and I have the opportunity to go out and showcase my basketball talents to the world night in and night out,” he said.
“I just knew that I had to take advantage of every opportunity that is given to me, and that’s pretty much what it’s come down to,” he added. “I understand that some people don’t want to see me successful and don’t want to see me do well, so I’ve got to be smart and do what I got to do to keep myself in a position where I can continue to help this team win.”
Winning, of course, has been challenging for Phoenix this year, and while that has been a struggle for a guy with two rings, he’s staying positive as he helps the Suns rebuild.
“People think it’s real easy to make into the NBA and start and do this,” Brown said. “There are a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome, but you can’t let it stop you. I think I’m one of the prime examples of if this hadn’t happened, I’d be off somewhere doing God knows what.”
But he is playing basketball, and doing a pretty good job at it.
“It took me six-seven years to finally find a spot,” he said. “But it’s never easy to deal with losing. We’ve got a lot of new players this year, and we switched up our system, trying to find out what we are as a team. We’re not going to give up; we’re going to fight to the end, and we’re going to figure this thing out.”
That statement could actually apply to Brown’s career. He continues to get better every year he plays, and that should hopefully result in a comfortable long-term contract the next time he hits the market. The guy deserves some stability, and after seven years in this league, it’s time some team rewarded him with that.