Kings hope to build around DeMarcus Cousins

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo! Sports

Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro, coach Michael Malone and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman – a friend of new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive – visited center DeMarcus Cousins in his hometown of Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday to let Cousins know they consider him a cornerstone of the franchise's future, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

"DeMarcus is a really talented player and we look forward to him being a major part of this team," said D'Alessandro, who would not confirm the meeting took place. "We want him to get better as a player and help him get there. That's our mission. We love him in this role. I'm sure he's excited about it."

The Kings' session with Cousins came one day before the franchise agreed to send free agent Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans in a sign-and-trade deal. The Kings declined to match the four-year, $44 million offer the Pelicans made to Evans.

As part of the sign-and-trade agreement, Sacramento gets guard Greivis Vasquez from the Pelicans and a second-round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers.

Cousins is eligible for a contract extension with the Kings before the 2013-14 season begins. He will be a restricted free agent after the season if he doesn't reach agreement on an extension with the Kings.

Cousins is open to signing a long-term deal with the Kings, one source close to him said.

Cousins averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds for the Kings last season. No one doubts his offensive skills, but he's also had several run-ins with former Kings coaches, teammates, other team personnel and media.

D'Alessandro, who was hired by the Kings on June 16, said he thinks Cousins can have a positive future in Sacramento.

"He's a remarkable talent," D'Alessandro said. "He's a dominant player. There are very few dominant bigs. I look forward to our relationship growing, with myself, the new owners and the coaching staff. We have to support him to get to where he can."

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