NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Cousins hints at ‘players-only’ meeting after loss to Spurs — The Sacramento Kings in 2015-16 were expected by many to, at best, push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and, at least, show marked improvement from the last several seasons. Yet this morning they are 1-7 after a 106-88 home drubbing at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. Following the loss, Kings star DeMarcus Cousins — back in the lineup after missing four games with an Achilles injury — said the team has issues to work through. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee has more:
The Kings are 1-7 and have lost six in a row. This time the Kings fell apart in the fourth quarter and were outscored 34-19.
Again, the Kings’ defense did little to slow down an opponent, which has been the case often this season. The lineups were unpredictable again as the group that started the game didn’t start the second half.
Cousins, who missed the previous four games with a strained right Achilles’ tendon, was asked if he learned anything about the team while injured.
“Everything I can’t really speak on,” Cousins said. “We got some issues that we got to carve out. Can’t really speak on that. But one thing is, us players, we got to stick together. And just with that, that’ll get us through most battles. We got some issues in-house we need to figure out.”
Cousins was asked if these were issues that could be fixed before the Kings host Detroit on Wednesday.
“Can’t answer that,” he said.
Are these on-court issues?
“Not at all,” Cousins said.
Cousins was asked if the Kings needed a players-only meeting.
“It’ll be a players-only meeting,” Cousins said. “… Just to make it clear I believe in every single person in this room. We just got to stay together. That part I’m not worried about. But there are issues we need to figure out.”
Cousins was asked if the issues would be fixed with a few wins.
“I feel like when those issues are fixed, the winning will come,” Cousins said.
The Kings have used a different starting lineup in the last six games and seven different starting lineups overall.
Anderson was benched to start the second half and did not re-enter. Ben McLemore went from the doghouse to starting the second half.
“It’s different lineups, man, so people we haven’t necessarily played with before and it’s tough,” Rudy Gay said. “Not just on the people that do play, it’s tough on everybody. The guys that do come in and try to fill in the pieces. And we have a lot of young people who are expected to do a lot of things. We just have to be better.”
Coach George Karl was also asked about the mood of the locker room. The optimism from preseason is being overtaken by the frustration the Kings have only one win.
“Right now it’s probably a little angry and frustrated and confused,” Karl said. “Fortunately we have a day tomorrow to straighten that out and get back on track.”
No. 2: Beal, Durant: D.C. fans cheering for Durant ‘disrespectful’ — There’s a big matchup tonight on NBA TV as the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Washington Wizards (7 ET) in a Fan Night showdown featuring two contenders. Aside from that, of course, is the storyline of D.C. native Kevin Durant and whether or not he’ll use his looming free agency in 2016 to leave Oklahoma and head back home come 2016-17. That’s unknown at this point and Durant has done all he can to stay away from the topic. Still, there will be D.C.-area fans at tonight’s game purely cheering for the native son, which is something Wizards star Bradley Beal (and Durant) doesn’t endorse. J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com has more:
Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal are on the same team when it comes to this, before the Oklahoma City Thunder arrive to square off the Wizards on Tuesday: They don’t want Verizon Center fans cheering their favorite son in an attempt to placate him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. In fact, both loathe it.
“It is disrespectful because he plays for Oklahoma City,” said Beal, who is questionable because of a sore left shoulder, when asked if he agreed with Durant’s assessment. “He doesn’t play for Washington.”
Earlier in the day, Durant spoke about his experience playing here last season. While he’s a native of D.C. and the Wizards (3-3) have made moves to clear cap space to make a run at him in 2016, the adoration makes him uncomfortable.
“It was cool to see all my family there but if our team did that to somebody coming into our arena, I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t really like it,” Durant told reporters after practice in Oklahoma City. “We’re playing a really good team in the Wizards, a great team. Great young talents. Good coach. I think that was disrespectful so I didn’t like it.”
Wizards center Marcin Gortat was more understanding, knowing that’s how fans can be and doesn’t take it personal.
“They are fans. At the need of the day, they pay my salary. They can do whatever they want to do,” said Gortat, who is in the second year of a five-year, $60 million contract. “Kevin Durant has a huge fan base. Wherever he goes he’s got thousands of people cheering for him. We can’t be mad about that. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll have some fans that cheer for us and hopefully we’re going to get a win because we need that win.”
Durant coming to the Wizards would be a game-changer. It’s still a year away but it’ll continue being a hot topic until there’s a resolution less than a year from now.
“That’s why the NBA is better than a lot of sports. … In basketball, one or two stars going to a different team, your expectations are different,” said Jared Dudley, who is an unrestricted free agent next summer and acknowledged he might not be around to see what happens first-hand. “This is a star league and he’s a top three player. … Hopefully he does (come to D.C.).”
No. 3: Report: Pelicans bring back Fredette — Just before the start of the 2015-16 season, former lottery pick Jimmer Fredette seemed to have run out of NBA chances after he was cut by the San Antonio Spurs. He was taken No. 2 overall in the NBA D-League draft by the Westchester Knicks and was seemingly on the long path many failed draft picks and NBA hopefuls take. That road didn’t last long for him, though, as Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania reports the 0-6 New Orleans Pelicans are set to bring Fredette back to the team:
Jimmer Fredette – the No. 2 pick in the NBA Development League draft by the Westchester Knicks – has re-signed with the New Orleans Pelicans under the injury hardship exception, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
edette will provide insurance to the Pelicans’ backcourt, with Jrue Holiday still on a playing restriction. The Pelicans weren’t granted an injury exception to sign a player during the first week of the season, but were given one Monday, sources said. New Orleans, hampered by numerous injuries, is off to a 0-6 start this season.
Fredette played 50 games with the Pelicans last year, averaging 3.6 points and 10.2 minutes per game.
Fredette, 26, was waived by the San Antonio Spurs during training camp. He had signed a partially guaranteed contract to compete for an open roster spot, which ultimately went to veteran Rasual Butler.
Fredette’s D-League rights will remain with Westchester.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Golden State Warriors roundly agree they have the ‘best’ bench in the NBA. Do you? … Knee soreness kept Joakim Noah from making what would have been his first start of the season … The Washington Wizards say Bradley Beal’s injury is not serious … How these Detroit Pistons are different from coach Stan Van Gundy‘s Orlando Magic teams of the 2000s … Dwyane Wade is really looking forward to however many clashes he has left with Kobe Bryant … What in the world is wrong with the Memphis Grizzlies this season? … Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was at shootaround and participated in a free throw shooting contest with Stephen Curry … Former NBA player and collegiate star God Shammgod is enjoying his new gig at his alma mater, Providence College … Dewayne Dedmon is making the most of his opportunity with the Orlando Magic …