The Sacramento Kings have re-made their franchise, creating a wonderful scene in their home opener behind new owner Vivek Ranadive with a new front office and coaching staff in tow. The team may not make the playoffs in 2013-14, but it can be assured a permanent place in the city of Sacramento, something that wasn’t the case in years before as the much-loathed Maloof brothers dangled the team to the highest bidder, regardless of location.
Some holdovers remain from that era, but none more prominent than Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins signed a massive contract extension in late September, securing the oft-criticized center through his mid-20s. Because of the team’s newfound permanence, Cousins talked up the Kings’ new outlook in a long interview with Sean Cunningham at Sacramento’s News10:
"Honestly, I feel like I've wasted time," Cousins told News10 during a lengthy sit-down interview just before the first game of the 2013-14 NBA season. "I mean, I hate the fact that it took everything that we went through to get to this, but I guess you can say, it makes it that much better."
Cousins agreed with one player's assessment of last season, who said it felt like the Kings weren't really in the NBA.
"That is so true, we felt like an AAU team," Cousins said. AAU stands for Amateur Athletic Union, which is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the United States.
NBA teams and players can be put into purgatory for a number of reasons. The Los Angeles Clippers, for instance, likely felt as if they were waiting coach Vinny Del Negro’s contract out over the last two seasons, despite playoff appearances. And teams like the Suns, 76ers and Magic probably also feel like they’re just twiddling thumbs in 2013-14, waiting out the rebuilding process.
The Kings were never really rebuilding, they were just waiting out the decision on where they would end up playing, alongside the disastrous regime of former general manager Geoff Petrie. Petrie did fantastic work in the early days of running the franchise, but he had a miserable last few years in Sacramento – topped off by somehow getting older, worse and more expensive as the team weirdly chased down Jimmer Fredette (since un-committed to) in the 2011 draft, and dealing forward Thomas Robinson midway through the lottery selection’s rookie year.
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Cousins, selected by Petrie in 2010, is sticking. And while we’ve had issues with Cousins’ work in the past – understand that we’ve had issues with his actual “work,” and not his run-ins with former coach Paul Westphal, or other members of the team. It must have been pretty tough to be DeMarcus Cousins during those first three years, we understand that.
The defense and shot selection, that’s the issue. Cousins remains a poor pick and roll defender whose head is often turned, and he takes too many low percentage shots for my liking. DeMarcus genuinely seems like a good dude, witness this act of charity, but his actual on-court work truly has to pick up if he’s going to be the buttress that acts as a playoff foundation.
So far, at least in talking with Cunningham (this is a very good, must-read interview), he’s saying all the right things. 2010 through 2013 was a bit of a waste, and now it’s time to cash in on all that potential. On the court.
And time to stop renting, and start buying.
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