Demarcus Cousins

Kings’ Cousins demands trade… or did he? Sacramento is a mess.

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UPDATE 8:53 pm: Here is coach Paul Westphal’s pregame quote to the media and comments about the Cousins situation, via NBA.com.

“He can only have so many chances and something has to be done.  And it’s time something has to be done.”  Westphal is not sure if Cousins will travel with the team on their two game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Memphis.  He did say that Cousins needed to do some “soul searching” and that he hopes that, “DeMarcus has a change of heart and joins up with full reinstatement, that’s really up to him and I hope that.”

7:30 pm: We knew there were problems in Sacramento, but we didn’t realize that “black hole-like implosion” was going to be an accurate term.
DeMarcus Cousins has demanded a trade, coach Paul Westphal said in a statement. That is something Cousin’s agent denied to Sports Illustrated.

All we do know for sure is Cousins has been told to stay home as the Kings host the Hornets Sunday. Here is Westphal’s statement.

“Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction. As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life!

As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.

Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public. This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.

DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight.”

The coach, who has a running feud with the player, is releasing statements and not the GM and/or team president? Interesting situation in Sacramento. And if Cousins doesn’t want to travel in the same direction as this struggling team, is that a bad thing?

By releasing this statement and sitting him, the Kings have publicly put Cousins on the market.

Cousins’ agent John Greig said there was no trade demand to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick:

“DeMarcus never demanded a trade. I’m surprised the Kings, if they believe the player wanted… a trade, wouldn’t have made a phone call to his representative. Maybe Westphal is just feeling the heat early this season.”

Yea, all this is going to help rally the hard working people of Sacramento behind the team and keep the Kings in the California capital.

Cousins had been frustrated pretty much since he got to the Kings with how he was being used in the offense. He has clashed with Westphal and the coaching staff repeatedly and was suspended by the team from games because of it. His fit with Tyreke Evans was not developing, although how much of that was on them and how much was on Westphal is up for debate. There are a lot of people who can shoulder blame for a lot of things in Sacramento.

Cousins, just starting his second season, is a good big man with the potential to be very good, but there are plenty of questions around the league about his focus, maturity and work ethic. He is strong, a very good rebounder and has some skills around the rim (although he has struggled with that this season, shooting just 36.4 percent inside three feet and a terrible 32 percent overall, but he keeps shooting a lot). His defense has great potential but needs work. The general consensus can be summed up in a quote from Bull Durham, “million dollar body and a five cent head.”

Which leads to a question of how much the Kings can really get for him? If I were GM of a rebuilding team that had a long way to go I’d consider putting in an offer (I’m looking at you, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers) but I wouldn’t offer actually valuable pieces going forward. Picks would be top 10 protected, players would not be near the potential that Cousins has. If the Kings trade him, they will not get equal value. But maybe that is worth it to them right now.

Steve Kerr will not “just stick to sports,” embraces new era of player political/social activism

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NEW ORLEANS — “Just stick to sports.”

Anytime an athlete speaks out on social issues, or wades into the political arena, Twitter swells with that comment — from people who disagree with the statement. In the wake of a polarizing election and controversial moves from President Donald Trump — such as his executive order on an immigration seven majority Muslim countries — there has been criticism of his moves from Commissioner Adam Silver, coaches such as Gregg Popovich, as well as players.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been at the front of that criticism, and he is not going to “just stick to sports.”

“If you stick to that mantra, then everybody should stick to what they’re doing, right? That means nobody’s allowed to have a political opinion,” Kerr said during All-Star weekend, where he was repeatedly asked about political and social issues. “It just so happens we get these microphones stuck in our face and we have a bigger platform. But it’s free speech and, if you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don’t speak.”

The “just stick to sports” crowd almost always opposes what the players said, but root their comments in the idea sports should be an escape from the political realm or other worldly challenges. Even though at it’s best sports has never been that — not with Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali or Olympic protests.

Kerr noted that in our modern world with so many outlets for getting your information, fans can choose to avoid political discussions in sports if they wish — just don’t click the link.

“I think you can follow sports however you want as a fan. If you want to watch the games to get away from everyday life, you can do that,” Kerr said. “You can turn on the games and watch the Warriors play or watch the Spurs play or whoever, and it’s just going to be about basketball. If you don’t want to read about political issues, you don’t have to read it. It’s the same in any field, whether it’s basketball, or entertainment, even politics themselves, you have to choose what you want to read about and follow. 

“We are in a society where a lot of us have microphones in our face every day, and a lot of us feel strongly about our need to speak out on injustice. I think it’s important. But it’s up to the individual fan to take that in or not. They can pick and choose.”

For a long time, there has been less social activism among athletes — not just in the NBA, but across sports. That is changing again, and Kerr said it’s a reaction to the times in which we live.

“I think maybe over the last 20 or 30 years there hasn’t been that same sense of urgency because we’ve generally lived in a pretty peaceful era, but it feels like it’s changing and so the whole country is changing in terms of its activism and social awareness,” Kerr said…

“For a long time, a lot of athletes stayed out of the political forum, out of fear of losing customers, and I think it’s refreshing that we have athletes who are putting their social beliefs ahead of any marking issues. I think that’s powerful.”

Kerr spoke out some on a long weekend where he had a microphone in his face a lot,  opposing President Trump policies such as building a border wall with Mexico for example. However, mostly he praised both the increased social activism of players and the stance of the league to stand up for inclusion — including moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”

“Free speech is one of the principles our country was founded on, I think there’s some responsibility that goes with that if you see injustice,” Kerr said. “That’s why I think the league has been great in terms of understanding that responsibility and taking action, such as moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans….

“I think what the NBA tries to preach is equality, and inclusion — we don’t just talk about it, we live it. We have this beautiful game where we have people from every race and religion and background, and we like that in our fans, too.”

While the league has turned its words into actions such as moving the All-Star Game — and warning Texas if they pass a similar bill Houston is likely out of the running for the 2020 edition of the game — the question is what the next step will be for the players. Commenting on social injustice is one thing, but how do they turn that into actions?

“That’s not my department,” Kerr said with a shrug. “I have spoken out on issues and will continue to do so, and I think the league has done a really good job of walking the walk. Moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to here I think was an important statement for the league — we are about inclusion and equality for everybody, regardless of gender, race, religion, background, anything.”

Coaches such as Kerr, as well as NBA players, have a bigger megaphone to get out their views because they are interviewed by the media almost daily. Kerr said that he feels players have a responsibility to step up and be heard on issues, not just “stick to sports.”

“I think if you’re in a certain position, and you feel strongly about something, then I think it’s important and you should (speak out),” Kerr said. “But we all live different lives in different places, we’re from different backgrounds with different journeys, and what’s important to me might not be important to somebody else, and visa vera.

“But we’re all in a position where we can make a difference, and I think players understand that.”

Isaiah Thomas (correctly) says that trade wouldn’t be allowed in a video game

Sacramento Kings Media Day
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Kings trade of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for a first-round pick, a second-round pick, Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway left many of us shellshocked by Sacramento’s meager return.

Apparently including Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas:

I recently participated in the Dunc’d On Basketball Podcast mock trade deadline, in which Nate Duncan, Danny Leroux, Kevin Pelton and I each took teams and negotiated trades. After the actual Cousins deal, I asked Pelton what he would’ve done if he had the Kings in our podcast and got that offer.

He just burst into laughter.

Thomas might likewise find the trade laughable, but that’s not everything at play with his tweet. The Kings once scorned him, and he hasn’t forgotten.

Emotional DeMarcus Cousins near tears saying goodbye to Sacramento after trade

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Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac took a parting shot at DeMarcus Cousins‘ character when he spoke to the media about the deal.

Cousins could be challenging in the locker room, but he was committed to Sacramento in ways most teams wish their star would be. He was active in the community, did charity work, and was not one of the players that alerted the media and dragged along a video crew when he did. Cousins loves Sacramento.

You can see it as he tears up when saying goodbye to those close to him in this video.

On the court, the trade to New Orleans and the chance to play next to Anthony Davis could be a huge boost for Cousins’ career. We’ll never know what could have been if the Kings knew how to draft or stuck with a system/coach.

But off the court, Sacramento will miss him. And he will miss them.

All-Star game television ratings are best since 2013

Western Conference forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (23 ) slam dunks during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)
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NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA All-Star game drew an average audience of 7.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star broadcast since 2013.

Turner Sports announced the numbers on Monday. The number of viewers peaked at 8.5 million and the total audience was up 3 percent from last year’s game.

The hype surrounding the game centered on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing on the Western Conference team together. Durant left Oklahoma City last summer to join Golden State, leaving his longtime teammate Westbrook behind with the Thunder. Westbrook did not hide his dissatisfaction with Durant, which ratcheted up the intrigue heading into the game on Sunday.

The two shared the court for just 81 seconds and Oklahoma City posted the highest local market rating with a 10.9.