DeMarcus Cousins is the face of the Kings franchise, and is talented enough to be exactly that.
His attitude is another matter entirely, though it seemed to be in check under then-head coach Mike Malone as the team began the season by getting out to a better-than-expected 9-6 start.
But then, the wheels began to come off.
Cousins was forced to miss 10 games after being hospitalized with a viral infection, and when Sacramento dropped seven of nine in his absence, the organization used the slide as an excuse to fire Malone, when really, the coaching decision was more about the style of play than anything else.
There was the interim Tyrone Corbin coaching experience, which didn’t last long even though the Kings had signed him to a deal for the remainder of the season. George Karl has been installed presumably for the foreseeable future, but the Kings have slipped to the bottom of the league in terms of defense, while Karl predictably cranked up the offense to give ownership the faster pace it desired.
That’s a lot to deal with, and Cousins admits it hasn’t always been easy.
“It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus,” a flustered Cousins said, when asked to describe this season. “We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year.” …
“I think I carry more weight than the average player,” Cousins said. “Coming in, I never was in a great situation — coming at such a young age, not really understanding the business. I came in, franchise that’s been doing bad for a long time, I came with my own baggage, some earned, some given to me or whatever.” …
“I care; I really care,” he said. “I take my job serious. I love to play the game. It ain’t about the money, not about the fame. I care. The biggest thing I can admit is I’m not perfect and I know that.”
Cousins is right that he hasn’t been perfect this season — he was caught pouting on a defensive possession where he allowed his man to score by standing completely still, and has lashed out at opposing players in frustration, just as he has in seasons past.
But this is more about a Kings organization that continues to make dysfunctional decisions than it is on Cousins to singlehandedly attempt to turn things around.