NBA free agency: Winners and losers from Day 1

NBA free agency officially tipped off around the league Sunday evening. It’s been one of the most highly anticipated free agent classes in modern history.

We got answers to some pretty big questions as free agency got going on Day 1. The Boston Celtics netted All-NBA guard Kemba Walker to replace Kyrie Irving, who ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic retained star center Nikola Vucevic on a less-than max contract. More than anything, the Nets’ ability to team Kyrie Irving up with Kevin Durant changes the entire dynamic around the Association.

It’s in this that we give you the biggest winners and losers from the first day of NBA free agency.

Winner: Kemba Walker

Walker traded the small market of Charlotte for the bright lights of Boston. While that’s going to come with a lot of pressure as the face of the Celtics’ franchise, Walker appears to be more than up for the task. He also joins a championship contender after toiling in mediocrity with the Hornets over the past eight seasons.

Equally as important, Walker netted a max four-year, $141 million deal from Boston after the Hornets low-balled him with a five-year, $160 million contract. Now the face of a contending team, Walker is a major winner.

Loser: Free agent big men

Nikola Vucevic receiving less than the max from Orlando represented a major hit for other free agent big men. In fact, his four-year, $100 million contract is well below market value. The same thing can be said about the three-year, $45 million contract Jonas Valanciunas signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.

This does not bode well for other free agents at the center position. Specifically, the market is going to be bare for DeMarcus Cousins.

Winner: Golden State Warriors

Even after both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffered serious injuries in the NBA Finals, it was reported that Golden State would extend max-contract offers to both free agents. While Durant ultimately signed with Brooklyn, the Warriors did in fact offer him a five-year, $221 million deal. Meanwhile, Thompson committed to a five-year, $190 million max deal with Golden State.

It’s rare in today’s sports landscape to see a team show this type of loyalty to players. Thompson’s ACL injury is less severe than Durant’s ruptured Achilles. But both are serious. Offering up $411 million in guaranteed cash represents a major commitment for a team that’s facing billions in payroll over the next few seasons, even with Durant on his way to Brooklyn.

Loser: Kyrie Irving

Irving might have received a max contract from the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night. But it did not come without his reputation being tainted big time. Reports of his diva-like mentality ruining the Boston Celtics gave way to Irving’s former team not showing any real interest in re-signing him. That’s a major black eye for the NBA champion.

It’s also important to note that Boston did not waste any time replacing Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Should Walker lead Boston to championship contention with Irving’s Nets struggling while forming a super team, it would represent another major hit for the veteran.

Winner: Brooklyn Nets

Irving as a loser with the Nets as a winner? Both can be true. Brooklyn targeted Irving immediately after the 2018-19 season. It culminated in a max contract agreement Sunday evening. It also represents the biggest free-agent signing in Nets history.

Well, that was until later on Sunday when Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Nets . He’s going to be joined by best bud DeAndre Jordan to form a new big three in the Big Apple. While KD is out for all of next season, the Nets still have a team worthy of competing in the Eastern Conference until he returns the following season. It was a memorable day Sunday in the Mecca of the basketball world. That’s putting it lightly.

Loser: Charlotte Hornets

Michael Jordan’s tenure as the Hornets’ owner has been an unmitigated disaster. The latest example of this is Charlotte offering Kemba Walker a five-year, $160 million contract, about $61 million less than it could have offered the All-NBA performer.

Instead, the Hornets head into next season with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller counting a combined $71-plus million against the cap. That’s just horrible stuff right there. And it’s certainly enough to make MJ and Co. major losers in free agency. But hey, at least they’re now paying Terry Rozier nearly $20 million annually.

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By: Vincent Frank

Kings Trade DeMarcus Cousins To Pelicans

Written by Matt Moore at CBS Sports.com

In a shocking turn of events Sunday night, Yahoo Sports reports that Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Cousins now unites with fellow former Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis in New Orleans to form a combination of two of the top five big men in the NBA. This is an absolute fleecing, as the picks are likely to vanish in value with Cousins and the Brow together. The Pelicans did not have to surrender star guard Jrue Holiday, any of their big men or talented wings like E’Twuan Moore. The Kings have gone from being sure of re-signing Cousins to a $200 million extension next summer to getting Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans’ expiring contract, Langston Galloway and a pick.

Let’s grade the trade.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 

RECEIVE: DeMarcus Cousins (C), Omri Casspi (F)

SURRENDER: Buddy Hield (G), Tyreke Evans (G), Langston Galloway (G/F), 1st-round pick (protection unclear), 2nd round pick

GRADE: A+

Are you kidding me? Did Dell Demps take Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac to Bourbon Street to complete this deal? How did they pull this off? Dell Demps was considered to be at least on a mild hot seat. The Pelicans were scrambling trying just to get over .500 and failing to do so, and everyone was saying they were a crime against basketball for failing to get Davis help with his incredible production.

Well, he got him help.

Keep in mind what the Pels didn’t give up here: Davis, Jrue Holiday, multiple first-round picks, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Tim Frazier, Donatas Motiejunas. At the very least, Holiday should have headlined this trade, but because he didn’t, New Orleans has a talented two-way point guard to get the ball to his bigs. They add an MVP-caliber player who can dominate the game next to their MVP-caliber player who can dominate the game. They have the No. 3 and No. 6 big men in Win Shares this season. And they didn’t have to give up multiple picks.

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DeMarcus Cousins Suspended and Fined For Separate Incidents

Written by AJ Neuharth-Keusch at USAToday.com

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended one game without pay and fined $25,000 for two separate incidents that took place this past week, the NBA announced Tuesday.

The suspension is the result of Cousins receiving his 16th technical foul of the season — grounds for an automatic one-game suspension, per NBA rules — during the Kings’ 112-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

Cousins picked up two technicals during the game — one for an altercation involving Bulls assistant coach Jim Boylen and another for his reaction after he thought he was fouled on a three-point attempt in the final seconds.

He will serve his suspension on Feb. 8 when the Kings host the Boston Celtics. For every two additional technical fouls Cousins receives throughout the remainder of the season, he will be automatically suspended for an additional game, per NBA rules.

The fine was issued to Cousins for “making an inappropriate statement and (middle finger) gesture” after the Kings’ 109-106 overtime win over the Golden State Warriorson Feb. 4.

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Cousins Goes Off for 55, Calls Out Refs Postgame

Written by Eduardo Gonzalez at LA Times.com

You can be the judge on this one.

Late in the fourth quarter on Tuesday during the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazersgame, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was ejected for picking up his second technical foul of the game after apparently spitting his mouthguard at the Trail Blazers bench.

In an unusual turn of events, however, the officials reversed the call and allowed Cousins return to the game.

Cousins had been fouled by Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee as he scored to put the Kings up with 35 seconds left in the game. Cousins then turned toward the Trail Blazers bench and appeared to say something, and his mouthguard flew out.

He had sprinted into the locker room after being ejected, but officials reversed their call and he ran back out to the court to complete the three-point play.

After the game, he told CSN California that his mouthguard had accidentally come out and the ejection call was “ridiculous.”

“It’s ridiculous. It’s obvious what’s being done out here. It’s on a nightly basis. I hope the world can see now what’s really going on out here ’cause it’s getting ridiculous. It’s really ridiculous,” he said.

Cousins finished the game with 55 points, which was one point shy of his career high, and 13 rebounds to help the Kings rally from a 12-point deficit after the first half to beat the Trail Blazers, 126-121.

Before the game, he was fined by the Kings for his profane tirade toward a reporter after a game last week.

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The NBA’s Stranded Superstars


Written by Ben Golliver at SI.com

The whistle blew to signal a timeout, and yet DeMarcus Cousins stood statue-still near the free throw line in Sacramento’s palatial new Golden 1 Center, as if hoping a tractor beam would lock on his coordinates and take him… anywhere, rather than grapple with the closing minutes of another loss to the Lakers. The same Lakers who dealt the Kings their most heartbreaking defeat, in the 2002 conference finals, and are already bouncing with promise in the first season of the post-Kobe era.

As Sacramento finished squandering a 19-point lead and Cousins’s 28-point, nine-rebound effort, the league’s most-talented center could no longer contain his exasperation. At the buzzer he beelined for Los Angeles power forward Julius Randle to air his grievances, only to be met by a united front of Lakers, many of whom laughed in his face. Cousins then retreated to the Kings’ locker room, where his gaze turned glassy. Beat reporters whispered that he would probably be too angry to take questions. Coaxed into talking, he bemoaned the opposition’s overly physical treatment and his own team’s “tender” play, knowing full well that he had voiced the same sentiments many times before.

Moments later TNT commentator Shaquille O’Neal, who owns a small stake in the Kings, blamed Cousins for their stagnation, calling him a “hothead” who lacks “great leadership qualities.” O’Neal even hinted that the franchise “may be looking to go in a different direction.” The Hall of Fame center never points out the guards’ soft entry passes and lackadaisical transition defense, management’s atrocious draft record—or the fact that Sacramento’s 10-year playoff drought predates Cousins. Even to Shaq, who spent his 20s targeted by critics, Cousins is the franchise’s major problem, and his ouster the only solution.

This cycle of losing, frustration and finger-pointing continued the next night in Portland. Despite repeated hacking, Cousins put up 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds, uncorking three-pointers, brilliant dribble drives and ferocious dunks. Then on the final play, small forward Rudy Gay ignored his repeated pleas for a pass and instead hoisted a contested jumper that rimmed out. Cousins stomped off the court, dejected if not disgusted, as the 122–120 overtime defeat dropped the Kings to 4–7.

Elsewhere, other members of the NBA elite are enjoying predictably rosy seasons. LeBron James had a triple double on opening night and led the Cavaliers to a 6–0 start. Steph Curry set an NBA record by hitting 13 three-pointers. Blake Griffin, looking fully recovered from a leg injury and a damaged reputation, teamed with Chris Paul to guide the Clippers to a franchise-best 9–1 start.

But there is another group of marooned All-Stars who, like Cousins, spent the first two weeks of the season kicking and screaming for help. In Indiana, wing Paul George was ejected and fined for booting a basketball into the stands, where it smacked a woman in the face. In Washington, point guard John Wall was tossed from back-to-back games for bumping a ref and dragging Celtics guard Marcus Smart to the ground. And in New Orleans, power forward Anthony Davis put up record numbers, but still endured an 0–8 start that has his playoff hopes on life support.

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Rondo Opens up About Playing for Kings


Written by Dan Carson at FoxSports.com

Welp. Rajon gone.

If his Tuesday interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols is any indication, Rajon Rondo is already gathering his effects for a new city this fall.

The 30-year-old point guard spoke about his time with the franchise in unvarnished terms, saying the environment was tense, although nobody seemed to be overly concerned with putting in the work.

“There were too many distractions on and off the court,” Rondo said. “The organization as a whole, I don’t think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn’t the case with the Sacramento Kings.”

Rondo also confirmed the reported friction between DeMarcus Cousins and former Kings head coach George Karl.

“Too much tension,” Rondo said, describing the atmosphere when Cousins and Karl interacted. “I’ve never witnessed or experienced anything like that in my 10-year career.”

One bright spot for Rondo was getting to play with Cousins, whom he called the “best big in the league.”

“[Cousins]’s one of the guys that’s very selfless. He has to find other ways to get it done. He’s going to continue to grow and learn. I was just glad I was able to be in his life and have a little bit of influence and help him a little bit this year.”

As for the whole being-on-the-Kings-still thing, Rondo said he’d love to keep playing with Cousins, but would prefer to be somewhere where players like each other and push each other to be better.

“I want to see myself in a situation where guys want to grow, guys want to get better…to get around guys that want to be around one another,” Rondo said. “I don’t want to be the hardest-working guy in the gym.”

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The Kings Want to Rid Themselves of George Karl


Written by Dan Devine at YahooSports.com

At 29-44, the Sacramento Kings have not yet been eliminated from playoff contention. However, they enter Monday’s action 6 1/2 games out of the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed with nine games remaining, so let’s be grown-ups and acknowledge that Sacramento’s season will be over in 2 1/2 weeks. Somehow, against all odds, it seems that George Karl will cross that familiar mid-April finish line as the Kings’ head coach, despite ongoing acrimony stretching all the way back to last summer that seemed to reach a fever pitch at the All-Star break. That Karl continues to lead the Kings, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the players are following.

Let’s turn the clock back to Friday night. After spending the bulk of this season out of Karl’s rotation and parked at the end of the Sacramento bench behind a glut of better established or longer-tenured veteran guards, Seth Curry — the younger brother of Golden State Warriors superstar and reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry — slid into the starting lineup for Friday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns. He performed well, defending hard and scoring 12 points with four rebounds, an assist and a block in 26 minutes of floor time as the Kings blew the doors off the woeful Suns.

After the game, Karl didn’t exactly rush to bury the younger Curry beneath effusive praise, according to Blake Ellington of Sactown Royalty(emphasis mine):

Following the win over the Suns, Sactown Royalty asked Karl what he thought Curry’s future is as an NBA player.

“I think Seth will be a combo guard, play both 1 [point guard] and 2 [shooting guard]. I think usually those guys when I look at them, I see them probably trying to score a little bit too much and I think he probably should become more of a playmaking point as much as a scoring point,” Karl said. “But he’s going to be around for a couple years. He’s definitely going to have a few more years of someone; I think we have him for one more year. I think he has a tenacity to him and a good basketball feel to him. Now he’s just got to be confident and consistent.”

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Kings Suspend Cousins One Game


Written by Kurt Helin at NBCSports.com

On the court, DeMarcus Cousins is the only thing keeping the Sacramento Kings from total embarrassment.

But off the court, he’s never been easy for coaches or management trying to keep him in line/control. And if Cousins feels he’s been wronged — by a coach, a referee, whomever — he does not let it go.

He felt frustrated and wronged by George Karl during the Kings’ eventual loss to the Cavaliers Wednesday night and was seen yelling at the team’s coach during a timeout (Karl and Cousins have had a rocky relationship from the start). According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, Cousins felt Karl was not sticking up enough for him to the referees. Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo stepped in between the two to make sure the incident didn’t escalate. However, after the game the arguments continued in the locker room with Karl and GM Vlade Divac, according to reports.

That crossed the line with the team, and Thursday Divac announced that Cousins has been suspended one game by the team. He will sit out Friday night when Sacramento takes on Orlando. Divac also sent him home Thursday from practice.

There has been tension around the Kings this year because meddling owner Vivek Ranadive was demanding a team that would make the playoffs in the West — the Kings are opening a new building next season and had missed the playoffs for the nine seasons before this one. Ranadive wanted momentum entering the new arena. What he’s gotten instead is inconsistent performances from a roster not built to play Karl’s preferred up-tempo style (the Kings play at the fastest pace in the NBA). Still, the Kings were hanging around the playoff picture until winning just one of their last eight games; now they are all but officially out.

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Harden and Beverley to be in All-Star Saturday Night

Written by Tamberlyn Richardson at SpaceCityScoops.com

Event Participants for 2016 NBA All-Star Game

As the calendar turned to February it signaled the closing in of the NBA All-Star Break. Living in Toronto literally minutes from the Air Canada Center I can tell you preparation for the big event in is full effect and people are extremely excited in anticipation of  the festivities to be featured over the Valentines Day weekend.

Tonight on TNT the players who’ll participate in the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in each of individual events were announced:

Beverley will defend his Taco Bell Skills Challenge win

Last season Patrick Beverley shocked many when he won this event beating out a bunch of top ranked point guards known for their speed (Teague) or ball handling (Knight) as he went on to win the event.

This year he’ll defend his title versus guards CJ McCollum, Isaiah Thomas and Jordan Clarkson. But in perhaps the most interesting and exciting change to the Saturday night events the Skills Challenge will also feature big men: DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green.

I’m dying to know how the pairs will line up, that is to say will the guards pair off and big men pair off running 2 sets of the course to get down to a winner on each side advancing? Or will they have one guard face a big in each heat? Kind of hope it’s the latter as that would be fun to see the bigs trying to beat the guards. All 4 big men are highly skilled and in fact trying to handicap the bigs is actually much more difficult than the guards.

Harden featured again in 3-point contest

Many of the contestants this season are repeat performers from last season such as reigning champ Steph Curry and his Golden State Splash Brother Klay Thompson along with Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Clippers guard JJ Redick (leads league in 3 point shooting percentage). New to the comp is the star from the host city Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry along with Bucks Khris Middleton.

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