DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on DeMarcus Cousins, Kawhi Leonard and more

David Aldridge

You got to appreciate what an explosive element this Boogie situation is. From Noah Knobloch:

I have been thinking about next season on what the Cavs can do to try and convince LeBron to stay. The Pelicans have been playing really well with DeMarcus Cousins injured. I was wondering what you thought of a DeMarcus Cousins sign and trade to the Cavs for the number 8 Nets pick and Tristan Thompson’s contract?

I like the concept. But I don’t think it’s likely. TwitterWorld is agog, of course, that Boogie unfollowed the Pelicans’ Instagram account last week and took that as a sure sign he’s leaving town in July (though he told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears it wasn’t that simple). And, while New Orleans definitely wants Cousins back next season, the Pels are not just capped out, they were right at the tax threshold this season, and have $85 million already committed for 2018-19 in just five players—Jrue Holiday ($26 million), Anthony Davis ($25 million), Solomon Hill ($12.7 million), Nikola Mirotic ($12.5 million) and E’Twaun Moore ($8.8 million). Then they have to re-sign Rajon Rondo, which won’t break the bank but will almost certainly be well in excess of the $3.3 million bargain basement deal he had to take this past season.

So: it’s not going to be easy to re-sign Cousins, I know. But New Orleans wants badly to bring him back. Having Mirotic for a full season next year will allow Alvin Gentry the flexibility to not have to play Davis and Cousins together all the time; Cousins, certainly at the beginning of next season, isn’t going to be a 30-minute player anyway; he could play in short bursts next to both Davis and/or Mirotic depending on matchups.

As for the Cavs, I’m not sure that LeBron would view Cousins, coming off a serious injury, as a significant upgrade (and it bears mentioning that James and Thompson have the same agent—though sending Thompson to play with Davis for the next two years wouldn’t be exactly exiling him to Siberia). Boogie could definitely help LeBron, though, and as the Cavs don’t exactly play at a frantic pace (12th during the regular season), stylistically it would make some sense. Cousins showed he and Davis could play together effectively; no reason he couldn’t do the same with Kevin Love, with each able to stretch defenses out to the three-point line.

But the Cavs are already at the cap for next season and that doesn’t even count James’s player option at $35 million—which, I know, he’s going to decline to again hit unrestricted free agency. the money would be a difficult match for Cleveland and Cousins, even if he took a LeBron Discount. Cleveland would have to commit at least three years to Cousins under CBA rules in a sign-and-trade deal. The market for marginal centers (Mozgov, Mahinmi) was $16 million per two years ago; the Heat gave Hassan Whiteside $24.5 million per. It would be hard to expect Boogie not to view Whiteside’s deal as his floor, not the ceiling.

This week’s Kawhi offer involves…chowdah. From Josh Mains:

Would Rozier, Horford, Semi, 2019 Sacramento pick be the best offer the Spurs are likely to receive for Kawhi (Gasol may be needed in addition to make the numbers work)? Is that enough to make the Spurs think?

I’m a huge Celtics fan and may be valuing our guys a little too much, although it’s hard to argue with the results. As a fan I don’t think giving up either Brown or Tatum is a wise move but the Spurs may demand one of them for Kawhi. Is Rozier ascension enough to make him the young center piece of a deal for Kawhi. As a fan I can live with trading him only because it becomes incredibly hard to resign him after next year and he’s made his desires of being a starting PG very clear. Excited to hear your thoughts, thanks for the consideration.

Josh, you sent your e-mail in before the start of the Eastern Conference finals, but even before that series started, there was/is no way Boston deals Horford for anyone, including Kawhi. Kawhi is a better player than Al. I’m not arguing that. But Horford does so many unsaid and unseen things that facilitate winning, and he does all of it without a minute’s complaint about more time, shots, etc. No insult meant to Aron Baynes, but he can do what he does for Boston, mainly because Al Horford is starting. So your proposal is a non-starter, to me (not to mention that the Spurs believe strongly that Dejounte Murray is going to be a star in his own right at point guard, and thus wouldn’t have the inclination to move Leonard for Rozier—who has been brilliant, no doubt, in the postseason).

I have written, and still believe, that Philly can put the most interesting assets on the table for Leonard—the 10 pick this year and a package of players that could involve damn near everyone other than Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid—any combination of Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington and/or Dario Saric, for example.

A sad Raptors fan. Seriously. From Tim Boonstra:

What do I do if a coworker sneakily changed my computer background to a picture of LeBron?

That’s cold. I’d call HR.

Anthony’s radar detected a ping that didn’t seem normal. From Anthony Garcia:

You had a rather…interesting expression on your face when Barry Bonds came over to greet Stephen Curry before your postgame interview after Game 2 (of the Pelicans series) at Oracle.

What were you thinking in that moment? You didn’t look very pleased.

Well, Ant, your sleuthing skills weren’t completely off. That particular night was Curry’s first game back since suffering his knee injury five weeks earlier—a rather important story in my line of work. That he came back, off the bench, and immediately jumped right back in like he hadn’t missed a minute was rather impressive, and significant for the Dubs’ hopes of repeating—which is another rather important story in my line of work. So I was eager to talk with Steph about all of it, and I think people watching at home, or online, or in bars, or wherever, were eager to hear from him. I don’t begrudge Barry wanting to dap up Steph or give him props—elite athlete to elite athlete. I get it. Their experiences are different than those of the rest of us, and Barry is a big hoops fan; he used to come to Kings games a lot during the Webber Years. I just think there’s a place for those kinds of reunions/tributes, and it’s not when the camera people and I are on the #@%^%$$ court, clearly waiting to do our #@$%%^^ walkoff interview!

Perhaps I’ve said too much.

Send your questions, comments and other animals who exhibit new and different behaviors than when they first came into your home to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!

MVP WATCH

(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)

1) James Harden (29.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 6.3 apg,.469 FG, .857 FT): Has followed a similar pattern in each of Houston’s three playoff series so far this season: a massive game one scoring performance in excess of 40 points, followed by good but not as dominant games through the rest of the series.

2) LeBron James (34.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 12 spg, .585 FG, .650 FT): Posted his 23rd postseason game with 40 or more points (42) in Cleveland’s Game 2 Eastern Conference finals loss to Boston last week. It was the 73rd time overall in his career that James has cracked the 40-point plateau.

3) Anthony Davis: Season complete.

4) Kevin Durant (33.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.3 apg, .529 FG, 1.000 FT): As locked in as you can be offensively against the Rockets, who really can’t do much to keep him from his spots—though it does make Golden State much more of an isolation team than normal, which is not how the Warriors normally roll.

5) Russell Westbrook: Season complete.

BY THE NUMBERS

41 – Margin of defeat by Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday at Golden State—simultaneously the biggest margin of victory in a postseason game in Warriors history and the largest margin of defeat in a postseason game in Rockets history.

910 – Career games, all with the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise, played by forward Nick Collison, who announced his retirement last week after 15 NBA seasons. He leaves as one of the most respected players in the team’s history and is one of just five players who’ve spent the last 15 years with the same franchise, joining Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki (20 consecutive seasons with the Mavericks), the Spurs’ Tony Parker (17 seasons with San Antonio) and Manu Ginobili (16) and Miami’s Udonis Haslem (15).

2 – Remaining active players in the league—Kevin Durant and Jeff Green—who played games in Seattle (sniff), after Collison’s retirement. Durant and Green played their rookie seasons (2007-08), in the Emerald City, which was the Sonics’ last there before the league approved the relocation of the team to Oklahoma City.

I’M FEELIN’….

1) The Suns have had a rough go of it lately, as we all know—some of it out of their hands, but much of it their own doing. Nonetheless, everyone deserves..a moment in the sun (don’t judge me at 6:58 a.m. Eastern), and Phoenix got it last Tuesday in the Lottery, getting the top pick in the Draft for the first time in franchise history. For a team that lost the coin flip that would have brought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to town in 1969, that’s a long time to wait to get another crack at it.

2) “TLue, Im’ma be a little late for practice tomorrow…” .

3) This just keeps continuing one of the great careers at this kid’s age in international basketball history.

4) Very poignant read on what happened to some fans after their halfcourt shots during NBA games hit the bottom of the net. It’s not all happy, and it’s not all sad. Which is life, right?

NOT FEELIN’…

1) RIP, Bret Bearup. Knowledgeable and funny, the former Kentucky player was an executive for the Nuggets for many years and had friends all around the league who appreciated his wry takes on basketball and the world. He will be missed.

2) This is sad and weird.

3) I’m happy for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who got married over the weekend. I just didn’t spend a moment of my time watching their wedding or caring about it. Please continue to get off my lawn.

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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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