Report: Rockets targeting Kings big man Kosta Koufos

Report: Rockets targeting Kings big man Kosta Koufos

Is the rumor mill already heating up? Word on the street is that the Houston Rockets are hot on the trail of one of the Sacramento Kings frontcourt players. No, it’s not the readily available Rudy Gay, who has already informed the team of his intent to opt out of his contract at season’s end. 

The Rockets are interested in the Kings’ veteran big Kosta Koufos, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Koufos would fit very nicely at the center position with Houston big man Clint Capella sidelined for an extended period. 

“Trade rumble: Houston has made no secret of its desire to add a big man and the Kings' Kosta Koufos, I'm told, has emerged as a prime target,” Stein tweeted out Friday morning.

It makes perfect sense that Houston would be interested in Koufos. The 27-year-old 7-footer is in the second year of a four-year, $33 million contract that he signed before last summer. He’s an extremely durable big that understands his role and is excellent in the locker room.

The real question is whether or not the Kings would have any interest in dealing their starting center. Koufos played under head coach Dave Joerger two seasons ago in Memphis and the Kings’ new coach has relied heavily on him through the first 32 games of the season.

Koufos has started 28 games alongside DeMarcus Cousins. While his numbers don’t jumper off the page, Koufos does the dirty work that often allows Cousins to flourish. On the season, Koufos is averaging 5.9 points on 57.4 percent shooting and he’s pulling down 5.8 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game. 

While Koufos and Cousins aren’t a natural fit next to each other, the Kings have found a rhythm of late, winning six of their last nine. They are currently tied with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race. 

Would Sacramento be willing to deal one of its most reliable players while still in the hunt?

There is a legitimate concern that the Kings don’t have the depth to move Koufos while continuing to compete. Second-year center/forward Willie Cauley-Stein has struggled to adjust to Joerger’s system early in the season and is playing just 12.4 minutes per game.

Rookies Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere have bounced back and forth between Sacramento and the Reno Bighorns of the D-League the entire season and neither looks ready to step in and fill the void if Koufos finds a new address.  

Houston has assets, but nothing over the top. They have draft picks they can deal, but it would have to be a part of a bigger package. It’s unlikely that a conversation centered around forward Corey Brewer, 30, would spark the Kings’ interest, although the salary numbers would work.

Sam Dekker is an intriguing young player, but he comes with a long injury history. Montrezl Harrell, a former second round pick, is a nice young big as well, but not nearly enough to move Koufos for.   

Complicating matters further is the fact that the Kings have 15 players under contract, including three rookie first round picks. If Houston wants Koufos, they are going to have to get creative. 

Sacramento is likely to be busy over the next six weeks leading up to the Feb. 23 trade deadline, but Koufos is an asset they may want to hold onto. There might come a time when the Kings are sellers, but they will likely wait and see how this group fares through January before making any major moves. 

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena.