DeMarcus Cousins's last chance with Team USA

Alberto E. Rodriguez

Boogie is in Vegas for Team USA minicamp. This appears to be his last chance to make the club.

1. Team USA is holding its annual minicamp in Las Vegas this week. DeMarcus Cousins has been invited and will participate. On paper, it looks like Team USA needs at least one more big man to take to Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup along with Kevin Love. Cousins is an obvious top contender for that spot.

2. I still don't think anything that happened with Cousins last summer at Team USA minicamp was his fault. He played hard, by all accounts. He argued with the referees. He may have gotten into shouting matches with opponents during the scrimmages. He played with passion and his typical attitude, by all accounts. And so Jerry Colangelo told the media he needed to mature, and Cousins took offense (feeling he'd done nothing to deserve that tag), and Colangelo eventually apologized and blamed bad fish (like the 2012 and 2013 Kings!) or something.

3. That said, drama is drama, and no one running a program like this -- a program where you train for a couple weeks, then face some damn good teams in a foreign country with little rest -- needs drama. Everything has to go well to win if you don't have guys like LeBron James playing, and it doesn't appear LeBron will be playing in 2014. (I'd bet he'll be back for 2016. I mean, Rio. Duh.) If Team USA doesn't win the World Cup, they have to win the FIBA Americas tournament in 2015 to get an Olympic bid. The last thing Team USA management wants is to have to pull together a squad for tournament play in 2015. Win 2014 and avoid that.

4. As such, anything that could upset the obviously vastly talented squad will be avoided. If it looks like Cousins could at all cause problems in Spain, he's not going. Colangelo and Coach K aren't going to play with fire if there's smoke.

5. Making this right and having a strong, sane performance this week in Las Vegas could do a lot for The Cousins Narrative. How poetic would it be for Cousins to put himself in the driver's seat for a Team USA spot, then get off to a strong start under Mike Malone? I can see the gushing columns about how he turned his life around already.

6. If Cousins doesn't do well this week -- whether due to attitude or play -- I think he's done with Team USA, either of his own volition or of Colangelo's. Much like this next season is Cousins' last chance as cornerstone of the Sacramento Kings, this is his last shot to become a Team USA player.

The fact that Cousins is so passionate in his desire to make the team is encouraging. Here's to hoping it goes well.

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