After draining a dramatic buzzer-beating game-winner to lift Sacramento past Phoenix, All-Star DeMarcus Cousins should have led the celebration in the Kings’ locker room. Instead, he was saying this:
“I ain’t pumped up, I just got a lot on my mind. Crazy thing about it, I just got a question for ya’ll, I just wanna know how you’re gonna stop God’s plan? How are you gonna do that? How are you gonna do that? This city put through me so much, I stayed loyal to it the whole time. God gives the hardest battles to the strongest souls. The marathon continues. I’m out.”
Those comments are both cryptic and clearly aimed at the ongoing talks by Sacramento Kings management to bring in George Karl as coach. Cousin’s camp has opposed the hiring from the start, but it appears close, with just the owner signing off on the deal left, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro was supposed to meet with Cousins and his people Sunday, but that is different from giving him veto power over the hiring of the next coach. Our own Aaron Bruski of PBT and NBC Sports adds this:
It does now fall to the owner, Vivek Ranadivé, and what direction he wants to take the team. If his dream is an up-tempo team, hiring Karl would be a good first step. Then there would need to be others because this roster is not built for that style right now.
Ranadivé also needs to weigh the costs of such a move, something Cousins was trying to bring up. I guess. Those comments were pretty cryptic.
That is a shooter’s bounce. If Stephen Curry gets that bounce, we don’t blink. But DeMarcus Cousins?
He got it and delivered the game winner that lifted the Kings past the Suns, 85-83. It’s another sign of the growth of now All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
This was a tough loss for the Suns, who have dropped 4 of 5 and are now just two games up on fast charging Oklahoma City for the eight seed and final playoff spot in the West. The Suns need wins against the teams below them in the standings (and a few against those above them) if they are going to hold on to this playoff spot.
One way or another, we will know soon whether or not George Karl will be the next coach of the Kings. According to the latest reports, GM Pete D’Alessandro still really wants to hire him, but is getting resistance from DeMarcus Cousins’ agents.
As for what Cousins’ camp’s problem is with Karl, a Saturday report from Amick in USA Today explains that he has a history with both of Cousins’ primary agents.
Karl’s personal past with a number of influential members in and around the Kings organization remains relevant as well, as he previously coached Kings advisor Chris Mullin and has history with the two agents who represent franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins as well. Cousins’ day-to-day agent, Jarrin Akana, worked with Karl in Denver and was re-assigned from assistant coach to scout when Karl took over for coach Jeff Bzdelik in 2005. Dan Fegan, Cousins’ lead agent, represented Karl’s son, Coby, as a player for years before he was eventually replaced. That circle, by all accounts, has been against the notion of adding Karl.
From the sound of it, Cousins’ camp’s resistance doesn’t have much to do with his own lack of interest in playing for Karl. It’s not clear how exactly Cousins himself feels about Karl, but we do know that he’s been extremely unhappy since they fired Mike Malone in December.
NBCSports.com’s Aaron Bruski reports that the differences within Cousins’ camp will most likely not stand in the way of hiring Karl.
Whether the Kings can patch up their differences with Cousins’ reps remains to be seen, but one way or another, we will know soon whether George Karl has Sacramento in his future.
In a move that surprises absolutely no one, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has named Damian Lillard to the Western Conference All-Star team to replace the injured Blake Griffin. Here’s the league’s press release from Sunday afternoon:
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Western Conference All-Star forward Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Lillard, who will appear in his second All-Star Game after making his debut last year, ranks 13th in the NBA in scoring (21.6 ppg) and 15th in assists (6.3 apg). He also leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring (311 points) and is sixth in three-pointers made (129), helping Portland to a Northwest Division-best 34-17 record. Lillard is joined on the West team by Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, an All-Star for the fourth consecutive season, giving Portland the same two players selected to back-to-back All-Star Games for the first time since Maurice Lucas and Bill Walton in 1977 and 1978.
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr, who earned the right to coach the West team because the Warriors had the best record in the conference through games played Feb. 1, will determine Griffin’s replacement in the starting lineup.
Lillard has been in a bit of a slump lately, but overall he’s having a terrific season and deserves to make it. He was very vocal about his disappointment at missing out last week when the reserves were announced, and again when Silver named Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins as Kobe Bryant’s injury replacement.
It is common in the NBA for a team to at least consult their franchise player when looking to make a big move, for example a coaching change.
The Kings did not do that with DeMarcus Cousins when they surprisingly fired coach Mike Malone mid-season. Sacramento has gone 6-19 since that move, and DeMarcus Cousins has shown flashes of regression to some of his old, bad habits.
This time the Kings did reach out to Cousins about the potential hiring of George Karl as the new head coach — talks that were making progress — but concerns from Cousins may have stopped that momentum. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Former Kings beat writer and now USA Today scribe Sam Amick is well connected in Sacramento and adds to the report:
That last point by Amick is important. Cousins is a more traditional center and while he’s a beast when he gets out and runs he may be concerned that his role would be diminished in a George Karl offense. Karl’s offense is more point guard centric and he likes bigs who can space the floor a little. Cousins can certainly work in and even star in that kind of offense, but it’s not necessarily built around him.
The question is: What kind of team does Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé want to build? He was starting to build a structured, defense-frist one under Malone and fired him because he wanted to go more up tempo. If that’s the case, Karl is a good fit.
The Kings need to pick one rebuilding plan, stick with it and get the players to fit it. The worst franchises are the ones that never let a system take root and change it every couple years.