Before and after tonight’s 96-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, the Sacramento Kings faced a bevy of questions regarding the apparent trade demand by second-year big man DeMarcus Cousins.
“I don’t know what’s going on about that,” said Kings guard Tyreke Evans when asked if he believes the demand to be true. “I haven’t heard from him. He might have told coach that, but hopefully you know he was just frustrated and mad at the time because we’d definitely like him on this team.”
The reaction from Evans and his teammates was generally of surprise. Players appeared to be caught off guard by the news, with most learning of the decision to send Cousins home at various points during the day.
“He just told us this morning and no one knew before that he was not going to be with us tonight,” Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette said of how he learned the news from head coach Paul Westphal.
Based on the responses of players, there appeared to be no indications that circumstances had soured between Cousins and Westphal. Cousins has apparently demanded to be traded twice, with the most recent request following Saturday night’s blowout loss to the New York Knicks.
“He’s family,” said Kings guard Marcus Thornton, who found the supposed request alarming. “He’s part of the team. That’s why I say after this is all over with, I’m going to give him a call and see what’s going on.”
The starting center’s status remains up-in-the air for the Kings upcoming road trip to Memphis and Denver. However, veteran big man and recent free agent acquisition Chuck Hayes is optimistic Cousins will return.
“I believe he’ll come around,” said Hayes, who’s taken it upon himself to mentor the young center this season. “He’s a competitor, he wants to play, he loves his game. I’m sure it’s eating him up that he’s at home and he has to sit there and watch instead of competing with his teammates. But that’s a decision that the office and the coaching staff, they’ll all have to come up with. And us as pros, we’re going to have to just go out there and perform.”
Reaction from Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton.
James Ham also contributed to this report.