Earlier this morning, Turner Sports hosted a media conference call featuring the former franchise power forward and Greg Anthony, his colleague and new lead analyst for CBS Sports’ college basketball coverage. I managed to get in a few questions to gauge Webber and Anthony’s thoughts on the Kings and they offered plenty of perspective.
As a friend, Webber is happy for O’Neal’s new venture into NBA ownership. But speaking as an ex-King, it’s a different story. In fact, Webber’s stomach likely turns at the thought of the former Los Angeles Laker owning a piece of the franchise he once tormented.
Yeah that’s something. I’ve talked to the ownership group and Shaq is my boy. So as a friend, I’m happy he’s an owner. As a King, it’s disgusting.
When I asked, Webber also had plenty to say about the franchise’s new cornerstone player. The Turner sports analyst says that he’s thought highly of Cousins after hearing the praise of former long-time Kings assistant coach Pete Carril. Here are Webber’s complete thoughts on what he thinks Cousins must do to take next the step in his career this year.
I think there a lot of things he can do and there’s a lot of things the organization can do to build trust with the player, to put the correct people around him in an environment that will work, so I think it’s on the organization. And two, himself, as we’ve talked before, he needs to make sure he holds himself accountable and plays as hard as he can every night.
He’s one of the most talented big man I’ve seen and when coach Pete Carril told me that he’s one of the best big guys he’d ever seen, knowing coach never uses his words like that lightly, I believed it sight unseen.
And the kid’s incredible, I think that he just needs to build some consistency, some trust and relax in the trust. And I think that he could have a great opportunity. The contract, knowing new ownership does a great player make, it’s all in the commitment that he puts in himself.
Anthony also weighed in on the Cousins debate, suggesting that no other center in the league comes close to matching the skill of the 23-year-old big man.
Listen to me, from a talent standpoint and an ability standpoint, DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t take a backseat to anybody at the center position in the NBA. The question is whether or not he’s going to mature to a point where he can take advantage of that ability.
The great players, what separates the good guys from great guys is not necessarily always their ability, but it’s their mental makeup. And that’s the question and gonna be the challenge for DeMarcus. And I would suspect that DeMarcus would tell you that himself, that that’s where his real growth will come.
It’s not from his basketball talent; it’s from his mental makeup. If he matures and becomes the pro that his talent dictates, then Sacramento is gonna have an anchor on that frontline for many years to come.
As far as the Kings’ roster is concerned, Anthony believes the Kings’ conservative offseason was a wise decision. The 45-year-old former journeymen point guard likes that the new ownership, front office and coaching staff are taking stock in what they have before making any major moves.
Well I would say, I think it’s smart that when you make the type of changes that you make at the top that you come in and evaluate your roster before you start making wholesale personnel changes. You know with their new coach Mike Malone, they’ve brought in a guy whose far more defensive oriented for a team that was next to the worst defensive team in the league. And then when you’re as athletic as they are, that shouldn’t be the case. So I think they’re going to make a point of emphasis there.
And I think also a lot their growth, as we just mentioned with DeMarcus Cousins, is gonna have to come from some of their young talent. You know they did make the big decision to move Tyreke Evans, so obviously that’s going to open up that backcourt a little bit. And I think they’re going to be in a situation where they’re gonna evaluate, see which guys fit the system of Mike Malone and how DeMarcus Cousins develops.