DeMarcus Cousins Trade for Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried?

demarcus-cousins-tradeAn increasing number of reports indicate that George Karl wants the Sacramento Kings to trade their All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. And a very likely landing destination for Cousins could be the Denver Nuggets.

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Karl would like to get point guard Ty Lawson and forward Kenneth Faried in exchange for Cousins. Theoretically, Karl would have the power to make this deal, considering that he’s allowed to make draft picks and “some” trades. However, owner Vivek Ranadive is reportedly blocking any Cousins trade at this time. Here’s a look at comments that Ranadive made to USA Today earlier this week:

“I have no idea where that’s (trade rumors) coming from. But if you like, you should talk to [Kings vice president of basketball and franchise operations] Vlade [Divac], because I know Vlade feels exactly the same way. And I’m deferring to Vlade on everything. We have no interest in moving him. From my perspective, it’s really simple: We feel that he’s a one-of-a-kind player, and we have a group of players right now and we’re going to build on it.”

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Karl has been trying to get Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and several players to back him in convincing Ranadive that Cousins should be traded. Towards the end of last season, Karl stated that any player on the Sacramento roster was available for trade. It then got around to Cousins that Karl was interested in shopping him before the 2015-16 NBA season begins.

demarcus-cousins-trade-1Now there are rumors that the head coach and Cousins haven’t spoken to each other in months. So to try and facilitate this relationship in training camp next season might be a disaster. But on the other hand, Ranadive is very high on the 6’11” center, namely because he can do it all, as his numbers suggest: 24.1 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG and 3.6 APG. So until the owner is on board, it looks like Cousins is staying put for the time being.

This puts Karl and other Sacramento front office members in an awkward position because if they are allowed to trade Cousins, they’d need to get considerable value back. And while Karl is high on Lawson, the Lawson/Faried combo doesn’t seem like enough to consider this trade a win.

The one thing that Sacramento ownership and Karl seem on the same page with is the direction of the team. Ranadive doesn’t want to rebuild since his team will soon be moving into a new arena. And Karl is closing in on Don Nelson’s record for the most NBA regular-season wins in history. So compiling draft picks and developing young players doesn’t interest him in any trade scenario.

That would make it very hard for the L.A. Lakers to get Cousins. The Lakers seem to have the most interest in him, but their main asset right now is the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft. In fact, the Kings may get rid of their own No. 6 pick in order to bring in a solid veteran player. Other teams pursuing Cousins include the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, and both will also have a difficult time finding the veteran assets that could help Sacramento win now.

In other potential moves, the Kings are interested in signing free agent Rajon Rondo as well as dealing Rudy Gay. Rondo is also interested in the Kings, but they would need to free up some more money to sign him this off season. As for Gay, he’s had two very good seasons in Sacramento along with a friendly 3-year, $40 million deal. So he’s been drawing plenty of interest from other teams this summer.

NBA Power Rankings for April 4th, 2013

lebron-jamesIn the last power rankings that we ran, Miami was in the midst of the second longest win streak in NBA history. Unfortunately, this run ended on March 27th in a very physical game with the Chicago Bulls. Following the streak ending, the Heat eventually dropped another contest to the New York Knicks as Carmelo Anthony scored 50 points. Of course, this by no means negates a 27-game win streak, which is why Miami is easily still our number one team. Make sure to check out how the rest of the NBA’s top clubs are faring right now in our power rankings.

1. Miami Heat (58-16) – While Miami has gone 2-2 over the past four contests, it’s worth noting that both of these losses came to solid playoff teams. Furthermore, they beat San Antonio on the road, which is the second ranked club in this week’s power rankings. All in all, it’s virtually a lock that Miami will end the regular season as our top team – barring any major collapses. Don’t expect a collapse to happen since home games against Boston and Chicago are the only real tests left for the Heat.

2. San Antonio Spurs (56-19) – The Spurs failed to generate any buzz as the league’s best team when they lost to Miami at home. Furthermore, they dropped the next contest to Memphis. Things don’t get any easier either because San Antonio plays at Oklahoma City tonight. Tony Parker is a lock for the All-NBA First Team after averaging 20.9 PPG (on 53% shooting) and 7.6 APG. However, any chances of him wrestling the MVP award away from LeBron James vanished during a 12-point, 4-for-14 shooting performance in the Heat loss.

andre-miller3. Denver Nuggets (51-24) – Denver may be behind Oklahoma City in the standings, but they’ve beaten the Thunder twice within the past five weeks. That said, it only makes sense to put the Nuggets slightly ahead of Oklahoma City heading into the regular season’s final two weeks. The good news ends here for Denver though because their star, Ty Lawson, is out indefinitely with a torn planter fascia in his right heel. The Nuggets hope that he’s ready to go for the playoffs while Andre Miller does his best to fill in at PG (12.2 PPG, 6.6 APG over the past 10 games).

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20) – While Oklahoma City has played well up to this point, they face some very difficult upcoming tests. First off, they’ll play San Antonio in a big game that could help determine who ends up with the Western Conference’s top record. After this, they play Indiana (road), New York (home), Utah (road), Golden State (road) and Portland (road), which are all good teams. Once the playoffs start, depth will certainly be an issue for the Thunder because their fifth scorer, Thabo Sefolosha, averages just 7.5 PPG.

carmelo-anthony-15. New York Knicks (48-26) – This has definitely been a rocky season for New York, but they are on a major upswing now. The Knicks have won 10 straight games and are currently edging out the Pacers for the East’s number two seed. Carmelo Anthony has definitely been a huge part of this streak since he’s poured in 90 points over the past two contests. Potential Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith is also playing excellent right now too because he’s averaging 23.3 PPG over the last 10 games.

6. Memphis Grizzlies (51-24) – After dropping three out of four games, Memphis is back on the winning track with four straight victories. As usual, defense has been the name of the game since the Grizzlies are holding opponents to 87.5 PPG during the win streak. This club poses a definite threat to whatever team they play in the first round because of their outstanding team D.

7. L.A. Clippers (50-26) – Out of all the teams that we’ve discussed up to this point, Los Angeles is currently struggling the worst. They’ve gone 7-7 over the past 14 contests and haven’t looked like the same team that rattled off 17 straight victories in December. The final seven contests seem fairly light for the Clippers, with only a road game against Memphis looking ominous. Can L.A. recapture their magic in time for the postseason? This will be the big question that defines the success of a year that looked so promising before.

paul-george-pacers8. Indiana Pacers (48-27) – Getting back to the positive side of basketball, Indiana is another team that’s faring quite well. They’ve earned victories in eight of the last nine games and are coasting towards a Central Division title. The only problem is that the New York Knicks are also on fire and staying just ahead of Indianapolis. Only a half game back, it’ll be interesting to see who’s able to grab the East’s second seed, which would mean home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

9. Brooklyn Nets (43-31) – A new arena and move to Brooklyn has definitely done this franchise good! Brooklyn is now guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, and they could secure first round home court advantage by holding off the Hawks over the final eight games. This is certainly a possibility too because the Nets play Eastern Conference bottom-feeders five times during this stretch. Backup PF Reggie Evans continues to impress with his rebounding ability since he’s averaging 17.2 boards over the past five games.

10. Atlanta Hawks (42-34) – Atlanta didn’t play their best basketball in March, but this team is hoping to finish up strong with six contests left in their regular season. However, things won’t be easy with road games against San Antonio and New York left on the schedule. It looks like Al Horford is going to average the first double-double of his six-year career; the 26-year-old is averaging 17.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG.

NBA Power Rankings for March 6th, 2013

tony-parkerAfter the way that the Miami Heat have been playing lately, there’s little suspense about the number one team in our power rankings. Following 15 straight victories, the Heat are looking like a lock to win the East, and they are even challenging the Spurs for the top overall record. Speaking of which, San Antonio is still playing well – it’s just that they’ve been overshadowed by Miami. As for the rest of the top teams in our power rankings, you can check everything out below.

1. Miami Heat (44-14) – It’s pretty difficult to stop Miami when either LeBron James or Dwayne Wade could go off for 30+ points on any night. And that’s exactly what’s been happening during their 15-game win streak since both stars have had some big games lately. In the Heat’s last game against Minnesota, Wade poured in 32 points and dished out 10 assists. As for LeBron, four games ago, he torched the Kings for 40 points and 16 assists. Good luck to the rest of the league come playoff time…

2. San Antonio Spurs (47-14) – After falling down to number two in our last power rankings, San Antonio holds steady at this spot. They lost a disappointing home game to the Phoenix Suns on February 27th after beating them on the road just three days earlier. However, the Spurs have since bounced back by winning contests against Sacramento and Detroit. Tony Parker is being dubbed an MVP candidate behind LeBron since he’s averaging 21.0 PPG and 7.6 APG while shooting 53.3% from the field.

russell-westbrook3. Oklahoma City Thunder (44-16) – The Thunder definitely appear to have put a mid-February three-game losing streak behind them. After all, they’ve won five out of the past six games and beat the Clippers on the road. Thanks to the latter victory, Oklahoma is still holding onto the second spot in the West. Russell Westbrook has played out of his mind during the recent win streak since he’s averaging over 32 points in the last six games.

4. L.A. Clippers (43-19) – Los Angeles is still sitting two games behind Oklahoma City for the second seed in the West. And this is a very important battle because these two clubs could be meeting in the playoffs’ second round, where home court advantage will be huge. Based on their fairly mild remaining schedule, it’s certainly possible that the Clippers could overtake the Thunder; however, they missed out on a big opportunity after getting beat by Oklahoma City at home.

5. Indiana Pacers (38-22) – The Pacers have been a really interesting story as the season has moved along. They got off to a very sluggish start over the first two months, but played great in January and February. Will the good times continue in March? Well so far there’s been no sign of trouble after victories over Toronto and Chicago. Paul George scored 22 points to lead Indiana over the Raptors, while David West poured in 31 points during the Bulls win. And this perfectly exemplifies the solid one-two punch that these two have provided Indiana all year.

tayshaun-prince6. Memphis Grizzlies (39-19) – Defying all logic, Memphis continues to remain among the Western Conference powers after trading leading scorer Rudy Gay. They have claimed victory in nine out of the last 10 games, and the only loss was a road contest in Miami. Defense has been the name of the game during this excellent streak since the Grizzlies have held six opponents under 90 points over the past 10 contests. Is the addition of Tayshaun Prince a big sole reason for this lock-down defense? It’s a stretch to say that, but he’s certainly been an integral part of the strong defensive effort.

7. Denver Nuggets (40-22) – The Nuggets move up a spot since they’re in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Victories against Portland (road), the Lakers, Oklahoma City and Atlanta have stood out during this stretch. The offense seems to be going through Ty Lawson more and more lately since he’s scoring 23.8 PPG over the past 10 contests – up from his season average of 16.6 PPG. On the other hand, Danilo Gallinari’s production (16.6 PPG) has taken a hit since he’s averaging just 11.7 PPG over the same period.

8. New York Knicks (36-21) – After being passed by Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings, New York has remained close to the Pacers and are only a half game back. The biggest reason why they’re hanging tough is because they have won four out of the past five games. The only fairly impressive victory during this stretch was against Golden State, but the Knicks are racking up wins nonetheless. New York might have the NBA’s best bench since it features J.R. Smith (16.1 PPG), Amar’e Stoudemire (13.9 PPG), Rasheed Wallace (7.2 PPG).

9. Chicago Bulls (34-26) – Ever since the beginning of February, Chicago has been struggling. They have dropped 9 out of the past 15 games and are tied with Brooklyn for the fourth playoff seed. They did get a nice boost though after beating the Nets on March 2nd. The game before that, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Joakim Noah had a very impressive triple-double as he scored 23 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. He’s quietly been the Bulls’ all-around MVP in a season without Derrick Rose.

10. Brooklyn Nets (34-26) – Just like Chicago, the Nets have had a rough time lately after losing four of the last five contests. All of the losses were against decent teams, but that doesn’t exactly take the sting away. There are still plenty of bright spots for this club though, including the outstanding rebounding of Reggie Evans. The undersized power forward is averaging 9.3 RPG in just 22 minutes per game, and he’s averaged 10.8 RPG in the past five games.

NBA Power Rankings for February 23rd, 2013

serge-ibakaThe defending champion Miami Heat have really started to take form in February. They’ve now won nine straight games, including victories over the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. The hot streak doesn’t look to end any time soon either because Miami has some easy home games coming up. This being said, we had to put the Heat on top this week in our NBA power rankings. However, there were a couple of other teams who are right on Miami’s trail for the best overall ranking so let’s discuss all of this below.

1. Miami Heat (38-14) – LeBron James has definitely been the biggest catalyst in the Heat’s great month. He’s averaging 30.2 PPG in February, which is up three points from his season average of 27.2 PPG. The big challenge come playoff time will be finding reliable bench production. Ray Allen has averaged 10.8 PPG off the bench, but he’s only scoring 7.6 PPG this month and is shooting 31.1% from the field.

2. San Antonio Spurs (44-13) – It’s hard picking a number one team when you also factor in how successful the Spurs have been lately. They’ve gone 16-2 since early January and have held the league’s best record for two weeks. And they’ll finally be ending a nine-game road trip in Phoenix tomorrow night, which means a friendly home stretch is coming up. Tony Parker is quite possibly having the best season of his 11-year career with 21.1 PPG, 7.6 APG and 53.6% shooting.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-15) – The Thunder finally ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. Based on their recent struggles, Oklahoma City has now fallen behind the Spurs by three games in the Western Conference race. So it’ll be interesting to see how they respond over the final 27 games of the season. Serge Ibaka has really improved his offensive role with the team in averaging 13.3 PPG and shooting 55.6% from the field. Of course, he’s still providing excellent defense too with 3.0 BPG.

chauncey-billups4. Los Angeles Clippers (39-18) – After suffering through a terrible stretch from mid-January to early February – where they lost 8 out of 11 games – the Clippers appear to be back on track. They’ve now won four out of the past five games, with the lone loss being to the Spurs. Chauncey Billups returned from a long injury layoff during this stretch and is giving the team a big boost with 10.4 PPG and 44.4% three-point shooting.

5. Indiana Pacers (34-21) – Just last week, we predicated that the Pacers would soon take over the Eastern Conference’s number two spot. And this came true in a major way after Indiana thumped New York by 26 points. Paul George (17.7 PPG) was huge in this game as he scored 27 points and carried the Pacers to victory. David West (17.2 PPG) has also come up big in plenty of games this season, giving Indiana a nice one-two punch.

6. Memphis Grizzlies (36-18) – Who’d have thought that the Grizzlies would be firmly entrenched in the West’s number four spot after trading away their leading scorer, Rudy Gay. They’ve now grabbed six straight tony-allenvictories and are getting more offense out of starting SG Tony Allen, who’s averaging 11.6 PPG and shooting 57.5% in February. Traditionally known for his defense, Allen is having a career revival in Memphis.

7. New York Knicks (32-20) – The aforementioned 26-point loss to the Pacers isn’t the only problem that the Knicks have had lately. They’ve dropped four straight games and fallen out of the Eastern Conference’s top two spots for the first time this year. Unfortunately, Amar’e Stoudemire’s return hasn’t quite provided the boost New York has been looking for in the win-loss column – although he is averaging 13.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG.

8. Denver Nuggets (34-22) – The Nuggets continue to fall down our power rankings after losing four out of the past five contests. Losses to Toronto and Washington have really hurt Denver’s bid to grab home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, you can’t really blame any of this on PG Ty Lawson (16.2 PPG) since he’s played incredible and is averaging 23.0 PPG and 9.0 APG in February.

9. Brooklyn Nets (33-23) – Brooklyn recently went on a good run after beating Indiana, Milwaukee (twice) and Denver – before finally losing to the Rockets last night. Brook Lopze continues to impress in his fifth season with 18.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.1 BPG. He’s especially stepped up his scoring production in February after contributing 20.1 PPG this month. You can bet that Lopez is still carrying a chip on his shoulder after not making the All-Star team.

10. Chicago Bulls (32-23) – As more and more reports surface regarding Derrick Rose’s return, it’s looking like he won’t be back this season. The thinking here is that the Bulls don’t want to rush their franchise player back onto the court – especially when the supporting cast is doing an admirable job already. Center Joakim Noah has really stood out this year by averaging 11.3 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 20.6 BPG and 1.29 SPG.