DeMarcus Cousins slipped on his first step toward forming one of the NBA’s truly great big man tandems alongside Anthony Davis, losing to the Houston Rockets by 30 in his Pelicans debut, but he’s still “all in” on New Orleans as a longterm option and very much not all in on the Sacramento Kings.
In a candid interview with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears after Thursday’s loss, Cousins called the trade “a coward move” by Kings general manager Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive, who went back on their word after publicly and privately stating their intentions to keep him in Sacramento.
When did the Kings tell you that you wouldn’t be traded?
A week before the trade. The sick part about it is that Vlade came in my house with my agent [Jarinn Akana]. We sat in my theater and just talked. That was maybe three weeks ago. We sat there and [he] told me what moves he wanted to make. All of that. I just didn’t understand.
I got a text from the owner right before I went to All-Star. He was asking me about a player, how I felt about him and making a move. The owner! When it happened, I was just in shock. I didn’t understand.
What would have been the correct way for the Kings to tell you about the trade?
Like a man. Like a professional. The more those guys talk, the more things come out. It’s just crazy. This ain’t something that happened in a few days. It has been discussed with more than one team. I just don’t understand.
Looking back, do you think that if you had done something differently you would not have been traded?
No. No. I still don’t know the reason. … I don’t know. I don’t know.
Is there any part of you that wants to talk to Ranadive or Divac?
Nah. For what? It was a coward move, so I’m pretty sure I will get a coward response. For what? And I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve been there through all same types. … I was there with [coach] Mike Malone’s [firing]. I’ve seen how they operate. I know what kind of answer I will get anyway. So, what is the point?
This wasn’t much different from Cousins lamenting “the dishonesty” of the Kings front office during his introductory press conference in New Orleans and telling reporters he declined Divac’s phone calls after the trade, but still — a three-time All-Star calling his former GM and owner cowardly isn’t the customary “NBA is a business” response we’re used to from players freshly dealt to a better situation.
Make no mistake, Cousins knows there’s a brighter future in New Orleans. In his conversation with Spears, he explained his emotional farewell to Sacramento, saying his relationship to the city was “bigger than basketball” and his dedication to the Kings was rooted in a sense of loyalty his mother instilled at a young age. At the same time, he expressed excitement about playing for the Pelicans.
Before the trade, Cousins made it clear he intended to sign a lucrative longterm extension to stay in Sacramento. Asked if that was still the case now that he’s in New Orleans, he reiterated what he said at his introductory press conference, telling Spears, “I’m all in. I’m not here to B.S. or waste time. I’m here to win. Whatever the system is, I’m dialed in. I’m all in. I’m not here to waste time. I’m not.”
That should be some comfort to folks who might fear Cousins could leave as a free agent in 2018. But Cousins knows better than anyone that no matter what he says, things can change in negotiations:
Will it be hard for you to trust a general manager or owner again?
I’ve always had that issue. I’ve had personal conversations with my agent about that and the whole situation anyway. He tried to steer me in their direction. And I’m like, ‘Nah, I can see through that s***.’ I’ve always had my doubts. When it comes to that, I’m usually 90 percent. I knew it. But it was just told to me [no trade] so much.
Cousins is correctly distrustful of the Kings for how the trade went down, but he doesn’t seem to be fully accepting why it happened. There were a litany of reasons — the incessant technicals, the in-fighting, the clashes with reporters and the six-plus years of losing, to name a few — Sacramento called it quits on Cousins, and to completely chalk the breakup to cowardice and “the dishonesty and all that s*** with the organization” is to run the risk of repeating the same mistakes in New Orleans.
Relationships are funny that way. It’s never your fault. Just ask Vlade Divac. So, when Cousins says, “I’m not here to B.S. or waste time. I’m here to win,” the Pelicans hope they can take him at his word, too.
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