Shaq plans to mentor DeMarcus Cousins
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
So now that new Sacramento Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal has taken on the task of mentoring DeMarcus Cousins, that has to be a sign that a contract extension is coming for the mercurial 23-year-old center, right?
“I don’t want to say anything premature, but I’ve been constant in my support for DeMarcus,” new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told USA TODAY Sports. “I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They’re out there practicing on their own every day, and he’s out there leading those practices. He’s out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. They all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that’s ever happened. So (Shaquille) O’Neal and I are going to have dinner with him on Monday night, and Dr. O’Neal is going to spend a couple of days with him and the team. So I’m very, very pleased with everything that I’m seeing.”
As O’Neal begins his unexpected tenure with his former rival team, he has one goal on top of his to-do list: to make Cousins the most feared big man in the game. Neither Ranadive or O’Neal was willing to offer clarity on the extension that can be agreed upon up to the Oct. 31 deadline, but it continues to be clear that Cousins is a major priority for the new regime that took over after Ranadive and his group bought the team for a league-record $535 million valuation in late May. If an extension is not agreed upon, Cousins would become a restricted free agent next summer and – if only because his long-term future would appear uncertain – likely spend much of this season as the topic of trade rumors.
O’Neal, however, plans on leaving the business to Ranadive while focusing on the basketball.
“You hear people say all the time that he’s probably the most talented big man in the league, so now if you’ve got that behind your name, then everything else must follow,” O’Neal told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m going to teach him a few … [For more on Shaq plans to mentor Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins, click here.]