Goodnight, Sweet King: The DeMarcus Cousins Gut Punch

The former cornerstone of Sacramento basketball is stunningly gone, and Kings fans wish DeMarcus Cousins nothing but success.

DeMarcus Cousins made his third-straight All-Star appearance this weekend in New Orleans. He posted only two points in three minutes played, and the cogs that began to turn behind the scenes that planned his departure from Sacramento were unbeknownst to the former number five overall selection. Vlade Divac and other Kings’ executives were active on the phones, talking to numerous teams about the potential of moving Cousins. News of the negotiations surfaced late Sunday, and, by midnight, Adrian Wojnarowski had tweeted about the Pelicans’ newest acquisition.

The narrative before this weekend pointed towards the Kings signing Cousins to a lucrative 5-year, $219 million extension this offseason, securing him for the foreseeable future. Despite all of the leaks and talks throughout the year, owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Vlade Divac appeared set on retaining Cousins, yet Sacramento basketball fans watched their jaws hit the floor after the final details on the trade came through: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 top-3 protected first round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick for Cousins and Omri Casspi. The questions continued to pile up with no answers in sight.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins was traveling back to Sacramento on a private Kings plane as reports flooded his phone. The All-Star center ironically rode home from New Orleans with only with his assistant, his family, and the Kings’ director of media relations Chris Clark. Cousins has yet to comment on the finalized offer and most likely will hold his tongue until some of the dust settles. For now, the NBA community continues to fuel the fire while everyone scratches their heads with one question: what the hell happened?

vlade-and-vivek
GM Vlade Divac (left) and owner Vivek Ranadive

The change in mentality sets a bad precedent of a tinted wall between the perception of the organization from the fans and the reality of their mindset–especially after a press conference that includes admitting having a better deal in place but accepting a different one. The line between the onlookers and the executives needs to be more precise and transparent for a team that constantly gets caught in false rumors and drama. The integrity of the Sacramento Kings will continue to flounder until Divac and the rest of the team executives create a steadfast, concise plan of rebuilding that includes dignity, confidence, and logic when doing deals of this magnitude, which are some of things that the Cousins deal lacked.

However, the travesty in its simplest form is the loss of the one of the best Sacramento Kings of all time. Cousins ranks sixth in points per game and fourth in rebounds per game, ahead of Chris Webber, in Kings history. Boogie’s 27.8 PPG clip this season remains the highest of his career and will soon accompany Anthony Davis’ 27.7 PPG in New Orleans.

DeMarcus Cousins’ continual dedication to the city of Sacramento during his tenure cannot be understated. Many critics point to his erratic behavior on the floor and his expressive demeanor in the locker room as signs of his inability to deal with stardom, but Cousins’ ability to spell conjecture from reporters and focus on his game went heavily unrecognized. As the scenery around him changed, from new players to new coaches to new arenas to new owners, DeMarcus Cousins kept his head down and worked relentlessly on his game. Cousins has increased his scoring figures in each season but one in his career despite seeing six coaches in seven seasons. No lack of continuity could keep the three-time All-Star from leaving it all on the hardwood each and every game. Some tout DeMarcus Cousins as a petulant, needy superstar who will never be fit to win an NBA championship as the head dog on any squad, yet those same analysts neglect the frustration a man that ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring dealing with a spineless, indecisive front office might amass over seven seasons. Tack on the caveats of a small-market and sub-par talent around him, and the pot simply boiled over. His league-leading 19 technical fouls remain a mere scapegoat to point towards when asked about the ability of Cousins’ leadership. Unless it means hurting the Kings, many of the loyal fans in Sacramento wish that DeMarcus Cousins proves to the NBA community that he was not the problem.

The idiocy of Divac, Ranadive, and the Kings executives got exposed on a national scale with this deal, and basketball in the city may fumble for quite a long time as a result. Meanwhile, citizens of Sacramento salute the big man in his journey to New Orleans. DeMarcus Cousins’ riveting impact left much to be desired in the win column, but he did everything he could with the atmosphere he was given. The striking pain left in the hearts of the team’s supporters continues to ache, but hopefully with some change in the upper ranks and a stroke of luck, the Kings will find their way once more.

By: Oscar Rzodkiewicz

@ORzodkiewicz

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