Can Cousins and his fiery coach coexist?
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
When Michael Malone and DeMarcus Cousins had a warm embrace at Las Vegas summer league, the new Sacramento Kings coach and his centerpiece center hamming it up at the end of the team’s bench for all to see, anyone who was aware of the tension-filled context took notice.
It was the sort of moment they can only hope to still be having by the time the regular season rolls around.
While the Kings’ recent sale, front-office makeover and coaching change mean there’s a clean slate for all involved, Cousins’ situation looms large as they attempt to forge a new future. After three seasons in which the mercurial big man has shown an ability to both dominate the opponent and destroy his own team’s chemistry as the Kings has gone a combined 74-156, he wants a maximum contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline, or else.
Or else what, exactly, remains to be seen. The standard power play script in the NBA would seem to suggest a possible trade demand on the horizon, but the mere threat of Cousins being unhappy because of his contract, or to have the powerful leverage that inherently comes with being a max player, is more than enough for the Kings to consider the pros and cons of their options. He is, by almost all accounts, a player who will be given a max deal by someone by the time his rookie contract expires next summer.
The thinking from Cousins’ camp is that there’s no risk in resolving this issue now as opposed to later because his market value, as they see it, has already been set and the wrong message will be sent by making him wait for restricted free agency next summer. If the situation goes south for Cousins and the Kings in Sacramento, in their view, there will be no shortage of suitors to whom they could trade him. The Kings, meanwhile, are well aware that they have plenty of time to deliberate the decision but continue to send signs that they’re willing to gamble on the big man for the long term sooner rather than … [For more on Can DeMarcus Cousins and his fiery coach coexist?, click here.]