In walked Keith Smart, a good coach with intelligent ideas who is being fed to the wolves in Sacramento. Smart could coach this team, could rein in all this talent and get it pointed in the right direction -- if only the talent weren't so belligerent. Cousins has been quiet lately, has temporarily cut it out with the constant bickering to the refs and disrespectful on-court demeanor. He's also showed signs of coming around on the court, as he did Wednesday night with a 21-point, 19-rebound performance in a 98-91 victory over the Raptors. But that's one night; Cousins' reputation has been built over many. Is it only a matter of time before he turns on this coach too?
"He hasn't had any problems for me so far, so what I want to focus on is where he's at right now and not what has happened or what I may have heard," Smart said. "He has a clean sheet of paper for me. I'm going to coach him as if he's brand new to me. I won't look back and say, 'He did this.' I'm going to focus on right now."
Smart is well-intentioned and knows what kind of coaching Cousins requires. But how could Smart possibly have the clout to coach Cousins that way -- with tough love, erring way on the tough side -- when his predecessor was so haphazardly tossed overboard in an obvious organizational genuflection to Cousins?
Oh, where to start ... ?
It speaks for itself: DeMarcus Cousins is playing out of his mind on the court, fulfilling all of the promise that every observer saw in him at Kentucky. And the only national column you see talking about DeMarcus Cousins minimizes his on-court performance to emphasize his flaws, treats Paul Westphal like a martyr and trashes the franchise all in one fell swoop.
When Geoff Petrie allowed Westphal to send out that ridiculous statement trashing DeMarcus, he laid down the brickwork for columns like the one Berger just published, pieces that ignore accomplishments to tear down a 21-year-old cornerpiece of the franchise.
Let's be straight: some writers were going to rip Cousins no matter what. We saw it happen to Webber for years. But the January 1 cannonfire from Westphal was wholly unnecessary and destructive, and without that volley from a flailing, gallows-bound coach, Berger doesn't write this column. How can the Kings PR staff stick up for Cousins now, given that the franchise itself has exacerbated the mess? How can Petrie or Wayne Cooper call Berger with a straight face and correct the record on Cousins' behavior after letting Westphal set it ablaze?
This is an incredibly strong example of why it was an incredibly bad idea to let that statement go out. Well done, y'all.