Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and his coach, George Karl, had a bad relationship. Kings vice president Vlade Divac admitted as much.
You could even see the discord.
Now, you can see the harmony – which Cousins wants you to see. See it. Get a good look. Soak it up.
So we’re all good here?
If Cousins and Karl (pictured with Divac and Kings general manager Mike Bratz) can’t get along now – in the summer and removed the strain of a long regular season – when can they? If Karl helps Sacramento win, that could improve their relationship, but the Kings aren’t good enough to avoid bumps along the way.
Keep in mind, Cousins fueled the talk of a feud with Karl. Just because Cousins is now fanning flames on the other side publicly doesn’t mean everything is alright in Sacramento.
But things look better, and even if the amount of progress is questionable, progress is still positive.
DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl had an awkwardly short meeting at summer league
The Kings’ latest hire – Nancy Lieberman as assistant coach – said her summer-league interaction with Cousins went a bit better.
Lieberman, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Even when I went in the first day of practice, I’m sure a lot of these guys had no clue who I am, which is fine with me. But the next day it was, ‘Coach, I Googled you.’ ‘Coach, my dad told me who you are.’ We’re walking into the hotel after the first practice. I had not met DeMarcus (Cousins). And he held the door and I walked in, and he put his arm on my shoulder and said ‘you gonna be with us this year?’ And I said ‘I hope so. You want me to?’ And he said, ‘uh huh. Super.’ I connect to guys. I can laugh with them. I can be sarcastic with them. I have a son. I’ve been with this my whole life. What I am going to be is me…I’m consistently consistent. I’m a goofball. I’m a lifer. I’m demanding, because I demand that you be great. I demand that you be the best of who you are every day. I’ll give you reasons to show up and make the details matter. I want to inspire you, because I care. I want to pour love, kindness, passion, teaching into you every day. And I want you to know why Coach Karl has you on this team every day.
If Lieberman helps break barriers and opens doors for women in coaching, that would be fantastic.
But I think the people that pay her care a bit more about how she could help Cousins and Karl get along.
Cousins is the Kings’ best player, and he’s just 24 and signed long-term. He’s incredibly valuable – especially if he buys in.
Sacramento clearly wants to win now, and Karl has the tactical proficiency to maximize a limited roster. He won’t get far with Cousins’ support, though.
The Kings desperately need Cousins and Karl to click to avoid yet another step back. Any help Lieberman provides in that realm would be huge.
It’s an impressive resume for an NBA assistant coach: Two years as the head coach of the D-League’s Texas Legends making the playoff the second year, then becoming general manager of that team. Before that she was a two-time college champion and an Olympian as a player. That is somebody with the background to understand and coach the game.
Nancy Lieberman’s credentials should not be in question — she’s in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for a reason.
The Kings made it official, announcing that she has been hired Friday as a member of George Karl’s coaching staff in Sacramento.
Sam Amick of the USA Today got a short quote out of her on the topic.
In a late-night text message to USA TODAY Sports, Lieberman called Thursday, “a crazy, wonderful day.” For at least the past year, Lieberman had been interested in joining an NBA team as a coach and has worked at high-profile camps last summer instructing NBA players.
Lieberman becomes the second full-time female assistant coach in the NBA, behind the Spurs Becky Hammon. What’s impressive is that Lieberman was one of the real pioneers of women working in the NBA, and she helped open the door for Hammon. Now Lieberman herself is walking through that same door.
The Kings — with Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Karl coaching them — have a lot of strong-willed people in the same room. It’s potentially combustible. If Lieberman can navigate that locker room and win the players over, she will be able to do it anywhere.