Sacramento Kings clear air with players’ only meeting Sunday

DeMarcus Cousins has a conversation with guard Jimmer Fredette in a match-up against the Philadelphia 76ers.  (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

Emotions have run high recently among the Sacramento Kings, so much so that team leaders DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas felt it was necessary to call a players’ only meeting yesterday.

The Kings’ frustrations with each other were out in the open for everyone to see in Saturday’s matchup against the Bobcats.  During a timeout in the third quarter, teammates visibly griped at one another following a series of miscommunicated plays on the floor.  Players had little to no comment about the in-fighting after the game.

“I think it was something needed, because some players were hitting their boiling points,” Cousins said of the meeting after practice Monday. “And we just needed to clear the air and talk amongst each other and not with the coaches. So, it was actually a real good meeting and we got a lot out of it. We had a very good practice today and hopefully we can keep moving forward.”

After capping off 2013 with wins against the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, the Kings have sputtered against teams with losing records in the first week of 2014. On Thursday, they fell to the Philadelphia 76ers (12-21) and Saturday, they lost to the Bobcats (15-20). According to Cousins, their inability to play with intensity against sub-.500 teams is one of the reasons that sparked the meeting.

“To be honest, we’re not that good of a team,” Cousins said.  “And the reality of it is, teams come in and they look at us like that.  So we’re gonna be underdogs no matter who the team is.  So we gotta come out and play at a high level every night.”

A number of issues were addressed by Cousins and his Kings teammates yesterday. He noted that “some guys’ mindsets,” the Kings’ offense and “sacrificing for one another” were just a few of the things that were covered.

Defense was another topic of discussion brought up in Sunday’s meeting. In Saturday’s loss, the Kings gave up 113 points to the Bobcats, a team that averages just 93.2 points per contest this season. Cousins believes that the Kings have trouble trusting each other against the NBA’s lower tier while they play with more urgency and “fear” against the upper-echelon teams.

“We gotta have each other’s back at all times,” the 23-year-old center said.  “Even when times get hard, we gotta have one another’s back.  We gotta learn to trust one another.  That’s another thing that’s hurting our defense.  We don’t always trust the guy that’s next in rotation to do their job, so it stops us from doing our job.”

Cousins, who was in high spirits after Monday’s practice, suggested that the Kings still have a ways to go in terms of improving team chemistry. However, he’s hopeful that Sunday’s meeting has set the Kings on the right path ahead of Tuesday’s matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I would say we’re in the right direction,” Cousins said. “We still got a lot of growing to do, so I wouldn’t say we’re all on the same page yet.”

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.