Based on what we've heard from each side -- Jason Jones' Sacramento Bee story predictably gets all the info in there -- there hasn't been an inch of give from either side of the DeMarcus Cousins-Paul Westphal spat. Cousins put out a statement through his agent Monday night reiterating that he did not and has not demanded a trade, Westphal continues to say that he did, Cousins will suit up on Tuesday to get the Kings' active roster to 12 and Westphal will hold him out of the starting lineup and perhaps the rotation. There is no give here.
That's a whole lot of stubbornness from both sides.
Westphal's position isn't secure, and he's going to hold the NBA's No. 4 rebounder and his best low-post threat out of the starting lineup over this kerfluffle. By not starting or possibly playing one of the team's most productive (if still flawed) players, he is hurting the team's ability to win, and wins are what will save Westphal's job. Right now. he's putting this battle over his job, even if the battle began because Westphal valued his job over everything. (Needless to say, I'm still unconvinced that Westphal didn't pull the trigger on igniting this because of the heat he took from multiple players in the media Saturday night.)
Cousins' stubbornness shines through, too. Just about every other player in the NBA would have backed down on Monday, apologized loudly and visibly, and fallen into line. That Cousins didn't do that and again forcefully pushed back against Westphal's claims is really irregular. I can't think of another young player with a touchy reputation who would sit down, weigh the risks and rewards and fight back. That Cousins statement essentially calls Westphal a liar. Think about that. You've just being suspended (even if unofficially) for the fifth game in your second season by the coach. Instead of making amends to get back on the court quickly and stem the bleeding on your reputation, you hang tough.
I'm impressed with them both, Westphal and Cousins. We criticize folks for wilting with the wind and refusing to stand on principles. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. And these two dudes are standing on principle, refusing to budge, refusing to give. They agree to disagree, which is some married couple s--t, not some player-coach thing. AND COUSINS IS GOING TO SUIT UP. This is amazing.
One of them is standing tough on a lie, or at least a stretching of the truth. You've seen the anonymous reports of what folks overheard Cousins say on Saturday -- "if you think I'm such a cancer, trade me" -- and most of us, I think, would argue that calling that a trade demand is quite a stretch. (Am I wrong here? I think it's a big stretch, a semantic truth that most adjudicators will roll their eyes at.) If you're of that state of mind, like me, then the next dot to connect is that it's the coach standing tough on a stretching of the truth ... which would explain the motive of Cousins to refuse to back down.
That motive? That he's telling the truth.
Until one of them or the franchise buckles, we have no way of knowing if that reading is accurate, or if Cousins did actually go into Westphal's office and demand a trade and is now lying through his teeth. As we'll likely never know, we, the fans, are left hoping that the franchise resolves the issue (lose one of them) or that time and success heals the wounds. Too bad the Kings are embarking on an impossible month, tipping right off with three games in three days against potential (likely?) playoff teams. Good luck.