NBA Report: Sullinger fit to be King?

Well, it’s that time of year again in the NBA.

Players are being waived. Ten-day contracts are being pulled from filing cabinets. Twitter is buzzing, with the trade deadline just a little more than a month away.

These are the moments for which many pro basketball fans exist.

And the hot rumor of the moment involves none other than Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who may be the best all-around big man in the game at the tender age of 22.

Kings GM Geoff Petrie said last week the Kings aren’t looking to trade Cousins. Kings coach Keith Smart played along, saying Cousins is too young, large and talented to simply “put on the curbside.”

Now NBC Radio in Boston is reporting the Celtics may be nearing a deal for that very man.

According to the report, Celtics such as forwards Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger, and guard Courtney Lee, “are among the players who could be packaged in an offer for Cousins.”

Sullinger, by the way, is the rookie from Ohio State who the Celtics drafted with the No. 20 overall pick. He’s averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds coming off the bench behind Kevin Garnett.

That, of course, is better than the Kings’ rookie power forward, Thomas Robinson, drafted No. 5 overall. Robinson is averaging 4.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. He too is said to be available. Already.

Rock Chalk, Kansas Jayhawk. Or something like that.

Anyway, NBA writer A. Sherrod Blakely of assisted the speculation by reporting the Celtics are looking to “bolster their roster via a multi-player trade.”

This is all very possible. The Celtics did create roster space by waiving rookie forward Kris Joseph and some guy named Jarvis Varnado, who apparently also played forward on the team.

Actually, Varnado was signed by the Celtics out of the D-League on Dec. 24, so it’s OK if you don’t know who he is.

But back to what really matters here, and that’s the endless chatter.

It’s not going away — with everyone from Cleveland center Anderson Varejao, Memphis forward Rudy Gay and, of course, L.A. Lakers forward Pau Gasol hitting the rumors circuit within the past few days. (Or in the case of Varejao and Gasol, since about 1992.)

It’s hard to differentiate between reality and the whims of bored reporters, but know this much: GMs are indeed taking calls at this time of year. Everyone wants to either make a change for the sake of a major playoff run, or to better position themselves for the future. Most will wait until the final moment to make a deal in late February.

So sit back, grab the chips and salsa, and get ready to take it all in.

Eventually, we’re going to find out if the Kings are really keeping Cousins, and if NBA fans can find a way to carry on if the Kings do.

Rocket surge

We all know Houston guard James Harden has been spectacular since being acquired from Oklahoma City three days before the season.

He’s averaging 26.4 points and the Rockets have been somewhat of a surprise with their 20-14 start. Harden has also scored at least 25 points in 12 straight games.

Basically, the Rockets are a team you don’t want to see in the postseason and Harden is the reason why.

Coach Kevin McHale would probably likely to say Harden has benefitted from the Rockets’ up-tempo system — but McHale isn’t willing to go there on record.

“He’d be good in any system,” McHale said. “He just knows how to play. He’s got a great change-of-pace game, he just goes fast when he needs to go fast. When he goes downhill from the halfcourt in, he’s sidestepping guys, he can finish strong, he’s just very explosive. And I think us getting up and down helps him.”

Harden is also an underrated defender, coming off a career-high seven steals Saturday against Cleveland.

It probably doesn’t hurt that he and McHale have a strong relationship. In any sport, things tend to work out best when the star player gets along with and respects his coach.

The Rockets, by the way, lead the league in scoring at 106.2 points per game.


• Phoenix is one team that hasn’t been mentioned much in trade speculation, but it’s believed the Suns would be more than willing participants, especially assisting in multi-player deals. They have zero untouchables, and word is, they plan to see what they might be able to get for the likes of forwards Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley, and even center Marcin Gortat.

• It would be a surprise if second-year forward Derrick Williams is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves after the trading deadline. Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011 behind Kyrie Irving, certainly has some potential. But the Wolves are still asking the same questions they did when they drafted him. Namely, is he a power forward or a small forward?

• Also keep an eye on proven vets with expiring contracts. Bigger names include Atlanta forward Josh Smith, Utah big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, Orlando guard J.J. Redick, and Charlotte guard Ben Gordon (who can opt out).

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO