Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins waited no more than a week into the 2011-2012 NBA season to demand a trade, Saturday’s dispiriting loss to the A’mare Stoudemire-deprived Knicks being a tipping point. While the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin argues the Kings “would be crazy” to deal Cousins, she’s hardly impressed with the club’s decision to tar him as a hopeless malcontent while justifying sending the second-year C home before last night’s win over New Orleans.
“I think it’s time for this solution,” Paul Westphal. “There are many, many things that go on behind closed doors in this business that is nobody’s business. Certainly you’ve heard the cliché, ‘the tip of the iceberg.’ This is certainly the tip of the iceberg.” But where’s the rest of it? A one-game (at least) slapdown? By refusing to offer specifics about the incident, the Kings left too much to the imagination. Locker rooms buzz like the old game of telephone game, the story juicier by the retelling.
Rumors and innuendo ran scooted around the arena last night like a four-month-old puppy. The tweeters had enough punch lines for a sequel to “The Social Network.” And, initially, at least, Westphal’s action had the feel and smell of a diversionary tactic, an attempt to spin the team’s downward tale and sluggish start on the biggest and easiest target in the building: the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins.
Cousins, 21, is hardly the only disgruntled player of the three-year Westphal Era. Kevin Martin, Omri Casspi, Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert expressed similar trade desires during their own Kings tenures, though none apparently took their requests directly to the coach. Additionally, Westphal’s one-game sitdown of Spencer Hawes in Feb., 2009, for publicly stating confusion about his role still seems like a gross overreaction.
Asked again late Sunday about his reasons for the dramatic and very public spanking of Cousins, Westphal replied: “He asked to be traded. We’re going one direction. He’s going anything direction. It’s that simple.” But, of course, it’s not that simple. Cousins, in only his second year, has made significant progress by any measure. This is not the same player who was drafted with the No.5 overall pick in 2010 and showed up at the Las Vegas Summer League woefully out of shape.