- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Towards the end of another crushing season, these last few days should have acted as a respite of sorts for Sacramento Kings fans.
The team came through with an impressive win over a tough Charlotte Hornets team on Friday, prior to a one-sided beat down of a reeling Washington Wizards club on Sunday evening. A game against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers and a chance at a three-game winning streak awaits on Monday evening.
The 23-point win over Washington allowed Kings center DeMarcus Cousins to play the third-fewest minutes he’s played all season, just under 23 in the contest, and it also allowed for Washington Post NBA scribe Michael Lee to sit down with Cousins to allow the All-Star to give his take on a season gone wrong.
“It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus,” a flustered Cousins said, when asked to describe this season. “We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year.”
Cousins is, of course, referring to the bout of viral meningitis that knocked him out for nine games after a quick start to the Kings’ season. The condition left Cousins bedridden and fearful for his life, and yet it somehow wasn’t a low point:
“I’m still wondering how in the hell did I get viral meningitis. Where did it come from?” Cousins said. “I was like, this is going to get bad. And it did get bad. And it was just downhill from there.”
The downturn Cousins is referring to came in the form of the firing of former Kings coach Michael Malone, who was hired as coach before the Kings’ 42-deep front office (more on that later) was cobbled together in 2013. The Kings started 9-5 with Malone in 2014-15, and then the team went 2-7 with Cousins sidelined. Malone’s Kings were at 11-13 when he was let go, with a wobbly DeMarcus finding his legs, a record that still ranked the Kings far ahead of the sub-mediocre mark most pegged them to pick up in 2014-15.
In a pathetic series of events, the Kings’ front office failed to notify Cousins or any other player about their coaching decision before the news hit Twitter. Then team then pointlessly committed to Corbin for the rest of 2014-15, just about ensuring that the Kings would play listlessly for a lame duck coach who was both guaranteed a job until April, and just about guaranteed not to be back following the end of 2014-15.
As we all know, the Kings then went back on that promise and fired Corbin after a 7-21 run, inspiring many to rightfully defend a guy that did a poor job with a gig he probably shouldn’t have ever acquired.
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
George Karl is a very good coach who could eventually turn into the lead man in the Kings’ possible turnaround, but his initial run with the Kings saw him leading the NBA’s worst defense over his first 15 games. While the Kings flailed on the court, more intrigue was added in the offices surrounding it, as owner Vivek Ranadive’s ham-fisted attempt to emulate the Golden State Warriors’ all-hands-on approach has fallen flat on its face so far, with Ranadive hiring coaches and making the final decision on draft choices, culminating in a damning piece from the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin in the wake of Vlade Divac’s hire as … something. Something to do with the Kings’ front office.
Again, enter Ranadive: He insisted on hiring Karl, a future Hall of Fame coach, and empowered him to begin the player auditions. He dictated hiring Divac, despite resistance from [general manager Pete] D’Alessandro and [Mullin, and crafted a position designed to capitalize on Divac’s unique abilities and background in basketball and business here and abroad.
Asked if he had concerns about the cool reception from some of his new colleagues, Divac said, “I’m here. We’ll see.”
D’Alessandro declined to discuss Divac on Monday. In a text Tuesday, he said, “Of course. We are happy to have him.”
For those that want to score from home, let’s tune into SB Nation’s Tom Ziller, for a decade our go-to-guy on all things Sacramento-y and Kings-y:
Where does Vlade fit in? The VP title leads one to assume he is D'Alessandro's new boss. So the front office now features not just a general manager (D'Alessandro), an assistant GM (Mike Bratz) and a rather high-profile director of player personnel and analytics (Dean Oliver), but also an adviser to the chairman who used to be a GM (Mullin), a special assistant to the GM (Mitch Richmond) and a VP of basketball and franchise operations (Divac). Plus a coach (Karl) who has always wanted to be involved in personnel issues. And all of these guys serve at the behest of a controlling partner (Ranadive) who has hired two coaches and chosen one draft pick (Nik Stauskas) himself.
George Karl, as Ziller notes, has clashed with personnel bosses at each and every one of his NBA stops save for one – his last weeks in Denver, when the franchise and coach decided to part ways before the inevitable clash happened.
Including Bratz, an NBA lifer, and the much-respected Dean Oliver, the Kings would then seem to have seven strong hands on deck, including two former Kings legends in Divac and Richmond all working in front of the cameras. All of this under an owner in Vivek Ranadive that seems to think he knows more than the lot of them combined.
And none of them are the most famous name in the room, and for good reason.
“I felt like a line was crossed and I was trying to figure out how I’m going to deal with it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in Sacramento,” Cousins said. “And not to sound arrogant, but what’s bigger than my name in Sacramento? It could be a damn forest fire in Sacramento, my name will come up. ‘It was near DeMarcus Cousins’s house!’ ”
He’s not wrong.
DeMarcus Cousins is spot on, in every regard. And it starts from the very top.
- - - - - - -