NBA AM: Cousins Gets Paid, But Can He Lead?
According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Kings have reached an agreement with center DeMarcus Cousins on a four-year contract extension worth $62 million. Cousins, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, would have been set to enter the free agency market next summer if a deal wasn’t reached by October 31.
Now, Cousins joins Washington Wizards guard John Wall and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George as other members of the 2010 draft class who signed extensions during the offseason.
The Cousins deal puts an exclamation point on the King’s offseason which saw the franchise draft guard Ben McLemore in the lottery, acquire emerging point guard Greivis Vasquez via trade and sign forward Carl Landry in free agency. The club also hired a new head coach in Mike Malone and general manager Pete D’Alessandro.
D’Alessandro has talked confidently about changing the culture in Sacramento since joining the team’s front office and believes the team is making significant strides turning the corner.
“It’s been really positive,” D’Alessandro told HOOPSWORLD earlier this past summer. “We’re all excited. We’re young, we’re new and trying to jump in this thing and trying to change it around. Who wouldn’t embrace this something like this? For us we feel that way. We’re doing everything we can to change environment.”
D’Alessandro also believes bringing in guys like Vasquez, Landry and Luc Mbah a Moute provides much more respectability in the Kings’ lineup.
“To me they’re guys other players hate to play against”, D’Alessandro said on the team’s acquisitions. “People say culture, I just think it creates an attitude on our team. An attitude that we want. That our coach wants. So they’re very big pieces of what we’re trying to do here.”
But most of the Kings’ trajectory, this season and beyond, is tied to the development (and maturation) of Cousins. The former University of Kentucky standout has been in numerous confrontations with team personnel and teammates since entering the league, but the hope is that those things are now in the rearview mirror.
Cousins averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season. While Cousins’ scoring and rebounding numbers were down from the previous campaign, the young center shot a career-best 47 percent from the field.
The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2006 campaign and have compiled a 74-156 (.321) record since Cousins entered the league in 2010-11.
Sixers’ Evan Turner Will Have Chance To Shine: Philadelphia 76ers forward Evan Turner was the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. But unlike Wizards guard John Wall, Pacers forward Paul George and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins an early extension deal is unlikely to be offered to him.
If not, the team could opt to issue a qualifying offer at the end of the season which would make the forward a restricted free agent next summer. The team would then have the ability to match any offer for Turner’s services received at that point, essentially letting the market set the forward’s value.
Simply put this is a contract year for Turner and with the team’s decision to massively rebuild an opportunity for the veteran to emerge is clearly in place.
Sixers new head coach Brett Brown believes Turner has the tools to be successful at the pro level, but also says the forward
“He has a lot of areas where he really can blossom,” Brown told Keith Pompey of The Inquirer. “He is a talent. And I think the weight on the city at times and the expectations, like they would anybody, can drown you if you let it.”
Brown believes the pressure of living up to the expectations set by fans could have been impacting Turner’s game the past three seasons.
“He has a lot of areas where he really can blossom,” Brown said. “He is a talent. And I think the weight on the city at times and the expectations, like they would anybody, can drown you if you let it.”
Like so many of today’s athletes Turner is a registered user on Twitter. The site contains a wealth of information but also is an outlet for fans to reach out directly to players – and in some the dialogue can be negative.
“And I hope he’s not caring about what goes on on Twitter,” Brown said. “Now that sounds a lot easier than it is to achieve. But it starts with the knowledge that you are putting in the time. You get a new toy to play with. And you are being allowed with that in a new place in the house.”
The Sixers finished last season 34-48 and missed the playoffs after coming up one game shy of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012. Turner averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in 82 games last season. He is the team’s second returning leading scorer, behind forward Thaddeus Young.