DeMarcus Cousins keeps his eye on the sky (Getty Images)
The NBA is in the midst of the final day of the 2012-13 season, a Game 7 that determines the champion of this particular run while defining the narrative to this nine month term along the way. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers are attempting to work out a way to essentially trade a head coach and first ballot Basketball Hall of Famer from one team to another, no big deal. And yet the biggest noise outside of those two plate-shifting events is coming from a dude who isn’t saying much of anything at all.
Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins is under contract for next season, but he’s also eligible to receive a contract extension from the Kings this summer or fall. On the heels of three maddening seasons with the team that drafted him, Cousins is banking on his potential and the team’s hoped-for rebirth under a new owner, general manager and coach will lead the team to ignoring his past and signing Cousins to a maximum contract. Because this appears to be such an outrageous expectation on the surface, Cousins’ high powered agent Dan Fegan has instructed his client to say nary a word about the Kings, despite the chaotic few months that has resulted in a complete and total regime change in Sacramento.
So how does Cousins feel about the Kings' new regime?
There was a pause, followed by a "no comment" and a chuckle from the 22-year-old center, who's entering his fourth season in the NBA.
The smile on his face and the rolling of his eyes showed how hard it is for Cousins to play the silent role. But he has to.
His agent, Dan Fegan, has instructed Cousins not to speak on anything relating to the Kings team, management or ownership.
It bears relaying that Cousins was far from a surly sort during this interview. He was giddy in his references to being asked to participate in the Team USA minicamp later this summer, calling the invite “a huge honor,” and effusive in talking up the basketball camp he’s put together for children ages 7-15; with well over half the participants there on a free ride, because Cousins didn’t want any potential campers left out because of the $149 fee.
Still, that’s distracting from the point that pertains to NBA basketball, on its biggest day of the year. Is DeMarcus Cousins a max player?
In a vacuum, certainly. He is a big man with skills who combined to average 17.5 points and 10.4 rebounds over the last two years, and big men with skills are usually paid in abundance merely because of their exclusive gifts.
As a watcher, though, Cousins seems like a huge risk. He led the NBA in personal fouls during his first and second seasons, he constantly complains about calls and has been suspended myriad times for infractions that were either wholly or partially deserved. He takes terrible shots both around the rim and from the outside – Sacramento’s last game of the season was infamously skunked by an out of place Cousins three-pointer, a shot he’s attempted 54 times over the last three years despite making just nine.
He defense is awful. His attitude, on the court over his first three seasons at least, is lacking. And his agent is Dan Fegan, who tends to get what he wants.
There’s that hope, though. That a different coaching staff could pull more out of DMC. That a different GM (new GM Pete D’Allesandro called Cousins an “unbelievable talent” in this Sacramento Bee feature) could put together better parts around him. That the permanence of the Kings in Sacramento could drive him to accomplish better things for the crowds he’s working in front of.
Those are rookie or second year worries. The Kings, though, are faced with a decision on Cousins that has to be made this offseason.
“Fegan wants a maximum deal for his client with the threat of a trade demand looming if a deal isn't reached.”
A trade demand with a player like Cousins may seem laughable, but then again this would be a trade demand involving a player on a rookie salary, giving you double-double contributions while making less than the average salary. He’ll be coveted despite all that baggage, but few teams are going to want to send another coveted rookie salary back Sacramento’s way considering Cousins’ past.
Good thing new Kings GM Pete D’Allesandro has already shaved off all his hair.
It’s never going to be easy with DeMarcus Cousins. And even his silent streak, seemingly simplifying things, is making this situation far more complicated.
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