The Sacramento Kings are a mess in more ways than one. At 1-7, the team is feeling the pain on multiple fronts. The players aren't happy, the fans aren't happy, and losing tends to exacerbate underlying issues. All summer this team was spouting optimism about a fresh start for all involved but now that their under trial by fire, that glowing facade seems to be peeling away.
A new report from the Big Lead seems to indicate that things are worse than they appear behind the scenes at Sleep Train Arena.
From Jason McIntyre:
After Sacramento was hammered at home by San Antonio Monday night, the Kings' star, DeMarcus Cousins, stormed into the locker room and cursed out head coach George Karl with a torrent of obscenities, a person close to the situation told The Big Lead.
After Cousins unleashed the F-bombs on Karl, all the head coach - who publicly feuded with the Kings best player last summer - could do was walk away, a source tells The Big Lead. Afterward, Cousins felt some remorse for his actions, asking a couple of teammates if he came down too hard on the coach. They calmly told him, "you can't scream and curse like that at your coach in front of everyone."
That's not the only big revelation in McIntyre's report. He says that during the team's meeting yesterday, Vlade Divac reportedly asked the the team if they should fire head coach George Karl, a question that the team was apparently shocked by. He also mentioned that Vivek Ranadivé wants to make a big run at Kentucky coach John Calipari next year, something previously reported by Adrian Wojnarowski this summer.
While my immediate reaction to reading all of this was disbelief, I can't put anything past the Sacramento Kings anymore. Plus, we have the excellent reporting of James Ham to fall back on, and he stated yesterday that there was a very weird vibe in the Sacramento locker room after the loss to the Spurs.
From James (bolding is mine for emphasis):
The story goes sideways from here. Something happened behind the scenes before the media was allowed to walk into the Kings locker room. We won't speculate as to what, but once again, the room had an awkward vibe.
No one was in the mood to speak. And before anyone could fully get dressed, Canadian rapper Drake entered the room as a guest of owner Vivek Ranadivé. There were a few handshakes and some laughs from a small group of players surrounding the singer, but the entire scene was a bad look.
Now, some things about the Big Lead's report don't make sense. They mention the fact that this was a players-only meeting, but according to multiple reports yesterday, this was a team meeting that involved both players, coaches and even members of the front office. Why would Divac bring up a question like firing Karl ... in front of Karl? Why would Divac bring up such a question at all? That doesn't make sense to me.
It also doesn't make sense for the Kings to be thinking about changing coaches before seeing what this team can do with the current one. Karl hasn't even coached half a season yet (he's currently at 38 games with the Kings).
Still, this report feels like some truth mixed in with some speculation. There's no doubt there are some underlying issues with this Kings team, specifically surrounding Coach Karl. In recent days we've had a report from Ailene Voisin mentioning that there are those within the Kings organization wondering just how much Karl has left in the tank. Carmichael Dave has mentioned that he'd be surprised to see Karl back next season, even if the team manages to turn things around. As if I needed more confirmation, Sam Amick wrote that Karl could be gone as soon as this week if the team's record continues to drop.
Where there's smoke, there tends to be fire. And if we've learned anything from Vivek Ranadivé's tenure so far, it's that the Sacramento Kings are a powderkeg that need only the smallest spark to blow up.
UPDATE 2:46 PM:
The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones has corroborated the Big Lead's report about Cousins' tirade against Karl in the locker room.
According to league sources, Kings coach George Karl wanted to suspend DeMarcus Cousins for two games following Tuesday morning's team meeting after the All-Star center allegedly directed a profanity-laced tirade toward the coach. The sources asked not to be identified because they are unauthorized to speak on the matter.
The sources went on to say Kings general manager Vlade Divac said Karl did not have authority to suspend Cousins nor would grant permission. Cousins is scheduled to start Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons at Sleep Train Arena.
When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Divac didn't deny Cousins used profanity or Karl's wishes to suspend the player, but he wouldn't comment on the matter.
"There's a lot of B.S. out there," Divac said. "I'd just rather not comment on it."
Karl also told The Bee he had "no comment" on the matter.
UPDATE 4:59 PM:
Sam Amick has more details on the locker room outburst in question:
But for all the focus on the emotional fireworks, there's a more substantive subplot that helps explain the root of this issue: the players' trust in Karl's motives. In between the Cousins-issued expletives, a person with knowledge of the situation said the 25-year-old big man made a comment to Karl about, in essence, his priorities. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The assertion was that Karl, who had pushed hard for this job leading up to his February hiring and was certainly a fan favorite, cared more about his coaching record than he did his players. Fair or not, it's telling that Cousins seems to have some support among his teammates regarding this sentiment.