Unhappy with the team's performance following Monday's 106-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Cousins "stormed into the locker room and cursed out head coach George Karl with a torrent of obscenities," Jason McIntyre of the Big Lead reported. Karl did not engage with Cousins at the time, and teammates later told the All-NBA center that his tactics were not conducive to winning.
Cousins later apologized in a statement provided by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
Kings vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac commented on the situation, telling Spears, "[Cousins' tirade] wasn't on George (Karl). He spoke his mind, frustration about 1-7. I'm OK with it. Most important thing we had after the meeting was we were on the same page, bottom line, on how to improve. That's positive stuff."
Cousins' displeasure with the franchise's direction is no secret. When he spoke to the media Monday night, Cousins called for a players-only meeting and said the problems with the team were not on the court.
"Everything I can't really speak on," Cousins said of the issues, per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. "We got some issues that we got to carve out. Can't really speak on that. But one thing is, us players, we got to stick together. And just with that, that'll get us through most battles. We got some issues in-house we need to figure out."
McIntyre's report indicated the players-only meeting did not go well. Teammates dismissed the frustrations of former first-round pick Ben McLemore, who was questioning his role. McLemore was recently removed from the starting lineup in favor of James Anderson.
Of course, the real focus here is on the Karl-Cousins dynamic. The pairing seems to have been doomed from the start. Cousins' camp reportedly opposed Karl's hiring from the outset, and ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported the head coach tried trading his star player over the summer. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive understandably blocked Karl from making a Cousins-centric trade.
The unpleasantness has continued through Sacramento's 1-7 start, with players—not just Cousins—questioning Karl's coaching strategies.
"I'm not saying they don't like the system," Divac said, per James Ham of CSN Bay Area. "They just aren't buying in yet."
McIntyre reported Divac asked the locker room whether the Kings should fire Karl.
Karl, a 64-year-old future Hall of Famer, has coached 38 games for the Kings since being hired following the All-Star break last season. If the franchise lets him go, it will be making its fourth coaching hire (interim or otherwise) since Vivek Ranadive took over as owner in 2013. While that paints an ugly picture of an obviously dysfunctional franchise, the situation between Cousins and Karl may be too toxic to save.
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