Blockbuster trades are almost always exciting, but even if DeMarcus Cousins isn’t involved in one in the next day or two, the drama in Sacramento might just be getting started.
Cousins, 24, and Kings coach George Karl, 64, are at an impasse. They’re 40 years apart – literally and figuratively – and neither side appears willing to give an inch.
“What you pretty much have is a divide between coach and star player – and if you look at George Karl’s past, it’s not the first time he’s had a clash with a star,” The Sacramento Bee Kings writer Jason Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The difference this time is that in Sacramento the thing has been so toxic – so dysfunctional – for the last year (or more), it’s almost like ownership is going to be stubborn and say, ‘We’re not trading the player, and we’re not firing the coach.’
“They need to work it out,” Jones continued. “How you make that work, I have no idea. Because the way DeMarcus Cousins is wired, he’s really big on trust, and if you cross him once or twice, he can be essentially done with you. And I already think at this point, in his mind, George has crossed him the wrong way too many times in – what is it? – three, four months. I don’t see how he goes back to saying, ‘I want to play for this guy.’”
Cousins averaged 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals in 59 games last season. Those are superstar numbers, and usually, coaches cut superstar players some superstar slack.
“Listening to George talk a little bit today, he’s going to stand his ground,” Jones said. “His attitude is going to be, ‘If Marcus is committed to us, I’ll coach him.’ But he’s not going to say, ‘I don’t want to trade him.’ So you’ve got two strong-willed people going head-to-head, and the organization doesn’t want to get rid of either one of them, so I don’t know how you resolve it at this point.”
Karl and Cousins haven’t spoken in months.
“No, they haven’t talked since April,” Jones said. “At the end of the season, DeMarcus Cousins missed the last four or five games with a foot injury. So I asked George at the last home game (whether he had) spoken (with) DeMarcus to see how he’s doing, how he’s feeling. He said, ‘I haven’t talked to him yet about it.’”
“I can’t imagine any other team where your best player (is injured) – even if it is just two or three games – and the coach says, ‘I haven’t talked to him,’” Jones said. “They haven’t talked at all this offseason. Depending on who’s side (you’re on) or who you believe, it’s either by DeMarcus’ refusal or George not wanting to talk to him.”
The dysfunction in Sacramento isn’t limited to Karl and Cousins, either.
“This is a team that didn’t even do exit interviews formally,” Jones said. “So after the last game, guys – they’re gone. There seems to be no real cohesion with how this thing is going to work, really at all. You would imagine the owner (Vivek Ranadive) would make these two sit down and talk. That hasn’t happened yet. These guys haven’t gotten together.”