The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem.
Which brings us to DeMarcus Cousins, the very talented Kings big man who is part of the USA Select Team, the group of young players brought in to training camp to work out and push Team USA.
On the first day of camp, Cousins was very physical. Too physical. Especially on what he should consider his own team. Carmelo Anthony described it as Cousins “fouling the s— out of everyone.” The Sacramento Bee described the reaction of some USA Basketball officials to Cousins this way (via SLAM).
Too much fouling. Too much trash-talking. Too much complaining about favoritism (edge, Olympians) to the referees. Too many frowns, head shakes and frustrated hand flips.
Cousins didn’t like that and told the Bee he asked Colangelo about it.
“I actually just had a conversation with (Colangelo),” Cousins revealed after Monday’s scrimmage between the Select Team and members of the recently named U.S. Olympic squad. “I asked him, ‘How was I being immature?’ He never really gave me an answer. I mean, I really wanted to know. I took offense to it. … It definitely bothered me.”
Colangelo saw it a little differently.
“Everything’s cool,” Colangelo said when reached later in the day. “He wanted an explanation. I was trying to be more encouraging than anything else.”
Credit Cousins for going to him and talking about it.
Cousins is still learning and growing up — which is as one should expect. The question is not his basketball IQ or his game, it has always felt more like a sense of entitlement and not really grasping the situation. He has made strides, but that does not mean the journey is complete. And new coach Keith Smart did something smart that Paul Westphal was never able to do — build a relationship with Cousins. So when those moments do come, you go talk to him not smack him around in the media. It seems to work.
It’s the lesson Colangelo is learning, too.