The Sacramento Kings have dealt with an inordinate amount of trouble from DeMarcus Cousins, a guy who is supposed to be a big part of their rebuilding process. Cousins has now been suspended, this time indefinitely, for the third time this season.
This time around, the Kings big man has been suspended for arguing with Kings head coach Keith Smart at halftime of the Kings' recent 97-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Cousins was ordered to stay in the locker room and was benched for the remainder of the game.
These instances (save the run-in with Mayo) might have blown over quickly if it were someone else, but Cousins' history has played into his punishment.
That's the problem with Cousins. He's not necessarily a guy who wants to cause trouble—he's just a notorious hothead who has difficulty controlling his emotions.
We first saw what Cousins was really capable of in terms of team destruction when Paul Westphal was fading out of favor in Sacramento.
Westphal's final few days were wrought with comments about Cousins being unwilling to work with and contribute to the team.
Basically, Cousins was a distraction.
The Kings coach was fired just a few days after those comments, partly because of a cumulative 51-120 record with the Kings, and partly because the team chose to appease Cousins over Westphal.
Sacramento must nip this situation in the bud before things start to spiral out of control yet again.
Coach Smart seems to be taking a more hard-lined approach to dealing with Cousins, which could end up being good for him. Via SI.com:
We're trying to set a standard here, and when guys move below that standard, things are going to take place.
At least this time around, Cousins knew he was in the wrong:
I'm a player that definitely wants to win every night, and I'm an emotional player. That's never going to change. But I shouldn't have responded back. Something was said, and I just should have stayed quiet. Is it a humbling thing? Yeah, I will say that. I mean, I messed up and I apologize to my teammates for responding the way I did and I'll move on from it.
The questions that remain with the Kings are whether or not they are the right team for Cousins and if they can turn him around with the personnel they have at their disposal.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is better for both parties involved, and if these outbursts continue, that just might be what the Kings should do with Cousins.
However, what teams out there would be interested in giving up assets for a talented yet disruptive young man?
Of course, a team would have to give up a handful of good pieces to end up trading for Cousins, so instead of getting too deep into what it would take to get him, it seems more pertinent to look at which teams would fit him best.
It doesn't seem to be a personnel issue, but which organizations and head coaches would be able to discipline and deal with an emotionally delicate guy like Cousins?
While the Rockets continue to search for who they are as a team, their head coach is a guy who is capable of demanding respect from his players while teaching them a thing or two.
Honestly, getting a guy like Kevin McHale to not only hold him accountable, but to teach him a thing or two in the low post would be the best thing possible for his career.
Cousins continues to be a relatively inefficient big man, and working with McHale would not only make the most of his physical skills, but help him learn to control his emotions.
As far as young teams go, there aren't many that would make Cousins happier in terms of personnel than the Cavaliers.
He would play with an extremely skilled point guard (Kyrie Irving) and a coach (Byron Scott) who is the constant example of a guy who is stern but fair.
There are better options in terms of teams that would win soon, but this situation could help Cousins grow up, just by example.
It's a strange one to consider, but the Magic and their young head coach, Jacque Vaughn, could really help Cousins out in the long run.
He isn't one who has the history that's going to demand respect from everybody, but Vaughn was in the league just a few years ago.
Once again, this wouldn't be a win-now situation, but it would be a coach who could be more than just a guy yelling at Cousins from the sidelines—he could be a mentor.
As far as two-way coaches go, there are few in the game who are more effective and creative than Rick Carlisle.
He's been successful in the past, and he's done a great job turning O.J. Mayo into a levelheaded player capable of making the best shot selections possible.
The pieces probably aren't there to elicit much desire from the Kings, but if they were to pull something off, it might be the best possible situation for Cousins.