The question was put to Nowitzki about how good a center DeMarcus Cousins is right now and how good he also would look in a Mavericks’ uniform next season. “That’s a loaded question,” he said Friday before the Mavericks’ 128-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. “He’s an unbelievable player. Probably the best center we have in this league, or one of them. He’s a load down there. He added a 3-point shot last year. He’s one of the toughest players to guard and he can pass, too, out of the double teams. He’s a pretty complete player.
"And as far as a potential Maverick, you never know. Free agency is tough to predict. We'll see what happens." Diplomatic, for sure. The Mavericks got a heavy dose of Cousins on Friday night as he finished with 32 points and 20 rebounds in a losing effort. Cousins will hit free agency this summer. He's become as good and as versatile as any center in the NBA. He's averaging 26 points, 12 rebounds and five assists per game. The 27-year-old is making better than 35 percent of his 3-point shots and he takes more than six per game.
Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason and is expected to be one of the top prospects available. New Orleans can offer a five-year deal paying $180 million, which is a lot less than Sacramento could have offered. By the sound of Cousins in Africa, don’t expect him to reveal much about his free agency situation once he returns to the States. “That’s not the focus,” Cousins said. “The focus is on the here and now and that’s the upcoming season and how we are going to come out and perform. That’s our main focus. That’s for later on. We will deal with that later on.”
Today, Cousins’ future is shrouded in uncertainty, with executives across the league keeping a close eye on how his first full season in New Orleans plays out. “This season is huge,” said a Western Conference team executive. “He has to prove he can win. He has never played with anyone near the talent of Davis. He has to show he is willing to sacrifice for the team and do what is best for the team first. He really needs to turn a corner. If he acts up, he will cost himself a lot of money.”
Jrue Holiday says his new five-year contract with the Pelicans thrusts him into the role of helping persuade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to make a similar long-term commitment to New Orleans. “I’ve already started” lobbying Cousins, Holiday said Thursday night after signing his new contract, which his agent, Jason Glushon, has said is worth $126 million, and could balloon to $150 million with incentives.
Jrue Holiday says his new five-year contract with the Pelicans thrusts him into the role of helping persuade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to make a similar long-term commitment to New Orleans. "I've already started" lobbying Cousins, Holiday said Thursday night after signing his new contract, which his agent, Jason Glushon, has said is worth $126 million, and could balloon to $150 million with incentives.
He’ll be a free agent after this coming season, but he said that’s not his focus. “That’s a long way away,” Cousins said. “My only focus is to be the best DeMarcus I can be, come in the best shape I can and help the Pelicans win games this year. We’re confident in our team, we believe we will be in the playoffs this year; it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”
The Pelicans can only offer a five-year, $180 million deal, which is about $30 million less than what the Kings could have offered. How much does the potential financial loss hurt? DeMarcus Cousins: It was never about the money. I don’t play this game for money. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t play for the money. I had money before. I’m perfectly fine. To say it doesn’t help me would be a lie. Of course I want it. It wasn’t about the money. It never was. I wanted my legacy to end in Sacramento. I invested so much time and energy. Everything I had, my whole heart was into that city. Just for it to end the way it did, that was the part that was f—-. But it was never about the money. I don’t give a s— about the money.
Would it mean something to you if the Kings showed you some sort of appreciation, i.e., video tribute, when you play in Sacramento for the first time next season? A Kings source said to expect that. DeMarcus Cousins: I kind of expect it. The city was always great to me. The fans were always great to me. So I kind of expect it. It wouldn’t be a surprise. What would you tell Pelicans fans nervous about your future plans with the franchise? (Cousins can be a free agent in 2018.) DeMarcus Cousins: I’m more just excited about the moment. We’re all living in the moment right now. That’s all we can do. But as far as my [situation], I’m going to do what is best for me at the end of the day.
“I was stressed out two weeks ago, and I just drove home,” a teary-eyed Cousins told The Undefeated after practice on Thursday. “It took two hours at the most. I saw my mom. Hung out at the house. I was mentally gone. I went back to my old neighborhood and hung out on the block. I saw some of my old people. I left there and felt amazing. I don’t know if it was being around that genuine love, it just kind of humbled me.
There is reason to believe the Mavs might have a shot at Cousins when he hits the free agency market in the summer of 2018. He can talk all he wants about how much he loves Sacramento, but nobody outside of California's capital city actually believes he wants to sign another contract with the Kings.
The Mavs made a pretty transparent attempt to butter up Boogie by bringing his younger brother, Jaleel, to training camp and signing him to the D-League Texas Legends. They also have a good relationship with Cousins' agent, Dan Fegan, although that didn't pay off when they recruited his previous clients Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.
That said, that won’t stop the trade chatter involving Cousins who won’t hit the free agent market until 2018 unless he works out a long-term extension in advance which is something Cousins would not rule out when I asked him about his future. “I got a season and a whole other season,” Cousins said. “I focus on these guys right here; I focus on winning games; I focus on making the playoffs; that’s it.”
Consensus among several league sources I asked about the DeMarcus Cousins/Sacramento situation: The Kings would trade him before the deadline if they were smart. The logic is that Cousins is extremely unlikely to return to Sacramento once he becomes a free agent.
In the process, there is a cloud of drama and the seemingly inevitability hanging over the franchise's head. Many people around the NBA expect Cousins to leave Sacramento when he becomes a free agent in 2018. "They're fooling themselves if they think he's sticking around," said one league executive. "The good news for them is his value will always be high. There isn't a point of no return in which you're not getting high value for him. Teams will bid against each other in the trade market. Maybe [Cousins] doesn't go for the biggest money in free agency but you'd love to have that card to play."
January 19, 2021 | 11:24 am EST Update
Shams Charania: Pacers center Myles Turner has a slight fracture in his right hand and will be re-evaluated in the coming days, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Turner is the NBA leader in blocked shots (4.2 per game).
SOMETIME IN OCTOBER 2019, Joe Boylan, then an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans, received an unexpected text from Brandon Ingram — one of the franchise’s new stars, acquired months earlier in the Anthony Davis trade. “I trust you now,” the message began. Ingram urged Boylan to coach him hard, invited Boylan to “motherf—” him if necessary, whatever it took. It was the same message Ingram had delivered to New Orleans higher-ups on his first day there, when he walked into the office of Jeff Bzdelik, then the Pelicans’ lead assistant, and declared, “I think I have greatness in me. I want you to get it out of me, and I don’t care what you do,” several in that room recalled.
Days after that text, Ingram arrived a few minutes late to his appointment at the training table. That was not unusual. Ingram is a night owl. Boylan lit into him in front of the training staff: “This is why the Lakers got rid of you! This motherf—er wants to be great? No! He wants to be comfortable.” Boylan’s delivery was so over the top, everyone knew it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Boylan reminded Ingram that his lateness delayed players behind him on the schedule. Ingram smiled and took it. “I like being called out,” he said. “Players at this level think they’re above that. I’m still a few minutes late sometimes, but I’m much better.”
Van Gundy walked out of Ingram’s house and called his brother, Jeff, a decorated coach and current analyst for ESPN. “This guy,” Van Gundy told his brother, “is the real deal.” Ingram is one of the most important swing players in determining the NBA’s balance of power. If he becomes the player he thinks he can be — a two-way superstar who approaches double digits in assists — the Pelicans have a chance to contend for titles around Ingram and Zion Williamson. Boylan often told Ingram that New Orleans could win championships if he became their Scottie Pippen.
Ingram has become a more confident and polished finisher around the basket — a prolific producer of free throws. Something clicked in the 2018-19 season, his rumor-filled final year with the Lakers, and the development accelerated in New Orleans. Ingram mastered his footwork — when to use choppy steps in tight creases, and when to gobble up space with loping strides. He finally seemed to understand how long his arms are — that he was on top of the rim sooner than he had perceived.
“The [trade rumors] were tough on him,” said Josh Hart, Ingram’s teammate in both L.A. and New Orleans. “Before LeBron got there, he had been given the keys. And then people in L.A. were killing him: He’s not as good anymore. He’s not a great No 2. pick. The rumors became part of our lives, all year. Thank god I don’t have to deal with that s— anymore.”
Justin Kubatko: Damian Lillard has made all 52 of his free throws over his last six games. It’s the second time in his career he’s shot 52-52 from the FT line over a six-game span. The only player in NBA history to make more free throws without a miss over a six-game span is Dirk Nowitzki. pic.twitter.com/Zx3Ez4lJ08
January 19, 2021 | 11:06 am EST Update
Shams Charania: Update on Delonte West: West now has a job at the Rebound therapy center in Florida, which is the rehab facility he attended. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reunited West with his mother in September and has stayed in close contact.