Warriors Rumors

Clippers Keeping Close Eye On Kawhi, Durant

The Clippers are “transparently obsessed” with chasing 2019’s top two free agents, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who writes that the franchise has treated Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant like college recruits, frequently sending executives to Raptors and Warriors contests this season to scout the stars and ensure that the Clips are visible at those games.

Raptors officials have noticed at least one Clippers employee at about three-quarters of their games this season, per Windhorst. President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank has been among those Clippers employees spotted at Toronto’s contests, even though top execs rarely attend NBA games that don’t involve their teams.

As Windhorst details, the approach appears to be part of team owner Steve Ballmer‘s master plan. In Ballmer’s perfect world, the Clippers would land Leonard or Durant – or both – during the 2019 offseason, making them the face(s) of the franchise as the team prepares to eventually move into a new arena in Inglewood. Ballmer alluded to this plan on Tuesday, as Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times relays.

“We’re just stacking it up,” Ballmer said. “We’re stacking it up with Jerry [West], stacking up with Lawrence, stacking it up with Doc [Rivers], stacking it up with a new arena. We’re headhunting in a place where this team has not been before.”

The Raptors and Warriors will hold the Bird rights for Leonard and Durant, respectively, allowing them to offer more years and more money to their stars than any other suitor could put on the table. Still, the Clippers are in position to make a strong pitch to both players — L.A. should have the cap flexibility to create two maximum-salary slots, and has added a veteran executive in West – as well as former SI.com scribe Lee Jenkins – to its front office “in an effort to prepare a grand slam pitch when the time is right,” writes Windhorst.

While it remains to be seen whether the Clippers will be successful in their efforts to add a star, they may have another prime opportunity to continue their scouting efforts on Wednesday night, with the Raptors in Golden State to face the Dubs. Leonard is day-to-day with a sore hip, though Toronto had no problem thrashing the Clippers in L.A. on Tuesday night without him.

Pacific Notes: Durant, Green, Ariza, Fultz

Everything appears to be back to normal with the Warriors after last month’s altercation between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. Green returned from a sprained right toe last night, giving the team a healthy lineup for the first time in weeks, not counting free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury. The Warriors have climbed back near the top spot in the West with a 19-9 record and looked poised to re-establish themselves as the league’s best team.

More importantly, any fears that disharmony might tear the team apart seem to have passed. Warriors officials gave Durant “plenty of space” after the Nov. 12 incident and the situation appears to have been resolved.

“People I lean on told me to stay centerfield with my thoughts and my feelings,” Durant said. “I received so many people reaching out; my former coaches saying to stay centered, stay measured, stay pushing forward and keeping my foot on the gas. At that time, we were losing games, and people were banged up, so it’s easy to go the other way when you’re searching for answers. It was about staying positive and going to work.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Green, who missed nearly a month of action, was often frustrated as the Warriors‘ medical staff opted to be cautious with his injury, but he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that it was the right decision. “Overall, it was good for me not to rush it,” Green said. “I was starting to question the plan, but I tried it my way the first time and came back premature. I forced myself to trust their expertise because the main goal was getting me back healthy.”
  • The Lakers are trying to work out a three-team trade to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns, and Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype believes he would be a valuable addition in L.A. In addition to his defense and 3-point shooting, Ariza is one of the league’s best players at finishing in transition. He averaged 1.31 points per possession in transition with the Rockets last season, placing him ninth among players with at least 100 transition possessions.
  • There has been speculation that the Suns might be willing to take a chance on Markelle Fultz, but John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 doesn’t expect it to happen (Twitter link). He states that Phoenix has no interest in taking on “any issues” that the second-year Sixers guard has.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/10/18

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • In what might be the most significant G League assignment of the season, the Warriors sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to their affiliate in Santa Cruz, the team announced. Cousins is rehabbing from a torn Achilles and is hopeful to return within three-to-four weeks. We relayed Cousins’ assignment and his comments after Monday’s practice.
  • The Rockets recalled Isaiah Hartenstein from their G League affiliate in Rio Grande, per Mark Berman of FOX 26. Hartenstein (Twitter link). The 20-year-old center has appeared in 21 games this season, averaging 2.1 PPG and 1.6 RPG.
  •  The Celtics recalled Robert Williams from their G League affiliate Maine Red Claws, the team announced (Twitter link). Williams has appeared in nine games with Boston on the season and was drafted by the team 27th overall in June.
  • The Bulls assigned Antonio Blakeney to their G League affiliate Windy City Bulls, the team announced (Twitter link). Blakeney has appeared in 24 games with Chicago this season but only played four of their past seven.

Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins Talks G League Assignment

The latest step in DeMarcus Cousins NBA comeback attempt was a G League assignment to the Warriors‘ affiliate in Santa Cruz. Cousins practiced with the team on Monday and came out of it without issues.

Cousins, 28, suffered a torn Achilles nearly a year ago when he was still a member of the Pelicans. Golden State inked the All-Star center with the hope he would be ready to play several months into the regular season. While today’s practice went well, Cousins noted that playing in an NBA game soon would not be easy.

“I mean if it was… I feel like if my life depended on it at the moment, yeah, I could go out and play a game,” Cousins told reporters, including ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “I want to be 100% or as close to 100% as I can be when I do return. I want my body in tip-top shape. It is not even about the Achilles, it’s just about my other body parts and making sure everything is fine-tuned and in the best shape possible to go out and play a full game.”

The hope is that Cousins will be ready to play within the next three or four weeks, putting him on a track for a mid-January return. A healthy Cousins would give an already formidable lineup another elite, All-Star caliber talent. In 48 games before the injury, Cousins averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds in New Orleans.

The six-time All-Star noted it was his idea to join Santa Cruz as part of his rehab process.

“It was my idea, I want to come down,” he said. “Before I ever stepped on the floor, I wanted to get in some type of basketball rhythm. That’s something me and the trainers butted heads about, they have their idea of getting ready for a game and I have mine.”

It’s possible that Cousins plays in a G League game before his NBA return, but the center noted he had discussions with Warriors’ general manager Bob Myers and no decision has been made. Ultimately, his goal is to be as prepared as possible.

“It’s been extremely humbling,” Cousins said. “It’s really tested me as a person, as a man, as an athlete. I’ve had a lot of dark days, a lot of good days. I’ve questioned myself a lot. But I found a way to overcome all those bad feelings. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am extremely excited to get back on the floor. 

DeMarcus Cousins To Practice In G League This Week

Injured Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is expected to practice on Monday with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter links). According to Spears, Cousins will likely scrimmage with the NBAGL club and participate in every aspect of practice that he wants to.

Logan Murdock of The Bay Area News Group adds a little more detail on the Warriors’ plan for Cousins, who is coming back from an Achilles tear, writing that the big man will likely practice with Santa Cruz again on Wednesday.

Santa Cruz doesn’t have a game on its schedule until Friday, and it’s not clear if Cousins will play in that contest – or any others – with the G League squad. However, head coach Steve Kerr explained last week that the team wants the four-time All-Star to at least get in some practice time in the NBAGL.

“We don’t practice much just like any other NBA team since we have so many NBA games,” Kerr said. “He needs more intense and focused practice time. Hopefully, he can get some of that in Santa Cruz.”

There’s still no set timetable for Cousins’ return to the court for Golden State, but we heard a couple weeks ago that he and the team are targeting a post-Christmas return. The Warriors, who hold the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference despite Cousins, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green all missing time with injuries, won’t rush back their prized free agent signing.

Warriors Still Looking To Find Joy

  • As the Warriors continue to fight through a season full of turmoil and injuries, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes that the team is still looking to find its joy, which is much harder to regain as it isn’t a tangible goal or accomplishment such as a championship ring or trophy.

Jason Terry Has Interest In Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks

Veteran guard Jason Terry considers himself retired unless he receives an offer from the Lakers, Warriors or Mavericks, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Terry made the comments as part of the Dallas broadcast of Saturday’s game, adding, “Then I’ll answer the phone.”

Terry, 41, played 19 NBA seasons, including the past two with Milwaukee. He averaged 3.3 PPG in 51 games last year and was hoping for another season with the Bucks, but the opportunity never came.

A career 38% shooter from 3-point range, Terry had his best years with the Hawks and Mavericks, winning a championship with Dallas in 2011. He signed with Boston in 2012 and entered a journeyman phase of his career, spending one season with the Celtics, another with the Nets and two with the Rockets before coming to Milwaukee.

There’s no indication that any of Terry’s preferences are considering giving him an opportunity. Golden State has a roster opening, but may not fill the spot all season to lessen its luxury tax. The Warriors are also waiting to see what happens with Patrick McCaw, who remains a restricted free agent.

The Lakers and Mavericks both have full 15-man rosters and would have to unload a guaranteed salary to add Terry.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Jonas Jerebko, Warriors, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.18MM deal in 2018
Jerebko has bounced around the league the last few seasons but he always stays within his role and provides solid contributions wherever he lands. He’s averaging 7.2 PPG while shooting a career-high 48.9% from the field in 19.8 MPG. He’s also helped on the boards (5.5 RPG). An above-average 3-point shooter, Jerebko shouldn’t have too much trouble finding another contender to sign him as their backup stretch four next summer. It could be Golden State if he’s willing to settle for the veteran’s minimum again.

Tobias Harris, Clippers, 26, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2015
When news leaked over the summer that Harris turned down an $80MM extension offer from the Clippers, many people wondered what Harris was thinking. He was willing to bet on himself that he could do even better as an unrestricted free agent and thus far, the odds have increased in his favor. Harris is posting career highs in several major categories, including scoring (21.0 PPG), shooting (50.8%) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) for one of the league’s surprise teams. When the superstars come off the board, Harris will be next in line for a big payday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The previous Pistons regime declined to give Caldwell-Pope a multi-year extension. He wound up signing a pair of generous one-year contracts with the Lakers but he’s been reduced to backup duty. Most of the shots he’s taken have come from beyond the arc and he’s not particularly good at it (33% this season, 34.4% for his career). Caldwell-Pope doesn’t appear to have a future with the Lakers beyond this season and will have to take a pay cut to find work elsewhere.

Dragan Bender, Suns, 21, PF (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $13.4MM deal in 2016
When the Suns drafted Bender No. 4 overall in 2016, then traded with Sacramento for No. 8 selection Marquese Chriss, they seemingly resolved their power forward spot for years to come. Instead, they wound up with two of the biggest busts in that draft. Chriss was traded away to Houston during training camp while Bender is barely seeing the court in Phoenix. He’s appeared in eight games while averaging just 5.5 MPG. Bender needs a change of scenery but he’ll have to settle for a modest deal next year until he proves he’s a genuine NBA player.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, PF (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
The Kings have a lot of young bigs but Cauley-Stein has been a fixture in the lineup. He’s posting career highs at 14.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG while generally playing the same amount of minutes as last season. Cauley-Stein came into the league with a reputation of being a quality defender and he’s posted positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings each season, according to Basketball-Reference. He’ll be a restricted free agent but might be one of the few who gets a substantial offer sheet, considering Sacramento will like choose to make Marvin Bagley III their main man in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Rumors: Jones, Cousins, Green, Livingston

The Warriors provided a handful of injury updates on their big men today, starting with the official announcement that Damian Jones has undergone pectoral surgery. While Jones will be able to start rehabbing in six weeks, he’s likely to be sidelined for five or six months, head coach Steve Kerr said today (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN.com). That could put him on track to return during the postseason.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins is expected to head to Santa Cruz sometime this month to practice with the Warriors’ G League affiliate, according to Kerr (Twitter link via Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle). Cousins could even play in a couple games for the Santa Cruz Warriors before making his debut for Golden State, which is expected to happen after Christmas.

In the short term, Draymond Green went through shootaround and is pushing to play for the Warriors tonight against Milwaukee, per Kerr (Twitter link via Friedell). While they’ll see how he looks in warmups before making a decision, it sounds like the Dubs will continue playing it safe with Green, who is coming back from a toe injury. He’ll likely sit out at least one more game.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kerr said today that the Warriors won’t use their open roster spot to add anyone for now, since they want to see how the club looks when healthy – Cousins included – before making any decisions (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).
  • Veteran guard Shaun Livingston isn’t sure exactly when he’ll call it a career, but tells Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders that his retirement probably isn’t too far down the road. “I mean, honestly who knows?” Livingston said. “A year, couple years? But I mean, it’s coming sooner than later. Handwriting is on the wall.” Andre Iguodala recently expressed a similar sentiment on his own career, though he’s nearly two years older than his longtime teammate.
  • In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, David West admitted that he has second-guessed his decision to retire once. It happened when he was watching Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have their shouting match at the end of that infamous game against the Clippers last month — West felt that his presence in that moment would have prevented the incident from escalating.
  • Speaking of the Green/Durant dynamic, Warriors general manager Bob Myers weighed in on that subject during a radio appearance on 95.7 The Game, as Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. “I really think it’s behind us. I really do,” Myers said of the friction between the two All-Stars. “You have to flush it out, you have to get it all out there — get all your emotions out. There’s a healing part of it — you don’t get over it in 30 seconds — but you do get over it. And I honestly think they have.”

Damian Jones Undergoes Pectoral Surgery

Warriors center Damian Jones, who suffered a torn left pectoral muscle last weekend, has undergone surgery to repair the injury, the club announced today in a press release.

When Jones was first diagnosed, the Warriors indicated that he would be out indefinitely. There’s still no specific timetable for his return, but the team provided a little more clarity today, announcing that the 23-year-old will be able to begin his rehabilitation process in about six weeks. Golden State will have a better sense at that point of whether Jones will be able to get back on the court before the end of the season.

If Jones is ruled out for 2018/19, the Warriors could apply for a disabled player exception, but it wouldn’t do much for them, given Jones’ modest $1,544,951 salary. If granted, a DPE allows a club to sign a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, assuming that amount is below the value of the mid-level exception.

Jones, a first-round pick in 2016, earned starting duties at center for the Warriors this season, averaging 5.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 24 games (17.1 MPG) before he went down.

While the Warriors have an open spot on their 15-man roster and could make a move to add depth in their frontcourt, they’ve seemed content to let Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell handle the five for now. Draymond Green is expected to return to the lineup next week and can play center in some smaller lineups, as can Jonas Jerebko.

Of course, the Warriors are also preparing for one of the NBA’s very best centers to make his debut for the team within the next several weeks. DeMarcus Cousins, who signed with Golden State in the offseason, is reportedly targeting a post-Christmas return.