Kings

Rewind: Cousins at center of one of wildest nights in Kings history

Rewind: Cousins at center of one of wildest nights in Kings history

SACRAMENTO -- Raw emotion. Love him or hate him, DeMarcus Cousins lives in the moment, even when it’s to his own detriment.

The Sacramento Kings’ star center gave everyone a look into his world Tuesday evening as his team snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Portland Trail Blazers, coming away with a dramatic 126-121 victory at Golden 1 Center.

On the floor, Cousins was otherworldly, scoring 55 points on 17-of-28 from the field, 16-of-17 from the line and 5-for-8 from behind the arc. He threw in 13 rebounds and three huge blocks in 41 minutes of action. Portland threw everything they had at the 26-year-old center and still couldn’t stop him.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story for Cousins.

There was the bizarre ejection, followed by an instant technical recension. There was a run out from the locker room to a crowd going bonkers, a postgame rant on the floor and then an even stranger locker room interview where the impulsive big opened with, “Hi friends!”

The Sacramento Kings have long been stranger than fiction, but Tuesday night may have been the wildest sequence of events in recent memory.  

“You know, kind of a crazy game,” Dave Joerger opened his postgame press conference.

He didn’t need to say any more. It was a barnburner that featured incredible offense, porous defense, technical fouls, flying mouthpieces and a whole lot more.

The drama is only magnified by the fact that with the win, Sacramento tied the Trail Blazers in the loss column and now sit just a game outside of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Boy don’t they wish they had that Dallas game back.

THE EJECTION
In the final minute of the game, Cousins found himself in hot water for what seems like the millionth time this season. After scoring a late basket over Mason Plumlee, Cousins’ mouthpiece flew out of his mouth near the Trail Blazers bench and he was ejected from the game for garnering his second technical foul.

Cousins quickly ran off the court and into the locker room, only to have the technical rescinded. PA announcer Scott Moak had the call of the night, when he announced over the soundsystem, “Someone go get DeMarcus Cousins!”

“I just saw the mouthpiece fly,” veteran Anthony Tolliver said. “I assumed he wouldn’t throw his mouthpiece. I think the referee heard the bench say that he threw it and reacted quickly and called a technical, but then got more information and found out it flew out of his mouth.  At the end of the day, they got it right, I believe. He was able to come back and help us finish it.”

Cousins returned to the court to an overwhelming ovation from the crowd at Golden 1 Center. He knocked down the free throw to give Sacramento a three-point lead. On the other end of the court, he came away with a huge block on Damian Lillard and the Kings were able to salt away the game at the line.

BENCH MOB
Cousins wasn’t the only one to come up big for Sacramento. Tolliver, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Willie Cauley-Stein all played huge minutes off the Kings’ bench, outscoring their counterparts 49-23.

“Our guys stuck together, it was a good team win,” Joerger said following the game. “Different guys stayed ready. Ty Lawson was fantastic. Arron Afflalo has had a couple games where he hasn’t played a lot, and he stepped out and did a nice job. Guys stayed together. If you are going to win at any level, it’s going to be different guys on different nights. You have to cheer for those guys because it might not be your night, next night might be yours, and if everyone is pulling in the same direction then we can do something.”

Lawson put on a show against the powerhouse backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He added eight assists and three rebounds, but maybe more importantly, he made adjustments on defense that helped slow the Blazers star players.

Afflalo and Tolliver have been the odd men out on plenty of nights this season, but with Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and Omri Casspi (illness) sidelined, the duo got an opportunity to shine. Afflalo went into the post and scored 11 points over Portland’s backcourt. Tolliver got it going from long range, hitting 3-of-4 from downtown on his way to 11 points.

Cauley-Stein added six points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field in six minutes of action.

Kings positioned well at start of NBA trade season, but will they buy?

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AP

Kings positioned well at start of NBA trade season, but will they buy?

SACRAMENTO – December 15 is big day in the NBA. It is the date that the league’s moratorium is lifted for trading players that were acquired during the previous offseason. It officially kicks off stage one of trade season for the league.

The magic started early, with the Wizards, Suns and Grizzlies engaging in a potential three-way deal that would have sent veteran Trevor Ariza back to the Washington Wizards for a second tour of duty.

After some crazy finger pointing and misinformation, Memphis was removed from the transaction and Ariza is reportedly on his way to Washington in exchange for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers.

This is the first of many deals that will go down between now and the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline.  

The Kings have gone from a potential salary dump site to possible buyers in what should be an active market. Sacramento is the only team in the league with measurable cap space, sitting roughly $11 million under the cap.

Vlade Divac and his group also have four expiring contracts in Iman Shumpert ($11 million), Zach Randolph ($11.7 million), Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million) and Ben McLemore ($5.5 million). That's nearly $37 million in moveable assets.

Of those four, Shumpert is the only player seeing regular minutes in the rotation. He has been a big part of the Kings' culture this season. According to sources, moving him would be on the bottom of the team’s priority list when it comes to expiring deals.

Koufos has played limited minutes for the Kings this season. He’s the team’s best post defender, but with a glut of bigs, he’s played in just 14 games this season and should have value around the league.

With so many other options at the power forward position, Randolph hasn’t stepped foot on the floor for Sacramento this season and McLemore has totalled only 41 minutes through 28 games.

Sacramento has little interest in shopping their two free agent acquisitions from this past offseason. Nemanja Bjelica is starting at the power forward position and playing major rotational minutes for coach Dave Joerger.

Yogi Ferrell was out of the Kings’ rotation for much of the season, but he’s found himself back in the mix over the last two games and is scheduled to get a 10-game look at the backup point guard spot. He is inexpensive and the Kings have a team option on the 25-year-old for next season as well.

The list of players who have now become available for trade is lackluster. No one jumps off the page as a “must have” for Sacramento, but Dec. 15 usually starts the barrage of conversations.

According to reports, the Suns might look to find another home for Oubre. He is a restricted free agent following the season and a potential target for the Kings when they walk into the summer with an estimated $60 million in cap space.

[RELATED: Why Kevin Durant can see Kings attracting big names in NBA free agency]

The Kings like the former Wizards forward and could make an early run at the 23-year-old, which would then give them the option to match any offer for him during the summer.

Sacramento also kicked the tires on James Ennis (Rockets) and Mario Hezonja (Knicks) during free agency last summer.

Ennis was starting until recently when a hamstring injury put him on the shelf. He’s played solid basketball for Houston and isn’t likely to be moved.

Hezonja has been a bust in New York, averaging 7.3 points on 37.6 percent shooting from the field and 29.1 percent from 3-point range.

Neither of these players present an upgrade over what the Kings currently have at the small forward spot.

Sacramento could use a player or two to fortify their rotation. They are off to a very good start to the season at 15-13. They don’t have a first round pick to offer until 2021, but they have multiple second round selections in each of the next three drafts to sweeten a deal.

Expect the Kings to come up in lots of rumors over the next two months. They’ve positioned themselves well with regards to the cap, and they look like buyers -- not sellers -- for the first time in a while.

Charles Barkley's moving friendship with Lin Wang started in Sacramento

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USATSI

Charles Barkley's moving friendship with Lin Wang started in Sacramento

One of the greatest stories of friendship ever told started four years ago in Sacramento.

Only two people were sitting at the hotel bar. One was Charles Barkley, NBA legend. The other was Lin Wang, a cat litter scientist from Iowa.

Lin, like many people, wanted to say hi and take a picture with Sir Charles. That turned into a lengthy conversation and a dinner, and then meet-ups the next two nights.

Barkley gave Lin his phone number and told him to call if he ever was in New York, Atlanta or Phoenix. And call Lin did.

Lin’s daughter, Shirley, tells the entire beautiful story of her father’s friendship with Barkley on WBUR’s “Only A Game,” and with insight from the Basketball Hall of Famer himself. It includes visits to the TNT “Inside the NBA” set, Lin surprisingly Barkley by attending his mother’s funeral in 2016, and sadly, Lin’s death during the 2018 NBA Finals.

Lin was a Warriors fan, and his funeral was the day after those Finals. Barkley wasn’t about to miss it: He flew to Iowa to say goodbye to his good friend and delivered some touching words.

Barkley later told Shirley Wang: "It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his. Just hearing about him at the funeral — what he had accomplished and what he was trying to help other people accomplish, just made me even — I wished he bragged more about himself."

Barkley added that he was impressed by Lin. The sports world will be impressed – and moved – by this story of two people who, on the surface, couldn’t be more different but became one dynamic duo.