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DeMarcus Cousins trade reaction and more Big Blue Links

In this April 9, 2016, file photo, Vivek Ranadive, the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings poses for a photo with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins after the Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 in an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif. The Kings reportedly agreed to trade Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
In this April 9, 2016, file photo, Vivek Ranadive, the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings poses for a photo with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins after the Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 in an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif. The Kings reportedly agreed to trade Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Monday:

Kings send DeMarcus Cousins to Pelicans. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports, “DeMarcus Cousins’ third All-Star Game as a Sacramento King apparently was his last. The Kings traded forwards Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night for rookie guard Buddy Hield, ex-King Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2017 first- and second-round picks, league sources confirmed Sunday night. The Kings repeatedly had stated publicly they would not trade Cousins. That changed on a weekend when he was being celebrated for his play this season.”

Kings decide to finally make a change. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports, “The Kings simply decided that they no longer wanted to let Cousins’ volatility dictate the culture of the locker room, league sources said. In recent weeks, majority owner Vivek Ranadive had become more open to the front office’s willingness to trade Cousins, passing on the commitment to the $209 million extension this summer, league sources said. Cousins’ uneven behavior in recent weeks chipped away at Ranadive’s resolve to keep him, and he started to listen more closely to the front office’s push to trade him for assets and rebuild, sources said.”

Cousins-Davis pairing shakes up the West. Bill Reiter of CBS Sports writes, “Cousins, for all the drama and at times dysfunction he brings to the court, is a massively talented star capable of lifting a team from also-ran to contender. In pairing him with Davis, who scored an All-Star Game record 52 points Sunday night, and claimed the All-Star Game MVP, New Orleans becomes legit. How legit? Well, at the very least, it recalibrates the top half of the Western Conference.”

Winners and losers in the Cousins deal. Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes, “I think there’s a persuasive case to be made that the Kings needed to trade Cousins to have a chance to be successful. If it’s possible to build a winning team around his volatile personality, I don’t think it was ever going to happen in Sacramento. Cousins simply had too much power in the organization to develop the habits necessary to help a team win. And yet I can’t endorse the trade the Kings actually made.”

Cousins’ stay in Sacramento ends in unnecessary chaos. Ben Golliver of SI.com writes, “Remarkably, the confirmed reports came across Twitter with Davis still milling about the press conference seating area, leading reporters to approach him to comment on what now appeared to be news rather than gossip. Sensing the unfolding situation, security shuttled Davis out of the media area and into a protected tunnel, as reporters and cameras tracked him down an extended hallway in hopes of grabbing a reaction to this career-altering development, but one never came.”

It’s Boogie or bust for the Pelicans. Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes, “One, the Pelicans are serious about making a run for the Western Conference’s No. 8 playoff seed and trying to build a contender around franchise player Anthony Davis. The Pelicans were stuck in neutral and needed to make a splash to shake the franchise from its lethargy. The five-player, multiple-draft pick blockbuster trade certainly qualifies. The other thing it tells us is they know something we don’t.”

Anthony Davis named MVP of All-Star game. Dennis Varney of H-L reports, “Former University of Kentucky star Anthony Davis said before the NBA All-Star Game that he planned to shoot the ball every time he got it. And he did just that. The New Orleans Pelicans star put on a show for his hometown crowd and was named the game’s MVP after scoring an All-Star Game record 52 points to go with 10 rebounds. Davis’ West squad defeated the East 192-182 on Sunday night.”

Big second half helps UK women past Florida. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “A game before their senior night, the Cats (19-8, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) were paced by their seniors with Evelyn Akhator putting up 19 points and pulling down nine rebounds along with three steals. Makayla Epps added 14 points, three assists and three rebounds. Sophomore Maci Morris pitched in with 15 points and three assists. The sophomore helped set the tone early for UK, which never trailed on Sunday, and led by as many as 22 points.”

Missouri women upset South Carolina. Alec Lewis of the Kansas City Star reports, “Her head-fake proved critical, but the poise even more so. With the clock winding down in Sunday’s nail-biter against the No. 6 South Carolina, there was no doubt who Missouri was going to: Sophie Cunningham. And with the score tied, the sophomore star scored on a scoop layup that propelled the Tigers to a signature 62-60 victory in front of 5,789 fans, the fifth-most in the history of Missouri women’s basketball games played at Mizzou Arena. “

Rick Pitino’s words overstate his worry. Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal writes, “Since Louisville would survive Virginia Tech’s artillery barrage Saturday afternoon and improve to 22-5 with a 94-90 victory, Johnson’s lapse qualifies as a teachable moment rather than a critical breakdown. Since U of L ranks third nationally in 3-point defense – at least until Saturday’s tipoff – the visitors’ 17-for-26 perimeter marksmanship looks more like an aberration than a cause for concern. Though some of Rick Pitino’s postgame comments might convey the impression of a coach deeply worried about his team’s defensive shortcomings, his remarks read more harshly than they sounded. Pitino’s default setting is hyperbole, after all, not hysteria.”

SEC men’s basketball mid-week schedule

Tuesday, Feb. 21

7:00 - Auburn at LSU (SEC)

7:00 - South Carolina at Florida (ESPN)

9:00 - Kentucky at Missouri (SEC)

9:00 - Ole Miss at Mississippi State (ESPN2)

Wednesday, Feb. 22

6:30 - Vanderbilt at Tennessee (SEC)

8:30 - Texas A&M at Arkansas (SEC)

Thursday, Feb. 23

7:00 - Georgia at Alabama (ESPN2)

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