DeMarcus Cousins benched for second half for Kings after argument with coach

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We told you there was plenty of friction in the Kings locker room

DeMarcus Cousins was left in the Kings locker room for the second half of the team’s loss to the Clippers Friday following a halftime argument with coach Keith Smart.

Smart wouldn’t get into specifics after the game, saying Cousins was benched for, “”conduct detrimental to the team and I’ll leave it at that” reports the Sacramento Bee. Smart said he would decide later on any future punishment for Cousins.

The Kings broadcast showed Cousins and Smart arguing on the bench between the first and second quarters. Apparently that spilled over into the locker room at the half.

Cousins apologized after the game, again via the Bee:

“What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room but I was wrong. But what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”

Cousins was then asked what he could do to avoid further situations where attention was on his actions off the court.

“Don’t talk back. That’s the thing. I shouldn’t have responded back. Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet.”

There are a couple of things in play here. As our own Aaron Bruski told you this week, there is friction and frustration in the Kings locker room with Smart and his rotations. And with reason, the guy is fixated on players like Aaron Brooks and doesn’t seem to be developing a team for the future.

But this is still Cousins — a guy who consistently lets his emotions of the moment get in the way of his judgment and game. A guy who holds himself back because he can’t hold himself back sometimes — like when he got suspended for going to argue with a Spurs broadcaster over something said on their broadcast. Cousins clashed with all his coaches in Sacramento now, Smart was the one that seemed to have a better relationship with him. But even that has soured.

When Cousins was part of the USA Select Team, practicing against Team USA headed off to the London Olympics, Kobe Bryant was asked about Cousins (who had a little tiff with Jerry Colangelo, head honcho of USA Basketball):

“All he has to do is continue to work, continue to keep his level head. That’s all he has to do. That’s all he has to do…” Kobe said. “He gets in trouble when he starts letting his emotions get the best of him, now people start talking about that as opposed to his game.”

And we are right back there again.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.