The Sacramento King are dealing with a star player who is unhappy because the team isn’t winning, and some people want to make the situation worse by getting rid of him.
This will be the Kings’ 10 consecutive losing season, and star center DeMarcus Cousins is becoming increasingly frustrated with the losing. Cousins showed his frustration again recently when he lashed out at coach George Karl, drawing a one-game team suspension for his outburst.
This prompted the cheer-leading columnists at The Sacrament Bee to propose two possible solutions to the problem: Trade Cousins or release him. There’s a third option: Keep Cousins and replace all the role players who clutter up the roster.
As things stand now, the Kings have 12 backups and three starters: Cousins, forward Rudy Gay, and point guard Rajon Rondo. Cousins is among the premier big men in the league, among the leaders in scoring, rebounding and other categories. He’s truly a once-in-a-generation player.
Gay is one of those players who gets you a quiet 18 to 20 points a game, because that’s all he’s really interested in doing. If he’s caught grabbing a rebound or defending somebody, it’s because he couldn’t avoid it. The Kings signed Rondo to a one-year deal because nobody else wanted him. Now that he’s proved again that he’s an upper tier point guard, he’s likely to leave the Kings for a better team and more money.
Many of the Kings’ problems can be traced to mismanagement by the Maloof brothers at the end of their reign, but the current management hasn’t yet created the stability winning teams have. They have not been able to draft players who can make an immediate impact, and they sign free agents who can score but don’t defend.
The Kings have no trouble scoring–they’re third in that category–but they have the worse defense in the NBA. The only reserves worth keeping are Omri Casspi, who brings energy and good point production when he’s in the game, Darren Collison, and Willie Cauley-Stein, who can be a premier rebounder and shot blocker in a couple of years. Nobody will miss the rest of them.
The Kings have a long slog before they become a good team. Fortunately for them, they have a loyal fan base and a shiny new arena. But the fans will become restless and the arena will lose its gloss if the team doesn’t start showing the improvement managing partner Vivek Ranadive insists will come.
Of course, he’s been saying that since his group paid $534 million for the team almost three years ago.