Will the Kings part ways with their top player?
Cousins has been a bit of a disaster since being drafted by the Kings with the fifth overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft. Sacramento clearly has an issue with the way that he carries himself, and that’s partially been shown this season when they suspended him for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.”
Cousins has been very open about his experiences in the NBA with the Kings, as noted in a conversation he had with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
I’m still not [given a chance]. It flip flops. When everything is good, [the organization] is good. When things go bad, there is nothing about that good person they remember. I just want that balance. You are either with me or you’re not.
Since the start of the New Year, Cousins has been playing great basketball. In nine January games, he’s averaging a double-double with 21.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field.
Will the Kings end up trading Cousins?
But while Cousins excels, the rest of the Kings don’t. Tyreke Evans has his nights, as do a couple of other role players, but overall, Sacramento is not a playoff basketball team—and Cousins can’t carry them there.
Sacramento is currently 15-24, which is the second-worst in the Pacific Division, the third-worst in the Western Conference and the ninth-worst in the NBA. The Kings are battling for a lottery pick, not a spot in the postseason.
It has not been confirmed whether Cousins definitely wants out of Sacramento, but it doesn’t seem as if the Kings are inclined to do so either way.
ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that the Kings will hang onto Cousins despite plenty of interest:
There is a lot of interest around the league, but from what I can gather, no GMs have had any success in making progress with the Kings on trade talks so far. The Kings appear to want to hold onto him. Lots can change in the next five weeks, but right now that’s where they stand.
The Kings need to realize that they don’t have a team that’s going to be great all of the sudden. It’s going to take a while before they have a roster of players who can compete for postseason berth and a shot at the NBA title. But that’s not now, and probably not for at least two or three years.
If there is all of this interest for Cousins, as Ford reported, then why not send him on his way and get the appropriate return for him. Could Sacramento not acquire a lottery pick for him? He is the best player on the Kings, but who’s to say they couldn’t get better players by trading him?
What the Kings need to understand is that they and DeMarcus Cousins are not a good fit. They have the ability to fix that by dealing him and trying to get even better in the future. And if they’re going to act, they need to do so quickly, as Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated reports:
We do all of this research and background work on players now before we draft them,” one NBA team executive said. “I think half of the consideration when we look at players now is trying to understand who these guys are as people. I really do think that most teams are going to say they don’t want any part of him.
So while teams still have interest in a player whose trade value could start to decrease, Sacramento needs to make a decision. The best decision would be to give Cousins what he deserves: a fresh start with a new team.