Posts Tagged ‘Vivek Ranadive’

Rockets likely lead contenders for recently waived Josh Smith

VIDEO: Where might Josh Smith wind up next?

The only way Josh Smith could be more of a target is if he had a glow-in-the-dark bullseye painted on his back.

After all, when the Pistons waived him Monday, he was on pace to become the first NBA player to shoot less than 40 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line while taking at least 12 shots per game.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a line of prospective employers from coast-to-coast as soon as the 11-year veteran hits the free-agent market when he clears waivers on Wednesday.

Here’s a look at the leading candidates:

Rockets — Probably tops on the list. Houston general manager Daryl Morey went after Smith in the summer of 2013, but could not close a sign-and-trade with Atlanta to get a deal done. With Terrence Jones sidelined, the Rockets still have the need for him at the four as a rebounder and long defender and Smith’s penchant for those wild 3-pointers might get lost in Houston’s long distance barrage. Smith could easily envision himself playing for a true title contender this season if he joins a lineup with his good buddy Dwight Howard and NBA leading scorer James Harden. Howard and Smith became close when they played on the same AAU team. Howard was also best man in Smith’s wedding. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets would offer their $2.077 million bi-annual exception. Likely preferred destination.

Mavericks – That in-state Texas rivalry between Dallas and Houston that has already seen Chandler Parsons head north over the summer and then the Mavs win out last week in the Rajon Rondo Derby is only likely to get hotter. With Brandan Wright sent to Boston in the Rondo swap, the Mavs definitely have a need for a big body up front to come off the bench. There’s another personal connection here. Smith and Rondo played on the same Oak Hill Academy high school team. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News caught up with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: “My opinion on Josh Smith? He’s a player whose ability I respect a lot,” Carlisle said. “And he’s had enough big games against us. He’s the kind of guy who can put a team on his back and beat you. He’s done it to us a lot of times. So I don’t know details of what happened there. But he’ll be picked up soon, I know that.” The all-in-for-this-season-Mavs should never be counted out.

Grizzlies – While two straight losses still have Memphis sitting as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the grit and grind Grizzlies are always looking for ways to juice up their offense and get easy baskets. Smith’s size could fit in on an already bruising front line with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and when motivated to run the floor, he can finish and take some of the pressure off to toil through the shot clock for buckets.

Heat — The season-ending injury to Josh McRoberts has Miami crying out for help on the front line and in terms of raw talent, packages like Smith don’t often drop down your chimney at this time of the year. The Heat don’t have that “you’re joining a title contender cachet” as the top three pursuers in the West. But the thought is that Smith could join a lineup that really needs him and he’d be asked to play in a system suited to his skill set and not necessarily one where a squeeze would be needed to make him fit. Miami hopes to get a $2.65 million disabled-player cap exception with McRoberts headed for knee surgery. The Heat would figure they could keep the wild side of Smith’s game under wraps with the influence of team president Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and the on-court presence of veterans Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade among others.

Clippers — When asked about his interest in Smith at the team’s shoot around in San Antonio Monday, coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers simply said: “I don’t know.” The Clippers have been searching for help at the three all season, but would have only have the minimum to offer Smith. Since they are at the 15-man roster limit, they would have to waive a player before they could sign Smith. The personal connection in L.A. is assistant coach Mike Woodson, who was the head man in Atlanta when Smith had his most productive NBA seasons with the Hawks.

Kings – reported last summer that Sacramento tried to trade for Smith, offering various packages that included names such as Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and Carl Landry. At the time it was said to be Kings owner Vivek Ranadive that wanted Smith to team up with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in would certainly have been an oddly-matched Kings’ frontcourt. Sacramento could only afford to offer the veterans minimum of $1.4 million. But the biggest handicap the Kings have compared to the other Western is not being a contender.

Morning shootaround — Dec. 16

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Dec. 15


Kings, Malone were a stylistic mismatch | Monroe denies trade rumors | Bucks win thriller but lose Parker | Blazers lose Lopez for ‘a while

No. 1: Kings, Malone were a stylistic mismatch — Two days after the surprise firing of coach Michael Malone in Sacramento, we’re finally starting to get a few explanations. In a session yesterday with the media, Kings GM Pete D’Allesandro said it didn’t matter what Malone’s record was, it was more about the team’s style of play and philosophy. As Jason Jones writes in the Sacramento Bee

Malone was a coaching disciple of defensive-minded Jeff Van Gundy and Malone’s father, Brendan, an assistant with the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons when they won NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.

But defense is not what the front office or ownership wants to sell to fans.

“It wasn’t about wins and losses,” D’Alessandro said. “I didn’t really care about what our record was. It’s about who we want to be, what we want our identity to be as a team.”

That vision is a team that plays a fast-paced offensive style Tyrone Corbin will try to implement as interim coach.

D’Alessandro would like to see the Kings play like the Rick Adelman-coached Sacramento teams more than a decade ago, when they piled up wins with a dynamic offense – especially with the new downtown arena expected to open in 2016.

“What we’re trying to do is put a style in that reflects the Sacramento fan base, which to us is a free-flowing, up-and-down style of play,” D’Alessandro said. “That’s what we’re striving for; we have time now to install it before we get there. I think it’s going to ignite the arena when we’re playing with the style of play we intend to play with.”

Now the questions are whether the Kings, 11-13 overall and 2-7 without Cousins, have the players to make that style work and direct the team long term.

D’Alessandro wouldn’t commit to Corbin for the rest of the season, though he said Corbin has his support. The Kings are interested in veteran coach George Karl, an analyst for ESPN who was fired by Denver following the 2012-13 season, according to league sources. D’Alessandro worked with Karl in Denver.

Chris Mullin, a Hall of Fame player and an adviser to primary owner Vivek Ranadive, might be interested in the job, league sources said.

Until a permanent coach is hired, Corbin will have the challenge of changing the team’s style.

“It’s so new right now,” Corbin said. “I’m just trying to weather the storm right now and get these guys ready to play a game (Tuesday).”


No. 2: Monroe denies trade rumors — A day after a story in the Sporting News reported that he “badly” wanted to be traded by the Detroit Pistons, both Greg Monroe and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy strongly refuted the rumors that Monroe was on the block. As Vince Ellis writes in the Detroit Free-Press

“They put that stuff out there, say somebody said it and then I got to answer for it, I really don’t have time for that,” Monroe said before tonight’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers.

On the rumors, he added: “It’s getting more irritating. We lost 13 games in row, won a couple of games, and now you got to hear this.”

Sporting News writer Sean Deveney, citing sources, says Monroe “badly” wants out of Detroit and that the team is seeking a first-round pick in return.

He emphatically said he is open to re-signing with the Pistons.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy also denied the aspect of the Sporting News report saying the Pistons were seeking a first-round pick for Monroe. “I don’t know where that stuff comes from,” Van Gundy said. “We haven’t talked to anybody about trading Greg Monroe.”


No. 3: Bucks win thriller but lose Parker — On the one hand, it was a big night for the Milwaukee Bucks in the desert, as they battled the Phoenix Suns and won on a game-winning buzzer beater. But on the other hand, the Bucks had to play most of the second half without rookie of the year candidate and franchise building block Jabari Parker, who went down with a non-contact knee injury and wasn’t able to return. As Charles Gardner writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Parker’s left knee buckled without contact as he made a drive in transition and he was unable to leave the floor under his own power. He was carried off the court by teammates Zaza Pachulia and Johnny O’Bryant.

“As of right now we don’t know anything. They’ll do all the tests tomorrow and we’ll be able to report something then,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after the game.

Pachulia, who played a key role in the Bucks’ comeback victory, said all of Parker’s teammates were wishing him the best.

“I hope he’s going to be OK,” Pachulia said. “He’s a great young player. This team and this organization, the whole city counts on him. He has a lot of years ahead of him in his great career. Injuries are part of the game.

“I hope it’s not anything serious. We are all praying for him.

“It was tough to see your teammate going down and not being able to walk himself. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. The doctor is going to make a decision, obviously. But we want to him to have a speedy recovery, whatever it is. We really need him.”

Parker was driving to the basket but his knee gave way before he had mild contact with the Suns’ P.J. Tucker. A double foul was called on the play but there was little contact to merit that.

Jared Dudley said Parker “is the franchise.”

“He’s young; he’s a rookie,” Dudley said. “The good thing about it is he was smiling when he came in, so that’s always good. He was in, I don’t think it was a cast, but something where you couldn’t bend it, obviously.

“He’ll get an MRI. We’re hoping it’s just a sprain where you get him back in a couple weeks. You don’t want to have anything with him, so keep him in your prayers.”


No. 4: Blazers lose Lopez for ‘a while — Meanwhile in Portland, the Blazers knocked off the defending champion Spurs, but in the process lost starting center Robin Lopez to a fractured hand. According to Portland coach Terry Stotts, Lopez will be out “a while,” and having to make do without Lopez is not something that the Blazers are relishing, writes Joe Freeman for The Oregonian

“I don’t even want to think about having to play without RoLo,” All-Star point guard Damian Lillard said.

Lopez said he wasn’t sure how he suffered the injury, but it looked like he smacked his hand against the back of Boris Diaw‘s head while pursuing a rebound under the hoop. Lopez didn’t show any immediate pain or discomfort and he continued to play with the fracture for a few minutes. Eventually he was pulled from the game, however, and preliminary tests indicated that he fractured his hand in two places.

“At first I thought I just jammed a finger or something,” Lopez said. “I didn’t hear a pop and I didn’t feel any pain or anything. So I was just trying to shake it off. But as play went along, my hand never could regain any strength, so I figured I was more of a liability out there.”

The true liability lies in Lopez’s absence, particularly a lengthy one. In many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the Blazers’ starting lineup, a selfless, rugged, lane-clogging big man who is the unsung hero to their free-wheeling offense and linchpin to their improved defense. Lopez is averaging just 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, but his value is not measured solely in statistics. He’s the team’s best screener, best interior defender and most unselfish player.

How important is he to the Blazers’ success? They are 73-34 with him on the roster and last season — his first in Portland — he was an integral part of the first Blazers team in 14 years to win a playoff series.

“I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it,” LaMarcus Aldridge said, when asked about the prospect of playing without Lopez. “That’s it. I can’t get past I don’t like it.


SOME RANDOM LINKS: Pacers owner Herb Simon says he’d be fine with a trade to bring back Lance Stephenson, but it’s not his call … Billionaire businessman Warren Buffet sat courtside in Cleveland last night to see LeBron James play … Kobe Bryant on passing Michael Jordan and the time he almost quit basketball for soccer … Mike Fratello will remain coach of the Ukraine National Team for at least a few more years … Darko Milicic will make his kickboxing debut later this week …

Morning Shootaround — Oct. 12

VIDEO: The Daily Zap for the Global Games played October 11


Beal’s hurt, Wizards scramble | Parsons packed on pounds | No pressure on Lillard for quick return | NBA seeks to unlock China, India codes

No. 1: Beal’s hurt, Wizards scramble — Bradley Beal is hurt again. Few things tell us it’s NBA season again than the Washington Wizards’ young shooting guard coping with an injury. In his first two NBA seasons, Beal played 56 and 73 games, and worked under a minutes restriction in many of them. Now comes the news that Beal, 21, will be out six to eight weeks with a non-displaced fracture of the scaphoid bone in his left wrist, suffered Friday night in a preseason game against Charlotte. It’s a blow to Washington, a team built around its young backcourt of Beal and John Wall, especially for reasons pointed out by our own David Aldridge in his report:

A source says Beal did not suffer nerve damage in his wrist or have any displacement in the wrist, injuries that would have kept him out much longer than the current expected prognosis.

With Beal out, and veteran Martell Webster still recovering from offseason back surgery, the Wizards would have to turn to Glen Rice Jr., the second-year guard who was the MVP of the Samsung Summer League in Las Vegas this summer, or young veterans like Garrett Temple or Xavier Silas.

The Wizards currently have 14 players under contract, and would be able to add a veteran two guard on a temporary basis if Beal indeed misses significant time. The only vet in which Washington has significant interest at the moment is Ray Allen, who has yet to sign with a team and remains a free agent. Allen’s agent, Jim Tanner, shot down reports earlier this week that Allen was about to sign with the Cavaliers, where he would re-join former Miami teammates LeBron James and Mike Miller.

And here’s some speculation from Ben Standig of

The prospect of being a starter again with Beal’s absence isn’t likely to make Washington any more enticing for Allen. He’ll soon be 40. Six teams have actually contacted his reps since he became an unrestricted free agent — the Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and …. the Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, the latter is not a mistake. Allen spent the first six-plus seasons of his career in Milwaukee, and the franchise’s pitch was a chance to end things where they began. Creative and worth a shot? Yes. Did it work? No. The Wizards are still hopeful, but suffice to say the Cavs are the front-runners as GM David Griffin has been in contact as recently as a few days ago, can confirm. Still, nothing.

The bigger issue isn’t Rice, who only appeared in 11 games as a rookie and had a wrist fracture after a collision with a teammate during a post-game celebration at Madison Square Garden. It’s who will back him up. Garrett Temple is a 6-6 guard but is more of a defender and has been working on being a third point guard this offseason. But he has played with Wall in the backcourt and started in place of Beal previously with moderate success. And remember, last year the Wizards tried then-rookie Otto Porter at shooting guard during summer league. He didn’t look fluid there, though he wasn’t fully healthy either because of his right hamstring/hip flexor strain. If Porter can play some at the No. 2 spot behind Rice, that’ll make navigating this minefield easier.


No. 2: Parsons packed on pounds — Boris Diaw got some notoriety last week for the weight clause his bosses with the San Antonio Spurs negotiated into his contract. It’s a series of incentives to stay sleek that, if met, will pay the frequently well-upholstered Diaw a cool $500,000 by the end of the regular season.
Little did the Dallas Mavericks realize that Chandler Parsons might need one when they put together their offer sheet to the now-former Houston Rockets’ forward. Parsons, a perpetual motion type and rather lean-looking through his first three NBA seasons, has caught flak at least twice so far from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle for being too heavy.
“One man’s bulking up is another man’s not quite in shape yet,” was Carlisle’s response when told that Parsons sought to add muscle in the offseason. The former Rocket even posted a shirtless photo on Instagram to show he still was more fit than, oh, 98.9 percent of the general population. Here’s more from Tim MacMahon of

The 6-foot-9 Parsons, who was listed at 215 pounds in his three-year tenure with the Houston Rockets, reported to training camp at approximately 235 pounds.

Carlisle believes the increased weight has created conditioning issues for Parsons, who had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, six rebounds and six assists in 20 minutes during Friday night’s preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“He looked tired out there tonight to me, and his shot is short,” Carlisle said. “He’s working on losing some weight. He’s a little bit heavier than he’s been. He’s up over 230, and we want to see him get down to at least 225. That’s a work in progress, and tonight’s one of those nights where I think the extra weight was a hindrance.”

Parsons focused particularly on lifting weights during the free-agency process, when he didn’t play basketball to protect himself from injury. Primarily a small forward, Parsons felt he needed to add strength to play significant minutes at power forward, a role he could fill for the Mavs when Dirk Nowitzki rests during the season.

Carlisle has made his opinion clear to Parsons, who doesn’t necessarily agree with his coach on the matter but is willing to shed some weight.

“His opinion of heavy is different than mine,” said Parsons, who shot 1-for-6 from 3-point range against the Thunder. “We kind of go at it every day about it. At the end of the day, I respect his opinion. After training camp, my weight fluctuates. I’ll get it down.”


No. 3: No pressure on Lillard for quick return — No pressure on Lillard for quick return – Preseason? We talking about the preseason? That’s how Allen Iverson might have put it, if asked about the severity of Damian Lillard‘s sore left foot and its implications for the Portland Trail Blazers now and later. Lillard’s foot got stepped on in the Blazers’ first preseason game and caused him to miss the second. His status for Sunday’s tune-up vs. the Clippers was in doubt, too. But it’s nothing over which anyone should fret quite yet, writes Mike Tokito of the [Portland] Oregonian:

Lillard and the Blazers don’t regard the injury — which they are calling a “left foot sprain” after originally listing it as an ankle injury — as serious or a long-term issue.

“I would be able to play if it was a regular-season game, but it’s preseason,” Lillard said. “You don’t want it to be nagging, ongoing throughout the season. It was more precautionary than anything else. I’m just trying to take care of it right now and get it over with. That’s the smartest thing to do.”

Damian Lillard shoots Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard takes shots after practice, which he did not participate in Saturday because of a foot injury.

Lillard said he will see how the foot feels before ruling himself out for Sunday’s game, but feels in no rush to return.


No. 4: NBA seeks to unlock China, India codes — “Global” was a word that got a lot of play when the NBA announced its new broadcast and digital mega-deals last week with Turner Broadcasting and ABC/ESPN. It’s no secret that China and India, representing two massive and largely untapped consumer markets for the league, figure prominently in the business model the NBA and its partners will be pursuing between now and 2025. Of course, it all might go more smoothly and at a little faster pace if India had a known-quantity NBA star around whom its fans could rally and China had one to extend the kick-start it got from Yao Ming. Extending the NBA’s brand worldwide was the topic of Stuart Leavenworth‘s piece in the Sacramento Bee, pegged to the league’s Global Games this fall and filed from Shanghai:

Give it some time, say NBA officials and owners. Vivek Ranadive, an India-born Silicon Valley tycoon who led the purchase of the Sacramento Kings last year for $535 million, says that, in a country as big as China, new stars are out there. He added that the NBA and China are partnering on several initiatives to tap into the top talent, including basketball camps led by none other than Yao Ming.

In China, the system is mainly in the hands of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), which was formed in 1994 and now has 20 teams. There is also the second-tier National Basketball League, for men, and a Women’s Chinese Basketball Association.

According to the Chinese Basketball Association, there are 300 million people in China playing basketball regularly, slightly less than the entire population of the United States. But high schools and sports leagues don’t identify talent early enough and give them the team skills essential for basketball…

Lack of venues is another obstacle for the NBA’s expansion plans. Shanghai and Beijing have NBA-quality arenas, but other major cities don’t have the means, or the year-round demand, to build modern entertainment palaces.

Like other NBA owners, Ranadive wants to develop a Chinese-language app for China to broaden his team’s fan base. Ranadive is a leading proponent of what he calls “NBA 3.0,” using technology to network fans and the team. His perfect app, he says would let fans see instant replays, crowd-source suggestions for the team and even deliver food and beverages to ticket holders at the press of a button.

Ranadive, who made part of his fortune from TIBCO Software, a company he started in 1997, says that India holds unlimited potential. He and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver are leading a league mission there next month. Ranadive said he recently met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in advance of the mission.

Asked whether India is ready for basketball, with its cramped cities, grinding poverty and near-devotion to cricket, Ranadive noted that India is rising faster than many realize. Makeshift courts are popping up across the country.

“Basketball is a game that can be played anywhere, by anyone — rich, poor, boys and girls,” he said. “You don’t need a lot of space to play basketball, as you do with cricket. So I really think basketball is poised to take off.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Members of the Miami Heat sounded relieved to have their big LeBron James reunion game behind them in Brazil. … Maybe Toronto’s Bruno Caboclo isn’t “two years away from being two years away” after all. … Alexey Shved thinks he’ll find the climate in Philadelphia preferable to Minnesota, for his game anyway. … Kyrie Irving is buying Daniel Gibson‘s house. … Boston’s Rajon Rondo did some shooting (but don’t get carried away). …

Kings Start Off Season With Extraordinary Game

VIDEO: Kings open 2013-14 season with some flair

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two thousand two hundred forty-eight.

Two thousand two hundred forty-eight previous regular season and playoff games in Sacramento Kings history, 1,161 at the original Arco Arena barn followed by Arco II/Power Balance Pavilion/Sleep Train Arena, and never has there been anything like the one played Wednesday night. No. 2,249.

And counting.

It was another game, except that it wasn’t. It was the opener of the season that wasn’t supposed to be, with 17,317 customers in the building representing the hundreds of thousands from the region who were not. This was a celebration of beating Seattle and beating the odds much more than beating the Nuggets 90-88 to start campaign No. 29 in California’s capital city.

The greatest comeback in NBA history complete by overcoming the strong bid to buy the Kings and move them to Washington state, a passionate fan base danced on the unused grave a lot of others built for them.  It had screamed its redemption before, when the Board of Governors denied the Seattle bid on May 15 and again when the unpopular Maloof family sold the team to a group headed by Vivek Ranadive, but that was different. That was the offseason. Wednesday night was the tangible: their team back on the court.

Jerry Reynolds, with the franchise ever since the move from Kansas City as a coach, executive and, now, television analyst, spoke for the masses when when he said, “It’s a new beginning. It really is. I really equate it to the first home game in the history of the Sacramento Kings. The excitement and the optimism looking forward and all that, and I think that’s exactly where we are 28 years later. New owners, new front office, new coaching staff, a change in players. And more importantly, it’s a new enthusiasm for our fans. I go to the grocery store and people want to the talk basketball with me, and it’s different. It goes back to, ‘Wow, we’ve got our team. It’s our team.’ ”

It was a basketball game, and so much more.

“Oh, yeah,” Reynolds said. “No question. It’ll be nice to get to where it is basketball moments, but right now, it’s just way more than that.”

Minority owner Shaquille O’Neal showed up and, obviously delirious while caught up in the moment, started talking playoffs and even the No. 6 spot in the Western Confetence. (He also said of some former teammates who actually did make the postseason and then some: “There’s a lot of guys on that Lakers team that couldn’t play. Couldn’t play at all.”) Mitch Richmond, the former Kings All-Star who also owns a small portion, was there. So was advisor Chris Mullin, the ex-Warriors great among the many Golden State connections in the new-look Kings. John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, came from Massachusetts. Mayor Kevin Johnson, the biggest local hero, the mayor who made Season 29 possible, was of course in attendance.

Commissioner David Stern was too. He walked the purple carpet set up for the occasion outside one of the entrances, high-fived some fans and shook hands with others. He generally got a hero’s welcome after many years of being wrongly cast as a villain in the raging Sacramento inferiority complex that the NBA was out to get the small market. It was never close to true – the reality is the Kings would have been gone long ago if Stern didn’t keep standing in the way.

Now that the NBA had backed the California capital, what may be his final trip to town before his retirement was as a hero. He got a loud ovation between the first and second quarters, as he stood at center court with Johnson on his left and Ranadive on the right and received the key to the city from Johnson. The mayor also declared Oct. 30 as David Stern Day, indicating it would be a permanent distinction and not simply this Oct. 30.

“I would say that we have a pretty appreciative group of fans here,” Stern said when asked about his new popularity. “For the NBA. I don’t take it all personally. The owners did the right thing. They had a vote to cast and they cast it in favor of Sacramento. They did it because of what the mayor and the new ownership promised and Senator (Darrell) Steinberg (a representative from Sacramento and president pro tempore of the state senate) promised and the city council promised. Every promise was kept that was made to the NBA and the NBA kept its promise that if these things happened we’ll keep the team here. It’s a grand bargain in the best possible sense.

“This is a very important opening night, and I go to important opening nights. Expansions. Rings. New buildings. And new beginnings. And this is a new beginning, just as I went to Memphis last year on opening night because they had new ownership. I try to get all of the places where there’s new ownership, but I also try to get to places that are worthy beyond that even of celebrating. This is a celebration of the Sacramento fans and what they’ve meant to the league and to this franchise.”

The game was broadcast live in India, Ranadive’s birthplace. The Kings dancers did a routine to Indian music and in native dress. Johnson hugged Stern with a stronger hit than KJ put on Magic Johnson when they rumbled in the Suns-Lakers days, jostling the commissioner. Ranadive presented Stern with a construction helmet to signify the planned new downtown arena. The crowd cheered everything, including, and deservedly, itself.

No, there definitely had never been anything like it. It was the night the city had been waiting for. It was Game 2,249 and Season 29 after all.

VIDEO: Thompson’s board work helps seal thrilling opening win for Kings

Kings Go All-In With DeMarcus Cousins


And so it turns out the last three seasons of DeMarcus Cousins vs. Himself, an epic showdown without a winner, was nothing more than a warmup. Spending the No. 5 pick in the 2010 Draft on Cousins was a pocket-change investment for the Kings.

The real drama begins now, with news the Kings and Cousins have agreed to a four-year, $62-million extension, a deal first reported by the Sacramento Bee. This is going to be a great ride.

If Cousins, the team’s mercurial center, finally learns how to get out of his own way, the new management team headed by owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D’Alessandro has made a move of foresight that will save millions compared to what Cousins could have commanded as a restricted free agent next summer. They will have secured one of the better talents among big men — though not the most-talented big in the game, not even close — and the franchise will take a giant step forward. They will have cornered the futures market.

If this turns out to be more of the same with Cousins, DMC on a loop, the crater will be much larger than anything seen before in Sacramento. The Kings are on the hook for a lot more money now. They’re reducing the chance to offload Cousins, if Cousins remains Cousins. There is no such thing as a low-risk investment anymore.

In what should be the greatest concern for the Kings, this signing was more about emotion than basketball tangibles. Ranadive drove this with a very public commitment to Cousins before the GM, the guy with the basketball background, had been hired. The outcome will be determined by Cousins’ maturity and whether he can find the stability necessary to reach his potential and better get along with teammates.

With the opportunity to spend a season evaluating Cousins in a fresh environment and the advantage of him being a restricted free agent in July 2014, management instead moved now on the logic that, “Things will be different now. Just because.” The Kings have pledged eternal love. How could Cousins possibly not reciprocate in kind?

For months, every Ranadive statement regarding Cousins has included some version of how much the team believes in him, how Cousins was the first player Ranadive called after the sale of the Kings, and how Cousins is the future of the organization. Management’s vision is that DMC will rise to the occasion because he feels the warmth (though the previous administration made the same embrace).

They see no risk in $62 million over four years.

“I don’t see it that way,” Ranadive said a few days ago. “In some ways every decision you make is a risk. There are risks in games. Somebody could get hurt. Anything could happen. This is a young man of amazing talent. Few big men have that kind of talent. He’s healthy. He’s energized right now. He’s a very smart man. I’m excited.”

Report: Cousins, Kings Agree To Extension


From staff reports

At 6-foot-11, Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins boasts a repertoire of moves that make him one of the league’s emerging low-post players. Aside from those traditional big man skills, Cousins can handle the ball (just check out the play above), shoot with range, finish with power and make a crafty dish or two, too.

Those talents give him the look of a future franchise player and of someone the Kings weren’t about to let walk away in free agency. According to the Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Jones, who first reported the news, the Kings and Cousins have agreed to a four-year, roughly $62 million extension. Per collective bargaining agreement rules, Cousins, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2010 Draft, and the Kings had until Oct. 31 to reach an agreement on an extension.

The Kings have reached an agreement on a contract extension with center DeMarcus Cousins for four years worth approximately $62 million, league sources confirmed Thursday night.

The most Cousins was eligible for under the collective bargaining agreement was five years and $80 million. The contract takes effect for the 2014-15 season.

Cousins averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds last season, slightly down from the 18.1 points and 11 rebounds in his second season.

Cousins was one of eight players to average at least 17 points and nine rebounds last season. Dwight Howard, Al Horford, David Lee, Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love were the others. At 23, Cousins is the youngest in the group, and he and Jefferson are the only two who have not made an All-Star team.

Cousins joins the Pacers’ Paul George, the Bucks’ Larry Sanders and the Wizards’ John Wall as players from the 2010 Draft who signed long-term extensions this offseason.

The Kings’ move to lock up Cousins may be seen as somewhat of a risk, given his many off-the-court incidents (he was suspended twice last season alone) throughout his career. But Cousins has apparently received votes of confidence from those who matter most: new owner Vivek Ranadive, new part-owner Shaquille O’Neal and new general manager Pete D’Alessandro. O’Neal, for one, specifically mentioned Cousins several times during his introductory news conference on Tuesday, while Ranadive and D’Alessandro have chimed recently as well, writes Marc Stein of

D’Alessandro, who has been scouting the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia, returned to Sacramento this week to join Ranadive in resuming negotiations in earnest Thursday with Cousins’ agents Dan Fegan and Jarrin Akana.

Cousins has averaged 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds while frequently flashing his unique gifts for a player his size, but he has also led or been near the league lead in fouls committed throughout a career marked by defensive struggles. Cousins’ volatility has likewise resulted in multiple suspensions, including a team-imposed ban last December for what the Kings termed unprofessional behavior, which is largely why Sacramento insisted on a four-year deal instead of a full five-year max.

But the consistent praise Cousins has received from Ranadive since his ownership group won the battle with Seattle to keep the franchise in Sacramento had made it widely assumed in league circles that the Kings were prepared to make a long-term commitment to the 23-year-old. Sacramento is now banking on the notion that the security it has extended, as part of the fresh-start feel circulating throughout the entire organization, will lead to a more plugged-in Cousins.

After announcing the addition of future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal as a minority owner and mentor to Cousins earlier this week, Ranadive told USA Today Sports: “I don’t want to say anything premature [about an extension], but I’ve been constant in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They’re out there practicing on their own every day and he’s out there leading those practices. He’s out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. [The players] all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that’s ever happened.

“So ‘Dr. O’Neal’ and I are going to have dinner with him on Monday night, and Dr. O’Neal is going to spend a couple of days with him and the team. So I’m very, very pleased with everything that I’m seeing.”

With Cousins in the fold long term and a core that includes guards Greivis Vasquez, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, rookie Ben McLemore and veteran forwards Luc Mbah a Moute, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, Sacramento is piecing together a team that may make some noise out West sooner than we think.


Kings Moving Forward With India Plans


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Kings have started talks with the NBA and officials in India about playing an exhibition game in the native country of new owner Vivek Ranadive as soon as next season, Ranadive said.

The connection between the league’s desire to generate a larger presence in the second-most populous nation in the world and the emotional link for Ranadive comes as the Kings announce that the Oct. 30 season opener against the Nuggets will be televised live in India, with plans for a viewing party in Bombay.

“In India, there’s a billion people,” Ranadive said. “When they have a cricket match, there’s 600 million people watching. If we got a small fraction of that, that would still be a very big number.”

Having NBA teams play there, though, is far more problematic because of the lack of arenas at NBA standards. That would be the biggest obstacle for the Kings in India in October 2014.

“We have to find the right facility,” Ranadive said. “Right now they don’t have one. But we have a year and the NBA is very, very supportive about building the brand in India.”

Even though a year is extremely fast for this sort of project?

“I think it’s realistic,” Ranadive said. “We’re building a new arena (in Sacramento) and that will be done in three years. We’re very aggressive and ambitious.”

Blogtable: The Big Front Office Dude

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Making Training Camp Count | Shaq, The Owner | It’s The Name On The Back

Shaquille O'Neal, Vivek Ranadive

Shaquille O’Neal, Vivek Ranadive (Rocky Widner/NBAE)

Shaquille O’Neal is now an owner of the Sacramento Kings. Thoughts on how this will play out?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comOwners are overrated. No offense to the Forbes 400 set, but the best owners in sports are the ones who hire the right presidents, general managers and coaches and let them do their jobs. If Shaq were a big-man coach or a GM, he’d have a unique impact on the Kings (and presumably DeMarcus Cousins). But as an “owner,” he’s just another guy with a fat wallet. Maybe he’s buying himself a high-priced apprenticeship to learn front-officing for a future team and role. Or maybe it’s all a set-up for a reality TV show.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comShaq is the icing for this new optimistic and opportunistic Kings ownership group and front office as they attempt to resuscitate the franchise. There’s few bigger names in the game than Shaq, no larger personality to shine attention on a woebegone basketball team. He might even punk DeMarcus Cousins a time or two, and that would be funny. It will be interesting, however, to see just how vocal a typically filter-less Shaq will be, win or lose, but especially if the transitioning Kings continue to play like the, um, “Queens,” of the past half-decade.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI predict he will demand more touches. Oh, wait. That was the old Shaq. This one will work fine as long as he doesn’t start calling out players, coaches or executives. In other words, it may not work out fine. Maybe it’s a new day as O’Neal moves into a new role. Maybe he beats the odds and stays low key. If that happens, he can do a couple years and turn it into a larger role somewhere else. The Kings will have benefitted from the marketing, as well, and everyone goes home happy.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIt’s interesting, but I don’t know how important it is. As the majority owner, Vivek Ranadive is the most important person in that organization, because success in the NBA starts at the top. And after him, it’s GM Pete D’Alessandro, because you need talent to win and right now, this team doesn’t have enough of it. If the new Kings are still the old Kings on the court, it won’t matter what Shaq is doing. Sacramento fans are great and a new arena will be a boost for the franchise, but current stars will fill those seats better than a retired one.

Sekou Smith, Things can only get better for the Kings, who have languished in basketball purgatory for the past few years. And no offense to Shaq, but the franchise has another big man who is far more important to their future. The Kings need Cousins to be their center of attention now and for years to come. If adding Shaq to the ownership group means Cousins has someone inside of the organization he respects, someone whose voice carries weight with him as a mentor, then this whole #Shaqramento thing could pay off down the road. The attention spike for the Kings with Shaq on board is evident and already in play (the Kings got positive vibes across the basketball universe with Tuesday’s announcement). But when the novelty wears off, that other big man is the one who will have to carry the Kings.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: I think in a perfect world, Shaq becomes a public face and voice for the Kings ownership. Not that new majority owner Vivek Ranadive isn’t capable of doing this on his own, but Shaq is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and at the very least his involvement should give Sacramento a dose of much-needed excitement. In some ways it would be interesting to see Shaq take a role almost like a Vice President takes in the debate season, and becoming the person who takes shots at opposing teams. Because if anyone can talk a big game, it’s the Diesel.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: It’s still difficult to think about Shaq not as a basketball player. But the Kings are a interesting organization in development right now, and the Big Diesel could help them out in making the right calls. I’m not only talking about mentoring Cousins, the best talent in Capitol City, Calif., but bringing the winning mentality Shaq had throughout his whole career.

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: I’m really looking forward to this. The NBA was a great place when the Kings were relevant, and I’m optimistic that the franchise is moving in the right direction. New ownership, new coach, new front office — and now Shaq and a new arena in a couple of years: This will all help to bring the Kings back to where they were a decade ago. And Shaq might also help turn Cousins into the franchise player that he is supposed to be. Great news all around.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: Putting Shaq in the mix (in any mix) is always fun. And interesting. The team former known as “Sacramento Queens” (Shaquille’s words, not mine) has a new boss. Even if he is part owner, Shaq is the real deal — the true superstar — and everybody should be excited to have him around the hardwood once again. And because of what might come out of him, to be honest, I don’t know if it will better (from a fan’s perspective) if the Kings win or lose from the start.

Big Deal For Kings Is Bigger For Shaq


SHAQRAMENTO, Calif. – First things first: This is a lot about show.

For all the attention the purchase is receiving, Shaquille O’Neal may merely have bought a sliver of the Kings, and anyone counting on O’Neal to be the turning point in DeMarcus Cousins’ maturing clearly never paid attention to Shaq as a player. Maturity was not exactly his game.

But new owner Vivek Ranadive has wanted big splashes since taking over, and O’Neal in the masthead is definitely that. There will be a new layer of attention, even if it is followed, someday, by the minority owner verbally trampling a player, coach or executive. Ranadive has his latest big splash, and this will be viewed as a great moment in Sacramento’s planned NBA’s revival.

The real value of the deal, first reported Monday by USA Today, is to O’Neal. This becomes one of the first steps in his move from Hall of Fame-bound center to the front office.

He has been aiming for ownership for years, and not in the usual way of thinking out loud that long ago became the O’Neal norm. This was a specific plan with no less of a partner than the very grounded Grant Hill. The two were game-planning the future when they were Suns teammates for part of 2007-08 and all 2008-09, two Orlando residents talking to other potential investors and thinking about a run at the Magic after retirement. Shaq would have been the general manager with a grander title.

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal (Bruce Yeung/NBAE)

Hill didn’t leave the game until after his Suns tenure, and owning the Magic never came close to happening. But O’Neal remained on the lookout. The Kings are an ironic, even humorous, landing spot. Especially for someone who during his Lakers day called out the team as the “Queens” and became an enemy of Sacramento, still probably a fraction behind Rick Fox and Phil Jackson. It has already been said by many others, but is so very true: Shaq will now own the Kings in another way.

Actually, the Kings are an ideal spot. In a lot of other places, O’Neal — never the silent partner type — would have been used for what he spent to buy in and what he could generate as an attention-getter. In Sacramento, he will be heard far more than in a franchise with a front-office structure already locked in place.

In Sacramento, he will have the chance to be part of real change.

“What interested me in this deal is the new vision, the new Kings, the new everything,” O’Neal told USA Today. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this … It’s going to be great.”

Plus, he steps into a win-win role on the court. If the Kings get a new Cousins — one who is focused, one who is not causing locker-room dissension — Shaq will blindly be handed a large portion of credit. And if Cousins remains the eternal problem … well, good try. No one else could reach him either.

“DeMarcus is so excited at just the thought that [Shaq] is going to be talking to him, going to be spending time with him, going to be watching him, on the practice court, that he just can’t contain himself,” Ranadive told USA Today. “When he first heard that [Shaq] was looking at becoming an investor in the Kings, he just texted me and said, ‘Can I please, please reach out to [Shaq]?’ ”

An report says that Cousins and the Kings are nearing an extension  that could be finished by the start of training camp next week.

O’Neal will think about becoming a general manager somewhere, now boosted by the additional background of having been in a front office. He will almost certainly still think about turning this role into a larger ownership stake somewhere else down the line.

This is an attention-getter for the Kings and an opportunity for him.

[Editor’s note — A Turner Sports spokesman had this to say about O’Neal’s work with TNT and NBA TV and his new role with the Kings: “We have the utmost confidence in Shaquille, as we do with all of our on-air talent, to serve our viewers with objective analysis and opinions when they are on the air.  Shaq’s role with the Sacramento Kings does not change our expectations.”]

Silver: NBA Won’t Hold Hansen’s Sacramento Acts Against Seattle

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver says Chris Hansen's recent tactics won't haunt him.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver says Chris Hansen’s recent tactics won’t haunt him.

Sure it seems a little sleazy, writing a fat check under cover of darkness in an attempt to sabotage your competition. Billionaire Chris Hansen’s secret contribution to a group trying to thwart the construction of a new Sacramento arena – even after Hansen had lost his bid to buy and move the Kings to Seattle – smacked of gutter tactics, like Alex Rodriguez allegedly throwing other PED users under the MLB bus or the old Committee to Re-Elect The President [CREEP] of Watergate and Woodward-Bernstein fame.

But just because something isn’t sporting, old chaps, doesn’t mean that it’s going to get in the way of smart business.

A proper sense of perspective figures to prevail if and when Hansen, on behalf of Seattle, attempts again to return the NBA to that city. That perspective looks something like this:

  • $80,000 < $509 billion.

Every day of the week and twice on Sunday, as a matter of fact.

Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner and the man who will slide over one spot when David Stern retires Feb. 1 after 30 years in the job, assured Seattle reporters that Hansen’s bit of chicanery likely would not be a deal breaker if he were to make another bid for an NBA team, via either relocation or expansion.

Hansen and two political consultants agreed Monday to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose the donation for a petition effort on behalf of arena opponents. Its goal: Force a citywide vote on Sacramento’s $258 million in public subsidy to the project. Hansen’s bid of $625 million was rejected by the NBA Board of Governors, who chose as Kings buyers a group led by Vivek Ranadive for $535 million.

The anti-arena donation, which violated California campaign-disclosure laws, raised some eyebrows over Hansen’s tactics but probably won’t place hurdles in front of a renewed Seattle effort, should Hansen still be involved, reported Percy Allen of the Seattle Times:

“I would say it won’t affect Seattle’s chances,” Silver said Sunday in Springfield, Mass., before the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony. “I haven’t talked to Chris since those allegations came out. I think as he said, he got caught up in the moment.”

Silver also said:

“We have a lot of competitive owners in the league,” he said “I’m sure all of that will be put behind us.”

To put it another way: NBA owners didn’t get to be multi-millionaires and billionaires by letting little ethical hiccups get in the way of megadeals. Hansen’s ploy was bad form, embarrassing and worthy of some tsk-tsking in the mahogany-paneled inner sanctum. But a hastily stroked, pull-no-punches check for $80,000 isn’t about to scuttle a deal that could deliver a half billion dollar (or more) windfall as an expansion fee to be divvied up among the current 30 teams (that is the Forbes 2013 average franchise value, which was how Charlotte was valued when it entered in 2004). Or an even bigger payday for one of the league’s poorer sisters, moving the revenue-sharing NBA back into the USA’s No. 12 TV market.

The NBA, through Stern and the Governors, has been known to drive home political, financial and even ethical points before. It took a stand, some would say, choosing the lower bid so the Kings could stay in Sacramento. (And it did not, Seattle fans might allege, in allowing Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett to abscond with SuperSonics in the first place.)

But if Hansen remains the most viable option as a deep-pocketed Seattle owner, and the best candidate to land the $200 million subsidies for a new $490 million arena, there’s no way the NBA and its owners snub him. A Sonics redux would be good for business, with a lot more zeroes involved than the regrettable check Hansen cut.