76ers

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins threatened to fight Nik Stauskas on a plane

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins threatened to fight Nik Stauskas on a plane

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins wasn't a big fan of Nik Stauskas.

Discussing the Cousins trade on his podcast Monday, Zach Lowe recalled a story from two years ago when Cousins threatened Stauskas on Sacramento's team flight to China.

"DeMarcus Cousins ruined Nik Stauskas, or almost did," Lowe said. "The stories about DeMarcus Cousins berating Nik Stauskas, threatening to fight Nik Stauskas on the plane when they were going to China for the preseason. 

"He ruined Nik Stauskas, he ruined Sauce Castillo to the point where he just had to go somewhere else."

Lowe and guest Brian Windhorst went on to compare Stauskas to Buddy Hield, the centerpiece of the Kings' return for Cousins. Both felt the Kings did poorly in the Cousins trade, arguing the draft pick they received from the Pels was equivalent to the one they got from the Hornets (No. 22) for Marco Belinelli.

Windhorst told a story of a conversation he had recently with a personnel executive who said Hield will be a backup two-guard. 

"You know who [Hield] is very similar to in that regard?" Lowe asked. "Nik Stauskas."

"[Stauskas] had a nice stretch in the first third of the season for the Sixers (which showed) he's going to be a rotation player. I think he settles into that — his shooting has slumped a little bit. But that's an example of DeMarcus Cousins ruined Nik Stauskas, and now they're trading him for maybe an equivalent player."

The Kings are just a complete mess, which is hugely important for the Sixers, who own pick swap rights with Sacramento in the 2017 draft and also have the Kings' unprotected 2019 first-rounder (see story).

That trade continues to boost former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie's credibility and make Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Vlade Divac look like they don't know what they're doing.

"If your owner has stability and knows what he's doing and knows how to hire the right people and get out of their way, that's a (good) situation. This was created by Vivek," Windhorst said.

"And that doesn't mean that Vlade didn't make the decisions within the trade that they made with Philadelphia, but putting Vlade in that position when he wasn't ready for it — and I think everybody, including Vlade would agree — led to this.

"I just can't believe how little they got (for Cousins). You know that they've been offered so much more for DeMarcus in the past. And so not only is the recent decision to basically sell the long-term for the now, to trade Nik Stauskas so that you can sign Kosta Koufos or whatever else they did with that money, going and signing Arron Afflalo."

At that point, Lowe interjected and poured on poor Vlade, recounting the players Divac signed with the money freed up in the Stauskas heist.

"Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo — who might be out of the freaking league next year — and Marco Belinelli. ... That's who they traded those picks and swap rights for — those three players, who aren't going to help you win and everybody knew they weren't going to help you win. And they could have acquired two of them via free agency if they used the stretch provision and had any idea what the stretch provision was."

The Kings made their bed. Their only real chance of avoiding a catastrophic next few years is if Hield — a.k.a. Stauskas 2.0 — can pull them out of it.

Predictions for Game 5 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

Predictions for Game 5 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

After a dramatic Game 4 win in Brooklyn that had everything you could've wanted, the Sixers can finish off the Nets Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick give their predictions for Game 5: 

Hudrick
We’ve gotten the most positive injury update about Joel Embiid this entire series with him being listed as probable for Game 5 with left knee soreness. Though it’s super dangerous to do so, let’s look at this under the assumption Embiid will play.

Before Game 4 in Brooklyn, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson sounded like a man searching for answers. He lauded the Sixers’ starting five and it’s easy to see why. Of the five-man lineups that have played at least 30 minutes together this postseason, the Sixers’ starting unit has the highest offensive, defensive and net rating. Not too shabby for a group still working on its chemistry.

Brooklyn appears to be a desperate team. Their general manger burst into the referees’ locker room after Game 4 and their owner passive aggressively tweeted about officiating. Both were fined. With that said, it looks like the Sixers took the Nets’ best shot already.

The team has denied it, but that Game 1 loss sure seemed like a wake-up call. Jared Dudley poked the bear with Ben Simmons and Embiid is thriving in his villain role. Tobias Harris has also gotten his swagger back, and not a moment too soon. It feels like there’s a loose vibe around the Sixers right now. As a team, they appear to be in a good place.

“We want Toronto” chants will start about midway through the fourth quarter, and in front of a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd, the Sixers end the series.

Levick 
The Nets, fined a collective $85,000 following their loss Saturday ($25,000 for general manager Sean Marks, $25,000 for Jared Dudley and $35,000 for owner Joe Tsai), have nothing to lose — besides their season. They’ll reach another level of desperation in Game 5 and keep trying to irritate the Sixers as much as possible. Dudley is going to be booed like he’s never been booed before.

I don’t think any of it will matter much. The Sixers are clearly the more talented team in this series, and Joel Embiid the most dominant player. 

One reason the Nets have for optimism is their subpar three-point shooting over the past couple of games, particularly from Joe Harris. Brooklyn shot a combined 20 for 77 (26 percent) from long range in Games 3 and 4, and Harris — the NBA’s leader in three-point percentage during the regular season — is 0 for his last 12 from three. Though the Sixers’ defense is responsible for some of the Nets’ struggles from three-point territory, Brooklyn has missed plenty of open looks. They're due for an improved shooting performance.

Kenny Atkinson’s decision to place Dudley and LeVert in the starting lineup for Game 4 was effective, but it’s apparent the Nets simply don’t have the personnel to handle Embiid in the paint, Simmons in transition and Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in the pick-and-roll.

I’m sticking with Sixers in five. 

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Nets owner Joe Tsai fined $35,000 for public comments 'detrimental to the NBA'

ap_joe_tsai_nets.jpg
AP Images/Ng Han Guan

Nets owner Joe Tsai fined $35,000 for public comments 'detrimental to the NBA'

The Nets, a game away from being eliminated by the Sixers, have not been shy about voicing their displeasure with the refereeing in the series.

After general manager Sean Marks was suspended one game and fined $25,000 for entering the referees' locker room following Game 4, owner Joe Tsai expressed his support for Marks' actions.

Monday, the NBA fined Tsai $35,000 for public comments "detrimental to the NBA."

Tsai, the co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, owns 49 percent of the Nets. 

Marks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, was "livid" that the Flagrant 1 fouls on Joel Embiid in Games 2 and 4 were not called Flagrant 2s, and wanted to send a message. Tsai wholeheartedly backed that message.

In the Last Two Minute Report from Game 4, the league said that the referees missed a foul by Tobias Harris on Jarrett Allen with 12 seconds remaining and the Nets looking to tie the game.

Nets players and executives have now been fined a total of $85,000 after Game 4 and its contentious aftermath (Jared Dudley — $25,000; Marks — $25,000; Tsai — $35,000). Jimmy Butler ($15,000) is the only Sixer to incur a fine from the league this series. 

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