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Demarcus Cousins And Kings

January 2, 2012 by staff 

Demarcus Cousins And KingsDemarcus Cousins And Kings, The Sacramento Kings are treating the $100 wound that is DeMarcus Cousins’ development with a two-cent bandage named Paul Westphal. It’s time to try another salve. No one ever thought turning DeMarcus Cousins into an NBA player would be easy. There’s a reason a skilled, productive center fell to No. 5 in the 2010 NBA Draft: because team executives were worried that he’d eat his way out of the league or be too much trouble to keep around.

Cousins spent the lockout getting into great shape — he’s much slimmer, and he’s reportedly lost 18 pounds since the start of December — and has just one touchy technical foul this season. (It was a late double-technical in the Sacramento Kings’ opener. He hasn’t complained to the officials — a rookie bugaboo — at all.) On the court, he’s struggled with his shot, missing an inordinate number of attempts at the rim. But he’s otherwise been productive, professional and good on the court. He’s No. 4 in the NBA in rebounds per game, No. 1 in offensive rebound rate and No. 2 in total rebound rate. He is working exceptionally hard.

But his mouth runs, and it has apparently run too much for the taste of Kings coach Paul Westphal. Westphal sent Cousins home on Sunday and held him out of Sacramento’s game against the New Orleans Hornets. (The Kings won 96-80 as New Orleans went ice-cold.) That’s not the weird part; while there had been nothing brewing in the public sightlines, we all know Cousins is a hothead, and we all suspect he lacks respect for Westphal.

What turned this into a firestorm was Westphal’s public statements about the suspension.

First, he never called it a suspension. That might be because it’s not a suspension. Suspensions come with missed paychecks and potential appeals from the players’ union; it’s unclear why the Kings failed to formally suspend Cousins. Adding to the oddity, the Kings sent out a statement from Westphal himself announcing that Cousins had demanded a trade and was sent home.

There is no franchise in the NBA traditionally as tight-lipped as the Sacramento Kings. Geoff Petrie, the team’s longtime personnel boss, makes Bill Belichick look like an oversharing 17-year-old on Facebook. To see the Kings’ head coach send out a statement not only fluffing up a discipline action against a star player with purple prose — seriously, read the statement in all its ninth-grade English class glory — but specifically detailed the crime is … it was completely out of character for the franchise we’ve known for the past decade and a half.

Only now, it’s the new norm. Petrie has ceded vast territories of control to Westphal, from trade input, free agent signings and the draft on down. Westphal has far more sway than even Rick Adelman did back in the Kings’ glory years. The problem is that Paul Westphal is not good at this. There is a reason no other team would seriously entertain making Westphal its coach back when Sacramento hired him in 2009. It’s because the NBA at large has a memory, and remembers why Westphal lost the last job he had as a head coach in the NBA.

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