For DeMarcus Cousins, it's now or never in Sacramento

USA TODAY Sports

Vivek Ranadivé and Mike Malone both expressed their support of DeMarcus Cousins. Now it's time for Cousins to either step up or write his own ticket out of town.

In Monday's press conference to officially announce Mike Malone as the new head coach of the Sacramento Kings, center DeMarcus Cousins was a hot topic of conversation. There had recently been rumors that Malone was hired with the expectation that Cousins would be traded. There have been rumors of Cousins being floated in trade scenarios. All of this despite that fact that the Kings are currently being run by lame-duck GM Geoff Petrie. The likelihood that VivekRanadivé would allow a lame-duck GM to negotiate the biggest trade since Peja for Artest is laughable at best, so I don't put a lot of stock into those rumors.

But nonetheless, rumors exist and drive conversations, so Cousins was a hot topic in Vivek's first press conference since escrow closed on the purchase of the team. And both Vivek and Malone gave Cousins their full support:

Now it's time for the excuses to end. I'm perfectly happy to forgive past transgressions by Cousins. I'll forgive but I won't forget. But we can move on. What happened in the past is in the past. We all know that the environment around the team has been dysfunctional at best and completely toxic at its worst. It's undoubtedly been a difficult environment for all of our young players to live in. And some players have handled it better than others, but none of that matters anymore.

Vivek and Malone and whoever is chosen as GM will have a shared goal: change the culture of the Kings and turn this franchise around. This isn't the Maloof regime anymore. This means no more excuses. Malone is a fiery figure and I won't be the least bit surprised to hear of shouting matches between him and Cousins. And that's ok. That can be healthy. It's a normal thing in the NBA. What matters is that those shouting matches be productive and generate something more than ill will.

The days of DeMarcus the malcontent must end.

We've seen what Cousins is capable of. The final game of the season against the Clippers was the embodiment of every argument of why you don't trade Cousins yet. He is a superbly skilled player. That single game showed just how dominant a force Cousins can be. It's time to embrace that level of focus and engagement for 82 games.

The culture of the Kings is changing. Cousins can get on board with that culture change or his exit will become a signal of it. It's his choice.

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