Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl's apparent efforts to send All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins packing, as reported by Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, sent the NBA world into something of a tailspin on Tuesday. League chatter abruptly turned from Thursday's 2015 NBA draft to all manner of Boogie Nights/Run DMC talk, including:
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• Very specifc emoji choices;
• The storied history of NBA players making "snake in the grass" references to Karl;
• Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé saying the team has "zero interest" in trading Cousins and that he's "deferring to Vlade on everything";
• New Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac insisting that both Cousins and Karl are sticking around;
• Karl disputing the trade-push reports while also saying he wants Cousins to come to camp "committed" and declining to say he doesn't want Boogie traded;
• Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reporting that, despite Karl's protestations, he's had more sources confirm that the coach was working the phones on a potential Cousins deal;
• Ailene Voisin of the Bee writing that, while Karl's the one pushing for a trade, Cousins is the one who has to stop holding the Kings hostage; and
• Multiple reports that Karl's endgame in a move away from Cousins might be to get "the band back together" from his latter days with the Denver Nuggets by importing the likes of Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler.
Whew. That's quite a lot of crazy.
No wonder Cousins is looking to just get away and put this latest round of vintage Sacramento instability and insanity him with the soothing sounds of Mr. Marley and a nice relaxing meal by the beach:
But even doing something as simple as sharing a "good vibes" shot from the sand, Cousins can't quite escape the battle for his basketball soul. The eagle-eyed Jay King of MassLive.com caught a noteworthy item in the comments of Boogie's Instagram post:
Why, yes, that does appear to be Isaiah Thomas — Cousins' former teammate with the Kings, who is now a member of the Boston Celtics — suggesting that if Sacramento no longer wants the big man, he might know a team that does. In what we're sure is a completely unrelated story, the Celtics have a boatload of young players on movable contracts and draft picks by the bushel, including a pair of first-round choices in Thursday's draft, and have a glaring need for a primary scoring option and a defensive anchor on the interior. Huh. Weird concidence.
The hulking center and pint-sized point guard were fast friends early in their time together in Sacramento, but reports later circulated that Cousins and Thomas didn't always see eye-to-eye on the way the Kings' offense ran when they shared the floor, especially when the triggerman took too long to pull the trigger on a pass. Remember, if you will, this Cousins comment from early this season, after Thomas left for the Phoenix Suns in restricted free agency, leaving Darren Collison to run the point in Sacramento:
DMC on PG changes: "it’s been incredible. It’s been a smooth transition. The ball is moving a lot better. It’s not stuck in one place ...
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) October 1, 2014
DMC continued: "...It’s not being overdribbled by anybody on the floor".
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) October 1, 2014
... and Thomas' post-departure remarks about the lack of communication leading up to his decision to sign with Phoenix, per Blake Ellington of Sactown Royalty:
During the free agency period, did you talk to DeMarcus [Cousins] and Rudy [Gay] much?
I didn't. I didn't actually talk to nobody.
Just went silent?
They didn't reach out to me. They only reached out when I signed my deal so I mean I had a feeling, I kind of knew I wasn't coming back. Other than coming back for Mike Malone, I didn't think nobody really wanted me, like they wanted Darren Collison. Not like that, but I mean, they picked Darren Collison the second day of free agency. He's a good player; I hope the best for him and the Sacramento Kings, honestly.
... and Thomas' response to Cousins' "the ball isn't sticking anymore" remark in an interview with Grantland's Zach Lowe:
It definitely is a jab at me. I see it, and I use it as motivation. I don’t think too much of it, because I definitely wasn’t the problem there. But I do see the shots thrown at me. I wish the people throwing the shots would say my name, but they don’t want to. I just go about my business and worry about what I’ve got to do with the Phoenix Suns. [...]
Bottom line: If DeMarcus tells the Kings he wants you back, do you think you’re a King now?
I mean, he’s the franchise player, so, I think anything he says, they’d probably take into high consideration. So … I guess.
It's possible, of course, that those issues were all strictly about the specific situation on the court in Sacramento at that time, and have no bearing on the personal relationship between the two players. For whatever it's worth, they have interacted a couple of times recently prior to Thomas' Instagram comment, with Thomas thanking Cousins for sending him a signed jersey and Cousins directing his Instagram followers to follow Thomas' newly established account.
That might mean something and it might mean nothing, but it does seem like the Celtics, like several other teams with a war chest of draft picks and young players, have real interest in pursuing the high-scoring, board-crashing, playmaking big man. (Teams without such war chests, like Phil Jackson's New York Knicks, probably need not apply.) ESPN.com's Marc Stein suggested it as a viable possibility back in May. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, one of the game's preeminent wheelers and dealers, has reportedly already tried to land Cousins and intends to continue doing so despite the Kings' repeated refusals.
Whether Ranadivé, Divac and company eventually relent, assent to Karl's reported wishes and give Ainge another crack at wowing them with a Godfather offer remains to be seen. For now, we'll have to content ourselves with the continued operation of Sacramento's inimitable circus and the knowledge that, when it comes to doing it for the Green, IT2's evidently willing to do it for the 'gram.
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