LAS VEGAS — Out of the NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings first picked up Georgios Papagiannis (via trade), a big, play-in-the-paint center out of Greece. Which turned heads because this is a team that already had DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein in the paint. Clearly Papagiannis was on top of the Kings’ draft board at the time, but for the record still available were Denzel Valentine, Henry Ellenson, and Wade Baldwin. (Valentine and Baldwin showed out well at Summer League; Papagiannis looked like a guy who needed work averaging 5.2 points a game on 35.7 percent shooting, plus pulling down 4.8 rebounds a night, in more than 20 minutes a game.)
That led to this tweet from Cousins (who later said it was about his hot sculpting yoga class).
How does Cousins feel now about the Kings’ offseason?
“I don’t really understand what’s going on. I just control what I can control; I let them do their jobs,” Cousins said as USA Basketball opened up training camp in Las Vegas Monday.
He reiterated other statements along the same lines of “just doing his job.” It wasn’t a ringing endorsement of the front office.
With Team USA, Cousins played with what appeared to be the starting five in scrimmages — Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Cousins. He looked like he’d dropped weight and was moving well in what will be an up-tempo, high-pressure system that USA Basketball likes to run.
In Sacramento, the Kings went on to make some solid, if unspectacular, moves in free agency. They added veterans Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, and Anthony Tolliver. Later in the draft, they picked up Skal Labissiere, who in Summer League showed promise as a potential four to play next to Cousins, one who can stretch the floor and be a better fit than Cauley-Stein (eventually, Labissiere has a lot of developing to do). They traded for rookie Malachi Richardson, who showed promise in Summer League (and defended well). The Kings also let Rajon Rondo go without a fight and will turn the point guard duties over to Darren Collison, who is an upgrade at the spot.
Mostly, the Kings are counting on new coach Dave Joerger to fit all these pieces together in a way that has the Kings defending well and fighting for a playoff spot as they open their new building. We’ll see about that. I think most people are still on board with Cousins — we don’t really understand what is going on in Sacramento.