While the Sacramento Kings played in Phoenix on Sunday, rookie center DeMarcus Cousins(notes) remained in California waiting to learn his fate after he was involved in a postgame altercation with a teammate the previous night.
Cousins started the altercation with Kings forward Donte Greene(notes) in the team’s locker room because he was upset Greene passed the ball to point guard Tyreke Evans(notes) instead of Cousins for the final shot in a 99-97 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night, league sources said. AOL FanHouse first reported the incident.
After Cousins boarded the Kings’ plane for their scheduled flight to Phoenix late Saturday, coach Paul Westphal told the 20-year-old center he would not be accompanying the team, per orders from general manager Geoff Petrie. Cousins was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game, but has yet to be officially suspended because Kings officials are still reviewing the situation. A source close to Cousins said the rookie wouldn’t comment on the incident.
Petrie returned to Sacramento from a college scouting trip around 5 p.m. ET, and planned to further investigate the specifics of the fight. His review is expected to continue into Monday, when any possible punishment could be announced. It’s uncertain whether Cousins will meet with Petrie or speak to him over the phone.
Cousins and Greene argued over the last play of Saturday’s game before Cousins initiated the skirmish, which was broken up by teammates, one source said. Greene left the locker room composed and didn’t appear to have any physical marks from the fight as he talked with the brother of Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) and other friends before departing the arena, a source said. Greene was allowed to travel to Phoenix based on Petrie’s initial review of the incident, sources said.
After Westphal relayed Petrie’s orders, Cousins departed the plane. Kings guard Francisco Garcia(notes) was upset that Cousins had been sent home, one source said. Garcia had Cousins meet with him at the Kings’ practice facility on Thursday for a long talk about the rookie’s professionalism and how he can better live up to his potential to be one of the team’s top offensive options.
While Cousins’ teammates get along well with him and hang out with him away from the court, they’re often frustrated by his moodiness and immaturity when things aren’t going his way, a source said. Some of Cousins’ frustration, however, stems from his belief that some of his teammates aren’t punished or criticized as hard as he is when they make mistakes, another source said.
Concerns about Cousins’ maturity and character helped drop him to the fifth pick in last year’s draft. The Kings even hired Cousins’ former high school coach to help ease his transition to the NBA, but that hasn’t stopped the young center from being involved in a handful of incidents that have helped validate those worries.
Cousins and Kings assistant coach Truck Robinson had a heated exchanged during a preseason practice. Cousins was fined $5,000 by the Kings in October after responding to some trash talking from strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro by saying he was going to hurt him, a source said. Cousins was also kicked out of practice Nov. 29 after a heated debate with Westphal and then temporarily lost his starting job after making a choking gesture to Golden State Warriors guard Reggie Williams(notes) during a Dec. 21 game.
Prior to Saturday’s incident, Cousins’ behavior and play had both improved since late December. He’s averaged 17.3 points and nine rebounds in his past 22 games and was selected to play in the rookie game during All-Star weekend.
Kings owner Gavin Maloof told Yahoo! Sports in December the team would not trade Cousins.
“I like to win, and if we don’t, I’m mad about it,” Cousins told Yahoo! Sports in late December. When also asked if he wished he’d handled some of the incidents better, Cousins said, “No, because every mistake I made was a positive mistake I made. I learned from it. It made me a better person.”