Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Run, DMC

News surfaced earlier in the week that DeMarcus Cousins wants out of Sacramento after a feud with Kings coach Paul Westphal.

It's no secret that Cousins has maturity issues - it's the sole reason he fell to #5 behind the likes of Evan Turner, Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson - but the extent of it has more or less remained behind closed doors. That Westphal has chosen to go public with his feelings points to the fact that this goes a lot deeper than Cousins' poor shot selection and a lack of defensive effort, a revelation that should alarm Kings fans and give cause for a lot of DMC fans to at least rethink their evaluation of the young man.

Over at Sactown Royalty, SB Nation's Kings blog, the fans are split on whether Cousins is truly a head case (a la Ron Artest Metta World Peace) or is just clashing with a historically soft coach and just needs to grow up (presumably, a drill sergeant type coach couldn't hurt). One of the commenters at Sactown Royalty made a brilliant comparison between Cousins and two All-NBA talent big men, who also happened to have mental issues - Eddy Curry (who refused to admit to a heart condition, then went on a crusade to dethrone Shaq as the biggest fat-ass in the league) and Zach Randolph (who was more interested in his own stats [and other off-court... distractions] and exerting himself only when it suited his next contract). Randolph eventually found himself in the right situation with the Grizzlies and led Memphis to one game short of the Western Conference Finals. Curry is currently with the Miami Heat after being out of action for... well, I've never seen him dress for a game, put it that way. This is surely his last chance on an NBA roster, and by this stage he figures to be little more than a backup on a bad team or a 3rd stringer on a good one.

Is DeMarcus Cousins on a similar trajectory? It's hard to say no. He's been described as selfish and childish. Cousins apologists will point to his age and suggest he'll grow out of it, but that's not going to happen without some help. In my opinion, it would take a new coach, a change of scenery or a veteran bitch-slapping some sense into him, maybe even all three. Technically, the Kings could fire/not extend Westphal, move to Kansas City and bring in some strong locker room voices, but that wouldn't really be a win for Sacramento fans, so let's forget that.

In all reality, the Kings' best hopes for getting DeMarcus to grow up is to crack down on any future misconduct from now on and threaten to suspend him for long stretches if his act doesn't improve. They could also use some voices in the locker room with a little more credibility than John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. Someone who hasn't just been in the league, but has been there, done that. The likes of Lamar Odom or Tyson Chandler would be ideal, but obviously unrealistic - the Kings could do worse than make a play for a guy cut from the mold of a Kurt Thomas.

For Cousins to reach his potential, he's going to have to start respecting the coaching staff, his teammates and himself. NBA players are egomaniacs as a rule, but only the truly transcendent talents (LeBron, Kobe) can justify their egos. DeMarcus Cousins, while highly skilled, is not a transcendent talent and the sooner he realises that, the better.

Don't read too much into the trade rumours, because Cousins has no leverage and the Kings could conceivably keep him under contract, through his rookie scale and then restricted free agent status for at least another 4 seasons.

I had every intention of finishing up by offering some fun (if unlikely) trade scenarios via the ESPN Trade Machine. I fidgeted with a few different outcomes, mostly trying to make all parties happy... couldn't do it. Best I could come up with was to ship Cousins to Charlotte (Jordan would surely have his respect... surely) in return for production at the 3 in the way of Corey Maggette. Yeah... I think the Kings could do better. As a Suns fan, I wouldn't mind swapping one hot-headed, glass-door-smashing defensive big man for a hot-headed, near-Pau Gasol-punching offensive big man. But then, I think of Eddy Curry and figure I'd rather hold onto Lopez and have a crack at Cousins in RFA if he's got his shit together.

Anyway, that's enough rambling from me. Don't expect Cousins to get traded any time soon, but don't expect him to grow up either. DMC wants to run, and he'll probably end up offended by the fact nobody actually wants to trade for him. Another chip on the shoulder, just what he needs. This surely won't be the last we hear of DeMarcus Cousins.


  1. Sounds like Rasheed Wallace 2.0

  2. Indeed it does. 'Cept DeMarcus ain't a 3pt shooter!