ScapeG.O.A.T. by Kevin Dailey
“Death, taxes and the Sacramento Kings.” — Benjamin Franklin
Another NBA season has come and gone in Sacramento, and once again, the Kings find themselves in the highly competitive race for the bottom spot of the Western Conference. In many ways, the end result of this season will not be much different than that of any Kings season in the past decade. Unreasonably high expectations, front office/ coaching turmoil, player unrest and King’s fans growing resentment of Slamson the Lion’s unrelenting enthusiasm. What made this year standout from the rest is the fact the Kings — for one brief shining moment — showed a glimmer of hope.
For good reason, the Kings were counted out before the regular season even began — and for the first three months of the season — the Kings looked like they had no plans of proving anyone wrong.
Then, something clicked. In the month of January, the Kings took “New Year, New Me” to heart and went on an absolute tear. A 6-game winning streak landed them in sole possession of the 8th-seed in the Western Conference and just 1-1/2 games back from the 7th. Kings fans were euphoric (myself included). The Kings hadn’t found themselves playing meaningful games in the month of January in what seemed like ages. It was a glorious few weeks.
Then, in classic Kings fashion, it all came crumbling down. The Sacramento hot streak was put to an end with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Hornets, lead by the always anticipated late game heroics of Troy Daniels (He’s a player in the NBA, if you didn’t know). It’s a feeling that Kings fans have become accustomed to over the years. The brief shining moment, followed by the dramatic crash down to earth. But still, even the most pessimistic of Kings fans could admit that this go around of false hope felt different than all the others. The team was playing together, having fun on the court and doing so while beating legitimate playoff contenders.
So what was the reason for this sudden surge of success? A few things, including good team defense, an apparent buy-in to Karl’s system and stellar play by the likes of Rajon Rondo, Omri Casspi and the rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. But at the heart of this brief (and trust me, I know how brief it was) playoff push, was the one man who always seems to be at the heart of the drama in Sacramento; DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins earned player of the month honors for the month of January, after finishing with over 30-points in 9 of the Kings 15-games, including back to back 48 and 56-point dominating performances. It wasn’t the first time that Kings fans have seen Boogie Cousins go off, but it was the first time it was starting to translate into on-court success.
It really seemed for a moment, that not only were the Kings turning a corner, but DMC was driving the bus.
It’s not often you find an athlete that is as perplexing an enigma as DeMarcus Cousins. Depending on who you ask, the guy is either the entire reason for the Kings prolonged disappointment, or he is the entire reason the Kings have had ANY chance at success since his joining the team 6-years ago. Hell, many have even made the argument that he is the greatest Sacramento King of all time. Cousin’s off-and-on court issues have been beaten to death. But there is no question that their have been more volatile athletes than Cousin’s that have found success in the past. Yet still, Cousin’s remains the quarterback of the Sacramento Kings saga. When they’re good, he gets the credit and when they’re bad, he gets the blame. So the question remains, is it fair that the Sacramento Kings organization and fans alike, have placed the weight of a city’s expectations on a 25 year old’s shoulders?
Obviously, this is a difficult question to answer. Actually, no, it’s not. Cousins wants to be in Sacramento. He wants to be one of the greatest of all time, he’s made no secret of that. Franchise players should take the brunt of the blame when their team fails, and when they succeed. If that’s what he wants to be, then that’s what he’ll get. But there are better places than Sacramento for him to take that on.
What the Sacramento Kings organization needs is a complete overall haul, top to bottom. The Kings front office has been as poorly run as any franchise in professional sports since Vivek & Co. have taken over. What they did to save the team was fantastic, and shouldn’t be forgotten. But that good karma has all but run out. It ran out with me when Isaiah Thomas was shipped out the door for a trade exception and Alex Oriakhi (to be fair, he may only need another 3-years in the D-League to show his real value.) Sure, the new arena will keeps fans occupied for a while, but ask Brooklyn Nets fans nowadays how they feel about the Barclays Center.
I am one of Boogie Cousins biggest fans. I think he’s an incredible talent. He is the closest thing the league has seen to Shaq since the Big Diesel retired in 2011. He is worth the baggage he carries with him. He’s just not worth it for this team. And I’m not saying that any theoretical players you could get in a trade for DMC would be the right fit either. But if you’re the Kings, you have a chance this offseason to take out the cartridge, blow and press reset.
The broken love triangle that is DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings organization and the fans in Sacramento has gone on for too long.
It’s time the King’s find a new scapegoat.