Following the latest loss to the San Antonio Spurs at home Monday night, DeMarcus Cousins, who returned after a four-game absence due to a right Achilles strain, stood at his locker chatting with Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay and, of course, Drake, who had sat courtside in the second half next to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive. With the rapper there, wearing a University of Kentucky jacket, all seemed to be in relatively good spirits despite the thumping they had just taken. Cousins, Rondo and Gay chatted long after Drake had left as media waited for interviews. But celebrities can't mask six-game losing streaks, especially those that happen less than two weeks into the season. The Sacramento Kings now find themselves, sitting at a 1-7 record behind the lowly Lakers of Los Angeles in the standings.
After Rondo and Gay went their separate ways in the locker room, Cousins, who finished Monday's game with 21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, slowly turned around for the media. He was asked what he saw out of the Kings while he was sidelined with the injury that he wasn't aware of before. Boogie declared that there are in-house issues on the team that need to be addressed.
"We got some issues that we've got to carve out. Can't really speak on that, but one thing is, us players we've got to stick together," Cousins said. "We've got some issues in house we need to figure out."
And can they be cleaned up before the next game?
"Can't answer that."
Cousins, who admitted to feeling fatigued on Monday but that his leg feels fine, went on to say that these aren't on-court issues and that there would be a players-only meeting. He followed that up with this.
"Just to make it clear, I believe in every single person in this room and we just got to stay together. So that part I'm not worried about, but it is issues we gotta figure out," Cousins said. "When those issues are fixed, the winning will come."
Gay was asked if he agreed with what Cousins said, and replied with, "I do. I agree with it. It's obvious, what was it, six in a row? We have a lot of things we need to address and for us to be a good team we have to do it quick."
So what are the issues with the Kings that need to be cleaned up? It's anyone's guess right now, but through eight games, it is clear the Kings have not established any sort of identity - showing signs of the type of free-flowing, fast-paced team they could be at times and then showing a complete lack of interest in playing together on both sides of the ball another. The inability to play for a full 48 minutes isn't anything new to fans in Sacramento, but given the amount of veteran guys and additions that appeared to fill the holes in the roster this offseason, the lack of execution and overall lack of chemistry on the court at times certainly suggests things may be fractured somewhere.
Some of it could be poor effort by the players. Some of it could be injuries. Some of it could be an extremely tough schedule so far. Some of it could be still trying to get comfortable playing with almost an entirely new team. Some of it could be coaching. Head coach George Karl made some interesting decisions Monday. He started James Anderson and then only played him for 7 minutes. Willie Cauley-Stein started the game and then came out onto the floor in the second half only to be pulled out of the game, what seemed like immediately. Ben McLemore seemed to be having one of his better games effort wise but his minutes were sporadic. With so many injuries, Karl has toyed with the lineups quite a bit and appears to want/must make decisions based on matchups.
Gay admitted it can be difficult to find a rhythm while keeping up with changing lineups.
"It's different lineups, man. So people we haven't necessarily played with before. And it's tough, it's not just on the people that do play, it's tough on everybody, the guys that come in trying to fill in the pieces and we have a lot of young people that are being expected to do a lot of things," said Gay, who finished Monday's game with 10 points on 5-15 shooting and admitted to being in the worst slump of his career.
There will be much speculation about what the "issues" Cousins is talking about moving forward and we can't speculate too much based on cryptic statements. The bottom line is six-game losing streaks are a big issue for any team. This Kings team had some pretty high hopes coming into this season and is already floundering and frustrations are beginning to boil over.
Karl was asked what he thought the vibe in the locker room was like.
"I think right now, it's probably a little angry and frustrated and confused," Karl said.
He was right about that and one other thing, a win is what this team needs.
"The best thing that could happen right now is get a win," Karl said.
The Kings get the 5-2 Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.