Call me an ostrich wearing a blindfold (note to self: Halloween idea), but I'm totally not concerned about reports of locker room trouble for the Sacramento Kings. The team is underachieving at this point, losing consistently to really bad teams despite being competitive against -- and even beating -- really good teams. The Kings have wins over the Heat, Rockets (twice) and Mavericks in the past month. When they get busted up by the Sixers and Bobcats in consecutive games at home, everyone should be angry.
It just needs to be held in check, preferably by players. Coaches have only so much authority when it comes to player relations, and Michael Malone certainly doesn't have anything near Gregg Popovich status at this point. We don't necessarily know whether the Kings' issues are being held in check by anyone. To be honest, the leading candidates to hold it in check are Isaiah Thomas (who has been involved in some of the on-court anger among players) and Carl Landry (who is basically a coach right now since he's not playing).
Nothing has really boiled over; we'd know it if it had gotten out of hand. We've found out when things have boiled over in the past, with DeMarcus Cousins in the spotlight. And clearly, Cousins is a likely culprit right now. Tigers don't change their stripes. Emotional volcanoes don't seal up, they just go latent. There's little reason to believe any volcano on this team would be latent right now. In addition, the way Cousins and Jason Thompson regard each other on the court is pretty poisonous. Add in Isaiah and Rudy Gay (at least in the Charlotte game) and you have four starters who think the other guy is screwing up or worse, not playing hard.
But the good news is that there are two foolproof solutions to this flavor of discord.
1. Trade someone.
2. Start winning.
The second will come. Even the most myopic pessimist knows the team will win eventually. Maybe it'll take a decade. Who knows? But winning will come, and with Vivek, Pete D. and Malone in place, I think most of it think it'll happen by 2016 or 2017, with or without Cousins and the rest of the core around.
The first solution is something that obviously already been happening. None of the guys already traded have been bad chemistry guys, but D'Alessandro has been the most active GM in the league this season, and he's made it clear that he's not done. Thompson being around in March would be pretty surprising. And since he and Cousins seem to be the issue -- with Cousins being the far superior player -- that should provide some relief.
Some of us don't believe that Cousins will ever get along with teammates well enough to create a cohesive whole. We'll see. In the mean time, Cousins is the team's best player. He's producing at an outrageous level. His defense has been inconsistent at best. But he's not the only guy guilty of that. The guards have been atrocious at staying in front of their men. The other bigs aren't stopping anyone either. And at least Cousins takes a few charges, blocks a few shots, ranks top-10 in steals and rebounds the snot out of the ball. Cousins is not the problem with this team.
One player has seemingly checked out on the team. He'll be gone pretty soon. (For what it's worth, flaws and all, Marcus Thornton appears to be re-engaged with the club.) The team is mad at itself and each other because the team is pretty awful. That will change, hopefully soon. I'd be a lot more worried if the team had a winning record and fistfights. We've been through worse seasons. The star hasn't socked a teammate yet. No one is screaming at coaches as far as we know. Things will be okay.