DeMarcus Cousins Needs to Remain a King

I’ve flown too close to Hot Take City and I got burned. I can’t listen to another person saying that the Kings have to trade Cousins.

Monday’s episode of NBA TV’s The Starters led off with the reigning NBA controversy of the weekend: another suspension for Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins. All the NBA tastemakers have gotten in on the action and I’ve been digesting a bit of the chatter from r/NBA.

With this latest outburst the tide seems to be turning against DeMarcus among the Twitterati. He’s had enough chances. He’s shown he can’t mature. He’s demonstrated his teams can’t win. I don’t think any of those things are true, but that’s for a different day. Yet, another incident is another chance for people to re-evaluate where they stand on those questions. Let’s be clear: this isn’t a good thing. This isn’t a positive. It’s just what you expect at this point. But why is anyone expecting different results when the problems are the same? The relationship between the coach and the player is still toxic and the front office is still incompetent. George Karl isn’t getting the best out of his players and Cousins is rightfully skeptical of Divac/Ranadive’s ability to hire the next coach with the knowhow and desire to create a winning culture. Why should he be satisfied?

These outbursts are a sign of immaturity from DeMarcus. They are a sign of someone who doesn’t understand how to work with authority figures. They are what happens when you take hyper-competitive people and put them in not only losing, but non-constructive situations. The Kings aren’t building anything with their play this year. You can talk all you want about how “a real star wouldn’t act this way” or how “Anthony Davis wouldn’t do this”, but it’s moot. DeMarcus is a different person and different people act in different ways. There are only a dozen or so transformationally talented basketball-playing humans on the planet — you can’t decide that you don’t want to work with one of them because they throw temper tantrums. By the way, the Kings record is somehow still better than the Pelicans.

Karl is the wrong coach for this team. He famously grates on star players, does not have a commitment to defense, and isn’t in the proper health to manage the rigors of an NBA season. They have a terrible defense and an awkward roster that requires creativity to bring the most out of it — it lacks the shooters at most positions to put together a modern, spacing-based offense. Karl is a cookie cutter “system guy” who was hired to make the Kings #1 in the league in pace. He’s done that and it’s accomplished nothing.

Cousins is watching an opportunity to resign and create something in Sacramento slip away. He is fed up because he is going to be faced with free agency in two years time and he is going to have to decide if he wants to stay loyal to his city or win some basketball games. The decision should be easy to DeMarcus: he is the epitome of loyal and a tremendous figure in the community. He is the fan favorite of fan favorites. He wants to resign, but he won’t be able to if the organization can’t implement stability.

The Kings won’t get anything useful by trading DeMarcus Cousins. His trade value will be below his production because of these types of controversies, so you can’t get equal on-court production back. Even if they flipped him into a first rounder or two, that’s another first round talent to languish in Sacramento’s doldrums. Most importantly, you’re saying to everyone in the league, “We drafted perhaps the best player in our organization’s history and we did nothing with it. He was loved by the fans, but we put madness around him and then dumped him.”

What is the plan going forward? After they trade DeMarcus are the Kings THEN going to hire qualified coaches and end the executive meddling in basketball operations? Why don’t they start doing that RIGHT NOW and keep DeMarcus Cousins? There is still a chance. If next season the Kings are trending in the right direction that impact is huge. If the Kings win even 40 games that is huge.

Resigning DeMarcus Cousins in free agency is worth all the draft picks in the world.

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