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NBA Rumors: Dion Waiters Available?

Dion Waiters is on the block… DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard not returning this week.

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Dion Waiters Available?

Far more worrisome to the Cavs than their uneven 11-7 start is the lack of a proven presence at the rim to help stiffen their defense for the long term. That’s why Cleveland, sources say, has been inquiring with the Memphis Grizzlies about the available of reserve center Kosta Koufos among their various trade pursuits.

Sources say that the Cavs are well aware landing a quality big man likely depends on selling on potential trade partners to take back polarizing shooting guard Dion Waiters. Cleveland rates Waiters’ talent highly, but sources maintain that the Cavs have let a number of teams know they are prepared to surrender him if they can acquire a difference-making center in return.

Via Marc Stein of ESPN

Waiters has seen his role steadily decrease this season and it’s getting close to the point where his value around the league is greater than it is for the Cavaliers. In championship-or-bust mode, the Cavs aren’t in a position where they can hold onto an asset that can address their biggest need just because they’re not getting equal value in return. Waiters has the potential to be an All-Star and an 18+ ppg scorer, but that’s not what the Cavaliers view as the missing piece from their championship puzzle right now. They need a rim protector and perimeter stopper, which Stein believes they could get from the Memphis Grizzlies in Koufos and Tayshaun Prince. The Cavaliers have Waiters and a large trade exception that they could use to appease the Grizzlies.

While Waiters doesn’t jump out as an ideal match for the defensive-oriented Grizzlies, one of their biggest downfalls in recent years has been their difficulty scoring the basketball. A pure scorer like Waiters could be exactly what they need to win the West, and the defensive system in place in Memphis could do a world of good for Waiters as well. Currently one of the best teams in the West, though, the Grizzlies are not in any hurry to make a deal, especially one they’re not 100 percent confident will make them a better team. Prince and Koufos are expendable, though, and Waiters is more than worth the gamble.

With Waiters’ availability now public knowledge, trade offers should continue to fly in for Cavs GM David Griffin to consider. The price tag is clear: Cleveland wants proven, veteran talent at the small forward and center spot that can make a difference for them defensively.

DeMarcus Cousins out this week

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has been diagnosed with viral meningitis, according to team physicians with Kaiser Permanente Sacramento.
Cousins’ symptoms are stable and a full recovery is expected, however the Kings medical staff recommends further rest before demands of an NBA schedule can be tolerated. He will continue to be monitored daily, with basketball-related activities expected to resume when his health allows.

Cousins is not expected to be in uniform for this week’s contests. Further updates on his playing status will be issued when they become available.

Via NBA Press Releases

On one hand, Cousins’ case for Most Valuable Player has improved as the Kings have gone 1-4 in his absence, with their lone win coming by a single point against the Indiana Pacers. More importantly, though, the Kings are losing vital ground in the air-tight Western Conference playoff race.

At 10-10 the Kings have fallen to ninth place and a game and a half behind the Phoenix Suns. They have four games on tap this week, but fortunately they’re facing the Jazz, Dwight Howard-less Rockets and Detroit Pistons at home and the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. All four are winnable games, but the health of Cousins is paramount. They won’t be able to stay in the playoff mix long without him.

Dwight Howard out even longer

The Rockets’ hope that Dwight Howard could be close to returning from his strained right knee seemed to be fading.
While discussing Pat Beverley’s return from a strained left hamstring, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said “It would be nice to get everybody else back, but that won’t be happening any time soon.”

McHale had previously said he hoped that Howard, who has been out since Nov. 19, might be ready to return in time to play on the Rockets’ road trip Wednesday and Thursday to play Golden State and Sacramento. Asked if he had a better feel for Howard’s timetable, he said again, “He won’t be back anytime soon.”

Via Jonathan Feigan of the Houston Chronicle

Unlike the Kings without Cousins, the Rockets have surprisingly excelled without their starting center. They’re 7-2, despite a variety of other injuries as well. The Rockets’ bench, which looked like it could be a weakness this year after a disappointing offseason, has been incredibly impressive in place of Howard, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones – three starters who have missed more games than they’ve played in. James Harden deserves a lot of credit as well. He’s truly making his teammates better, and garnering MVP consideration in the process, although he’s still far from a difference maker defensively. The team’s success has taken a lot of pressure off of Howard to push the injury and try to come back too soon, something that has hurt him in the past.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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