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Malone hints that Cousins is the only guaranteed starter now

The Kings dropped their fifth game in a row Saturday night and head coach Michael Malone is ready to make some changes.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Kings head coach Michael Malone looked frustrated on the sidelines in Saturday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

During one second-half timeout, Malone huddled with just his coaches while the players sat on the bench talking amongst themselves a few feet away. Malone stared down at the floor at one point during the "coaches-only meeting," rubbing the sides of his forehead as if he had a massive headache, and he just may have considering the Kings continued to display a lack of effort on both sides of the ball.

That effort, combined with poor rebounding and an inability to make shots, resulted in the team's fifth loss in a row. It also led to Malone saying there will be changes made to the starting lineup when the Kings are back in action Wednesday at home against the Brooklyn Nets.

What changes? Well, based on his comments, they could be significant.

"Obviously, DeMarcus [Cousins] is, you know, he's going to be our starting center. But after that, you know, we have to find a group that is willing to compete and play at a high level every minute they are on the floor and we can't have guys, if you miss a shot or you make a mistake, hang your head and not make up for it on the other end," Malone told Sactown Royalty.

Not being able to get over the previous play is something Malone has continuously harped on since the season began. Mix that with allowing opponents too many open jumpers and an inability to hit shots, as Ziller pointed out, and there is an increasing need for a change.

Point guard Greivis Vasquez, who is one of the current starters on the hot seat, said he welcomes whatever changes Malone has in store for the lineup if it will help right the ship. Vasquez said the losses are the players' fault, not Malone's, and that chemistry is a problem right now.

"It's a team effort man, I think we've got to get the guys out there that can play together. That's the biggest thing I see, like our chemistry offensively and defensively, it's just not there, and we've got to work on that," Vasquez told reporters on Saturday. "It's not him [Malone], it's us. We're not doing what he tell us to do, you know, and that's unacceptable."

Power forward Patrick Patterson, another current starter, believes himself and his teammates are putting too much pressure on Cousins.

"I think we put a lot of pressure on DeMarcus because early on, if we throw him the ball in the post with like 18 seconds, 20 seconds, if he misses the shot, then, you know, that's a wasted possession, so I think we put too much weight on his shoulders," Patterson told Sactown Royalty. "I think if we all get some more ball movement, pass it around, things will get a lot easier."

It will be interesting to see what lineup Malone goes with on Wednesday. He used 12 guys in the rotation on Saturday, including Luc Mbah A Moute and Jimmer Fredette, who have both played sparingly so far this season.

"Luc, obviously, he battles. I mean ... one of the reasons we brought Luc in was because of his ability to defend multiple positions, he can guard 1 through 4 and he battled against LaMarcus [Aldridge] tonight, he made him feel him, which was great," Malone told Sactown Royalty. "Jimmer, I thought was aggressive, made a couple of plays, he has a good feel for the game, he drove the ball. I thought he got hit at times, but obviously, he didn't get the call; but he went out there and tried to make plays and be aggressive, which is all I can ask, and he competed on the defensive end of the floor."

Hmm. Wednesday should be pretty intriguing.

The season is still young with plenty of time to turn things around.