The season hasn’t even started and DeMarcus Cousins is already in backpedal mode, his character again falling under question.
A mob of reporters practically gang-tackled the 22-year-old Cousins after Team USA’s shoot-around last week. What they were after was a soundbite from the big man, and they got it. This is a team whose rotation of big men includes Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard and Ryan Andersen, but when asked who his [Cousins'] main competition out there was, he quickly replied “Nobody.” This is a team full of olympic hopefuls here, not the Kenosha YMCA All-Stars.
His supporters felt it was classic Cousins bravado; the other half, his detractors, say it definitely did not help his olympic chances. But Cousins will change this year.
Contract years are a turning point for any NBA star, but Cousins’ contract is a curious case. There are a number of teams who would press the Sacramento Kings on the availibility of Cousins this year, but there are also teams that call the star a “cancer” and a “detriment.” Those kinds of brutal characteristics are not desirable. Teams steer clear of Cousins and any talk for a max deal unless they were sure they had the personnel to rein him in. There are other coaches in the NBA who could do a better job, but the best one may actually be sitting next to him.
Taking over as head coach is Michael Malone, who was hired shortly after Kings owner Vivek Ranadive bought the team. Malone is a no-nonsense, defense-first coach when it comes to his philosophy, those are traits that may not gel with Cousins at first glance, but a recent conversation between the two hints at a common bond.
” The one thing I love about DeMarcus is — he told me two things in the first conversation we had. He said , ‘Coach, I hate to lose. And people say that I’m not coachable, but I am.’ I said, ‘Well DeMarcus, right away we have something in common, because I hate to lose too. I’m very competitive. And you hate to lose, and you’re very competitive. Well you know what? Let’s not lose,’” said Malone
This early rapport between the two could get both coach and player on the same page before training camp even starts. Cousins has also maintained his stance that he wants to remain in Sacramento, which is good for the Kings, as they’re able to see if Cousins can back up his words with production on the court and less drama off it, but the only way this story will have a peaceful resolution is if Cousins puts up [double doubles] and shuts up. There is no other option, and time may be running out.