With 19 seconds left and the Kings up five points on the Warriors Tuesday night, Golden State’s Reggie Williams went to the free throw line and missed the first of two pretty badly off the front rim.
DeMarcus Cousins did a little taunting, walking out into the lane and making the choking gesture.
That offended Kings coach Paul Westphal. Well, offended him later after Westphal didn’t need Cousins as he played the entire overtime.
But on Wednesday Westphal announced that Cousins would be “fined and benched” by the team, and he would not return to the starting lineup until he shows he knows how to be more professional, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
Cousin’s response is that he didn’t think he would have been punished if the Kings had won.
First, note to DeMarcus — do not taunt the basketball gods like that. Karma is real. Hence the OT loss.
This was not the most mature act, and Cousins has had a few of those, but Westphal continues to completely mismanage Cousins.
The rookie plays with a lot of emotion and passion — on the worst team in the league he is the one guy who clearly busts it to win on the court every night. He has learned lessons — including the ones about arguing with coaches in practice — and lately has been playing better. He is making better decisions in the offense (fewer jumpers) and figuring out how better to play defense on the NBA level, how to really protect the rim.
But he is emotional. He gets down on himself (watch his body language) and alternates to a crazy confidence.
What the Kings need to do is to teach Cousins how to channel that passion, instead Westphal treats him like a disobedient puppy. This action by Cousins is immature but minor. The overreaction by the organization is more likely to sap his passion for the game and make him not listen to the coaches. And this is a team that needs Cousins.
As Tom Ziller said at Sactown Royalty — Cousins action was not 1/1,000th the embarrassment to the Kings that the team’s play has been this season. And that play on both ends of the floor reflects on Westphal.
This fine and benching is all public relations, about team image. Fine Cousins if you must, but the benching is silly because you are hurting the product on the court for perception. But a lot of things about the Kings right now are silly.