Despite a breakthrough year in which he garnered some All-Star consideration, Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has maintained his reputation as a malcontent and immature presence. That take has always been a little misguided and self-perpetuating, to the point where it sometimes seems like his detractors are just waiting to blow any mistake out of proportion. But Cousins also plays into it, of course, often by doing something silly and out of control on the court.
On Tuesday, Cousins engaged in his latest bit of questionable behavior. In the third quarter of the Kings' blowout loss to the Houston Rockets, he was called for a foul on a Dwight Howard dunk attempt and protested the call. That reaction escalated during a subsequent timeout, with Cousins interrupting a discussion between head coach Michael Malone and referee Courtney Kirkland by yelling at the official. He was then ejected.
But Cousins did some other stuff in the game, too. On Thursday, the NBA announced that Cousins has been suspended and fined for his actions in the Rockets game. But the suspension is not for his outburst at Kirkland. From the offical press release:
Cousins has been suspended for punching Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter of the Kings’ 129-103 loss to the Houston Rockets on Feb. 25, at Sleep Train Arena.
In addition, Cousins has been fined for verbally abusing a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection with8:21 remaining in the third quarter of the same game.
Cousins will serve his suspension on Friday, Feb. 28, when the Kings visit the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
You can watch the punch below:
While the punch was not punished during the game, you can see why it earned the attention of the league. At the same time, the act might not have deserved a suspension on its own. Although "punch" is probably the best word for the strike, Cousins doesn't exactly take a full swing at Beverley — he hits him as the Rockets guard cuts through the lane. It's not a light blow, but players have avoided ejections for less.
However, the punishment does not suggest that Cousins earned the suspension for his reputation rather than the weight of his actions. Given that the punch was not assessed a punishment in the moment and that he was eventually ejected when the game was already decided, the suspension feels like a worthy reaction to the sum of Cousins's poor decisions in the full game. The NBA explained the suspension and fine as separate punishments for separate incidents, but it's hard to take them as such when the announcements came at the same time.
So, as long as we look at the suspension and fine as two parts of the same decision, this punishment looks to fit the crime. Cousins often gets treated as a problem child even when he acts perfectly reasonably, but in this case it looks like he's being handled correctly.
- - - - - - -