The latest DeMarcus Cousins blow-up may have simmered down, but the Sacramento Kings still have some major decisions in front of them. There are plenty rumors floating about with teams lining up trade proposals for Kings brass to peruse. But what makes them think that the Cousins’ situation will work for them when it has so far failed for Sacramento?
This is the today’s NBA. If a player doesn’t like his particular situation, he hires a guy like Dan Fegan to do his bidding. As opposed to making the necessary change from within, players seek an easy road out – a fresh start somewhere else. If they can’t win here, let them go somewhere else where everything will magically change and they can be the No. 1 option for a playoff team.
That’s crazy talk.
In a league where Jerry Sloan had to walk away because of player run-ins, what makes other teams believe they can harness the potential of player like Cousins? What makes them believe that they have the mystical potion to make everything work?
Delusions of grandeur.
While the national media has placed a lot of the blame on the Kings organization for their lack of support, the question has to be asked – what will the next team do differently?
When Paul Westphal could no longer handle the young center, the Kings showed him the door and promoted long-time NBA assistant Keith Smart, known for his success in handling players with baggage. They also brought highly regarded big man coach Clifford Ray to assist in the task at hand, but neither has had the desired effect.
“What is the support system that’s not in place?” Smart asked when posed the question of what the Kings haven’t done to help Cousins grow. “What is it? I’m trying to figure out what is it that we are supposed to have – that every team is supposed to have? Let us know, so we can find out what it is. And then we can let you know if we do have that.”
Smart is right. While he takes a beating for being the wrong guy or not having the right guys around him, it doesn’t seem like an accurate assessment of the situation. But still, Cousins has been in a downward spiral, so what is the solution?
“It’s growing up,” said an anguished Smart. “It’s a young player in an environment to where he is trying to establish himself as a basketball player, but also grow as a young man. So these things take time. Sometimes it’s not going to be the way that we want it to be.”
Cousins’ former agent John Greig was another piece to this alleged non-existent support system in Sacramento. Greig became a fixture around the Kings’ facilities and was seen as a father figure to Cousins by most until he was let go by the 22-year-old center three weeks ago.
“I would just say that on my end, I’m genuinely concerned for him to get on the right track,” Greig told NBA.com’s David Aldridge on Sunday. “I hope that he’s able to see the good nature that’s inside of him, and build upon it. I guess that’s all I can say.”
And that is where we are. We are at the concerned stage.
We are concerned for Cousins. We are concerned for the Kings. This situation has become all consuming.
While there are plenty of theories on how this will play out, it’s safe to say that the Kings are reluctant to part with their franchise cornerstone, no matter how unstable he appears to be.
“You can put that one to rest,” Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie told Aldridge. “He’s not going anywhere. You can lay that to rest. Some of that stuff lives in its own reality.”
Even if they were to entertain moving Cousins, trading a player with his unique mixture of potential and talent is problematic. He has value, but that value is completely masked in the rubble he has made of the Kings.
The real solution is figuring out how to get through to the young center. If you ask Cousins, it’s the constant losing that has driven him to where he is now.
“Stress,” Cousins told the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin, “It’s the stress. I really do care. I wish people understood how much I hate losing. Honestly, the losing really gets to me.”
Could this all boil down to a rudimentary skill that is learned on a little league baseball diamond or soccer fields around America? Everyone loves to win and hates to lose, but learning to be a gracious winner or loser is basic.
And who does Cousins have to blame for his team’s 12-20 record? At least some of that fault has to fall squarely on the player who has missed five games due to suspension and been a disruptive force both on and off the court, doesn’t it?
So while Cousins sorts through his issues, there is one thing that people on the outside looking in should know – Keith Smart isn’t giving up. He thinks of Cousins as a son and he would never walk away from one of his children.
“No matter how much you want a child to be able to walk, they can only crawl right now,” Smart said. “When it’s time for everything to fall into place, it happens with really no assistance. You’ve just got to make sure you have people around them that don’t take it personal when things happen and can bounce back and say, ‘You know what? Let’s move on. Lets move forward.’”
There are plenty of teams that think they can fix DeMarcus Cousins, but they have no idea what they are dealing with. Smart and his staff know and they are willing to keep fighting the good fight in hopes that they can make him into the man they know he can become. That is about the best support you can hope for.