DeMarcus Cousins' outburst at a reporter puts the Kings in yet another bind

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4720/" data-ylk="slk:DeMarcus Cousins">DeMarcus Cousins</a> and teammates. (Getty Images)
DeMarcus Cousins and teammates. (Getty Images)

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is, once again, in a bit of hot water due to his temper. The Kings All-Star, who leads the NBA in technical foul whistles this season, was caught on camera unloading on a Sacramento Bee columnist that included mentions of Cousins’ brother in a recent, heavily critical, piece about the Kings big man and the legal woes that will follow him in the wake of a scuffle at a New York City-area nightclub.

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In a recent column, Bee writer Andy Furillo mentioned Cousins’ brother Jaleel and another confrontation involving DeMarcus in a less-publicized incident at a bar in Tampa last spring. The addition of a member of Cousins’ family apparently pushed the center over the edge. On Monday, three days after Furillo’s column was published, Cousins confronted the writer in the Kings’ locker room:

From a retelling via Joyce Terhaar, executive editor and senior vice president at the Bee:

Monday was the first time Furillo saw Cousins after the column published. The altercation started with a glare from Cousins, and quickly escalated as the player closed in on Furillo, shouting “We’re going to have some real f—ing issues. Don’t ever mention my brother again.” He continued his profane tirade, as teammate Garrett Temple got between the two and kept his arm around Cousins’ middle, and Kings spokesman Chris Clark motioned to Cousins to stop.

Furillo held his ground. That’s no small thing given Cousins’ strength and size. It likely helped that Furillo is an experienced journalist who was shot at as he covered riots in Los Angeles and threatened by family members of criminal defendants while he covered Sacramento’s Superior Court. He’s seen worse.

But not every sports journalist has that background. And none of them need to put up with grossly unprofessional behavior to cover a basketball team.

To drive the point home, the Bee released a compilation of clips featuring Cousins belittling (at best) the media that drives him to such folly:

(The impetus for Cousins’ two reactions, which range from annoyance to apoplexy, are myriad. DeMarcus was understandably frustrated at Furillo in one clip from 2015 for needlessly interrupting DMC’s answer to a question while working in front of a scrum of reporters. From there Cousins took on Leo Beas, editor of Kings blog Cowbell Kingdom, which works under the ESPN umbrella.)

Cousins averages 28.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 blocks per game for the Kings, who are 10-16 and two games out of the final playoff spot in the West following Friday’s impressive win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

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Boogie has been with the team since 2010, when fears about his body language and ability to play nice with others helped ease him into the fifth overall slot in that year’s NBA draft.

His time with the Kings has been star-crossed, to say the absolute least: Cousins has been suspended by ex-coaches, for the league for engaging in a war of glares and nasty words with San Antonio TV analyst Sean Elliott, for the league for compiling too many technical fouls, by the Kings themselves for disciplinary action, by the league for punching Houston’s Patrick Beverley (as with the case with Elliott, a reaction that warms by the light of the “justifiable”), and again by former Kings coach George Karl.

The “former Kings coach” qualifier is necessary, as Cousins has been through six coaches in about five years’ time – since former coach Paul Westphal sent him home for disciplinary reasons just prior to the Kings siding with their young star in late 2011, and sacking Westphal.

DeMarcus is to blame for how he’s carried on, but he’s not the only one left embarrassing himself.

The utter lack of permanence and sensible team-building in Sacramento is the fault of the two ownership groups that have run the team during Cousins’ time, failings on the part of some of their coaches (including Westphal and Karl), and the uproariously poor work of the two general managers who have run the team since Cousins arrived.

The missteps that dot blindingly-poor work of the Kings have established the franchise as a bit of a “Basketball Hell,” as Karl termed it last season. It’s a moniker that has caught on with even the most reasonable of NBA observers.

The league and the Kings are looking into the altercation. The Pro Basketball Writers Association’s Josh Robbins, via the Bee, released this statement:

Josh Robbins, president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, called the incident “troubling” but an “extreme outlier” in how athletes treat journalists.

In a statement, Robbins said, “Professional reporters or columnists and the people they cover will not always agree on what is written or broadcast. … But each side should treat the other with mutual respect and professionalism. An overwhelming number of NBA players – maybe 99.9 percent – treat the professional news media admirably.”

Bee columnist Ailene Voisin chimed in from there:

“He is a bully, to be sure,” said Bee columnist Ailene Voisin, who has extensive experience covering the NBA, as well as the NFL and MLB. “He bullies everybody. He bullies his coaches, his teammates, team employees, reporters.”

Voisin went on to point out that this was the first time she’d “heard of him intimidating anyone physically.”

“He normally glares, stares and refuses to speak to the cluster of reporters if someone is present that he is annoyed with at that particular time. Or, he will simply refuse to answer a question from an offending reporter.”

For Cousins, here is the passage from Andy Furillo’s column that apparently set him off:

For Cousins, this is his second late-night outing on the club circuit this year that ended badly. In May, TMZ caught him at The DrYnk in Tampa with his younger brother, Jaleel. The celebrity gossip website reported that he and his brother were trying to get into the club’s DJ area when a confrontation broke out. Jaleel wound up getting shocked with a Taser and arrested while friends hustled DeMarcus out of the place.

Now, along with The DrYnk, Cousins will always have the Avenue.

Maybe he, and Barnes, should find better places to hang out.

The Bee defended the use of Jaleel’s name by pointing out that he is “also is an athlete and public figure,” which is true.

Jaleel Cousins went undrafted last June after playing basketball at Navarro College and South Florida, but he worked on the Dallas Mavericks’ Summer League team prior to making the team’s training camp roster. Cut by the Mavs, the 6-11 center plays ball for the Texas Legends of the D-League, where the 23-year old averages 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds under 11 minutes a game for the squad.

With that in place, Jaleel Cousins is DeMarcus’ brother.

With that also in place, as much as one would look to defend a brother’s honor to the ends of the earth, especially without him there to answer for himself, DeMarcus has to find it in him to stop himself from confronting a member of the press in a work setting. Furillo’s work number, email address and Twitter account are all listed near his byline, and Cousins had ample opportunity to take issue with the column in the three days between its publication, and the altercation.

DeMarcus has Kings employees constantly buzzing around him ready to act at his command if his bottled water is too warm, to say next to nothing about the media relations team that is on hand at all hours to make life smoother for all involved. The “this is the first time I saw him”-defense, for a 26-year old living with all the amenities the modern era provides, is inexcusable.

Cousins will likely receive a small suspension for his outburst, but this yet again leaves the Kings in a miserable position. In what almost looks like a throwback move – from an era where guys that averaged 28 and 10 could actually work as a franchise millstone – the squad has backed its way into trade rumors yet again because of the off-court work of its best player.

DeMarcus is set to make nearly $17 million this season and over $18 million next year for the Kings. Massive money, but also outdated terms – his four-year, $62 million contract extension came in 2013, well before news of the NBA’s massive new television deal hit. Well before the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement was solidified, and well before contracts hit the stratosphere.

Cousins is set to hit the stratosphere – 28 and 10, lest you’ve forgotten, and he can also hit three-pointers – in the summer of 2018. Prior to that, the Kings would seemingly do well to package the player and clean their hands of this sort of noise, right?

That’s not really how it works, in Sacramento.

Teams don’t really deal stars anymore. Gone are the days when an unhappy Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mark Aguirre or (as Sacramento knows) Mitch Richmond can be respectfully talked about in the trade market. Long gone are the days when teams are backed into giving up on franchise talents – be they overwhelming franchise players like a Chris Paul, or sometimes-there stars like Baron Davis – just because things aren’t working out. Franchises have discovered that in a league with just five players to a side, working with artificially capped “max” salaries, you best hang on to what you have.

That’s just presuming that teams would want to line up to offer picks, a young prospect, another star or a combination of all three for Boogie:


Making things worse, for Kings fans?

These are the Kings we’re talking about.

Were this any other franchise, even if they were working with a terrible general manager, we could see the Kelly Olynyk-deal’s writing on the wall. Kings general manager Vlade Divac isn’t just a bad general manager, he’s unorthodox. It is within the realm of possible that he would line up for the sort of embarrassing transaction that so many of his star-dealing predecessors in the past have made, but with Divac and the Kings (especially with owner Vivek Ranadive running the show), just about anything is possible.

From the sublime (Vlade signs former teammate Lawrence Funderburke, in a move to calm his star with some talk about the end times) to the ridiculous (Vlade hangs up on a frantic Tom Thibodeau when he offers Karl-Anthony Towns and a pick).

We just don’t know. Which would make this sort of intrigue fantastic, if it weren’t so deadening. Because Sacramento Kings fans, yet again, have to deal with this sort of nonsense in the middle of what could be the team’s 11th-consecutive season spent out of the playoffs.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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