Cousins Likely To Be Suspended
When the Sacramento Kings drafted DeMarcus Cousins this past summer, they knew they were adding a potentially volatile personality to their organization, and now Cousins appears headed for at least a one-game team suspension after an altercation with teammate Donte Greene following a loss to the
Mavericks Thunder Saturday night.
According to Sam Amick at Fanhouse, Cousins overtly expressed his frustration over the final play in Saturday night’s game, in which Greene inbounded the ball the Tyreke Evans, who missed a potential game-winning three. Cousins felt he had position in the post and lashed out at Greene because Cousins felt he had the better chance at making that final shot.
The end result was Cousins leaning pretty hard into Evans and Greene en route to the locker room, then, according to sources, things got even more out of hand in the locker room where Cousins and Greene started to swing at each other.
When Cousins tried boarding the team plane for a road game in Phoenix, he was promptly removed while the team decides how to best deal with the situation. Some sort of suspension is expected.
The consensus regarding Cousins heading into last June’s draft was that he was probably the second most talented player behind John Wall, but his penchant for causing issues in locker rooms and undeniable volatility forced him to slip. With the fifth pick, the Kings had almost no choice but to take him despite the advertised shortcomings, but he and Evans have had a difficult time coexisting this season.
Both players are so talented and so young that it’s unlikely the team looks to move either of them, but there’s no denying that things are starting to get out of control in Sacramento.
What Paul George Means to the Future of the Pacers
Despite the fact that Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger averages almost three times as many points per game than rookie teammate Paul George, there’s a growing sentiment that, if forced to trade one of them, Granger would be the one to go.
The reason goes beyond the fact that George is younger and quite a bit less expensive. It has to do with the fact that Pacers management feels he’s going to be the indisputable star of this team one day. While that may or may not prove to be true, in the meantime George continues to develop at pretty incredible rate.
"My progression from where I started to where I am now—even from the summer time—it’s come a long ways," George said. "I knew it would be a hard stretch, but I just want to keep going. I want to keep helping the team and build off that. I feel like things are starting to come together. I feel like I’m starting to get the pace of the game. I’m figuring out where my shot’s going to be, how to guard and defend, and how guys like to take angles. I just feel like everything is falling into place right now."
While George has averaged only 8.1ppg on the season, he has scored double figures in 8 of his last 12 games. He’s also seeing more consistent minutes in the 20-25mpg range, and with new head coach Frank Vogel helping lead the team to 7 wins in their last 8 games, both George and his Pacers appear on the up-and-up.
"It seems like the more and more I’m in the game later down the stretch my confidence just seems to explode," George said. "That’s sort of how the whole season’s been. Early on, I wasn’t all that confident, but as the season goes on I can feel myself getting better at that."
The truly wonderful thing about George, however, is his generally humble nature. Having come from a smaller college program, he’s never been one to enjoy lots of personal attention. He constantly deflects praise and instead focuses on what’s best for his team.
"That’s just how I was brought up. I like to give credit to everyone before I receive the credit, and that’s sort of how I play," he said. "I like to get my teammates going before myself. I get more happiness from making a great pass than I do for making a great shot. I want to look for the extra person and the open man because that’s just the way I’ve always played. I don’t like to get credit for doing something like that. Anything I do that gets unnoticed, it’s not a problem for me.
"I don’t need the praise," he added. "It’s not important to me. What’s the point of playing the game if you’re just playing it to be praised? You play it because it’s what you love to do, and this is what I love to do."
As for eventually being the team’s star, as some Pacers higher-ups have suggested, George predictably felt the need to remind the world that this is still Danny Granger’s team.
"Eventually, I want to get to that point, but I still feel like I’m behind, and we’ve already got a lot of great players here," he said. "Danny (Granger) is the guy who needs the ball in the last seconds for us right now, but later down the line I’d love to be that player. I’d love to be the guy my teammates trust with the ball in his hands in the final seconds."
And that may very well be what happens. In the meantime, the Pacers are enjoying consistent wins for the first time season. They look more and more like a playoff team, and Paul George looks more and more like an integral part of the team’s future.
Philly Keeps Proving Doubters Wrong
There are five teams in the Eastern Conference right now that are unquestionably perennial playoff contenders—Boston, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, and Orlando—which leaves the bottom half of the conference’s playoff picture pretty much wide open.
Surprisingly, the Philadelphia 76ers look like "the best of the rest" as they creep closer and closer to .500 with big wins this past week over the San Antonio Spurs and that 34-drubbing at Atlanta. They’ve won 9 of 12, including 4 of 5 on the road, and they’re doing it with one of the more balanced attacks in the entire league. Only the Detroit Pistons’ leading scorer (Rodney Stuckey) averages fewer points per game than Philadelphia’s (Elton Brand), and the Sixers have five guys putting up double figures in the scoring column every night, with a sixth (Jodie Meeks at 9.7ppg) just a shade away.
Doug Collins has his young team playing hard, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and the result has been wins against teams they probably have no business beating. Casual fans would probably still assume that this team is bad, but they simply are not.
Jrue Holiday has really blossomed into a wonderful young point guard, Brand is playing his best basketball in a few years, and Andre Iguodala has settled into a nice, well-balanced role himself. There doesn’t seem to be any ego on this team, which works for a Doug Collins system, and the result of that is more consistent winning than the franchise has seen since Allen Iverson was in his prime.
While they aren’t going to win any championships the next couple of years, they are a lot better than anybody expected, and if the chemistry and work ethic stay this good, they’re only going to get better.
- Kevin Love’s double-double on Saturday night was his 40th straight. That doesn’t come anywhere near breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 227 straight, but it does push him closer to 2nd place, which is held by Moses Malone (44).
- Of the eight games played in the NBA on Saturday night, not a single home team won. That’s never happened before. There was a seven-game road team sweep once upon a time, but never eight.
- Joakim Noah has pegged February 23rd as his return date for the Chicago Bulls. The pins are out, the cast is off, and he’s been able to practice for a couple weeks now. There’s still some tape on his hand, but he’s getting closer. He should be good to go after the All-Star break.
- Dallas’s Roddy Beaubois hopes to make his season debut this Wednesday against the Kings. He’s working on getting his conditioning right, and as long as practice goes well the first half of this week, he’ll be in uniform by hump day.