The Sacramento Kings have fined DeMarcus Cousins $50,000 in the wake of his recent verbal altercation with Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee. With the fine, the team issued a statement indicating additional punishments could follow if there are any future incidents. The statement from the Kings:
“The Kings have a clear set of standards of conduct expected of our entire organization. As a result of negative interactions with certain members of the media that were not corrected after verbal warnings, we have decided to impose a substantial fine. If this behavior is repeated again, we will be forced to consider further discipline.”
Some have taken issue with the fine, saying it isn’t enough to send any sort of message to Cousins. For comparison, the NBA fined Matt Barnes $15,000 for a verbal altercation with a ref in November. John Wall was fined $25,000 for inappropriate physical contact with a ref on November 9th. It’s the largest NBA fine since Tim Hardaway Jr was suspended three games, costing him just over $62,000. While you may disagree that $50,000 is enough of a fine for Cousins actions, it is a substantial fine relative to normal fines in the NBA.
Instead, I take issue with the idea that the Kings have a clear standard of conduct. The Kings didn’t fine DeMarcus Cousins for his actions. They fined DeMarcus Cousins because this became a story and they had to respond. The incident happened days before it became public, and the Kings had done nothing. Kings media relations employees were present in the video, there’s no question as to whether or not the Kings organization knew what had happened.
The Kings talk about improving the character of the locker room when the sign players like Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, and Arron Afflalo (whoops, that Afflalo one backfired). But for every “character” signing, there’s a character issue signing. Matt Barnes has a long and storied history of both on- and off-court incidents. DeMarcus Cousins had never been involved in legal trouble before Barnes’ arrival. And whether the lawsuit against Barnes and Cousins is a cash grab or legitimate no longer matters. We can no longer say that Cousins has never been involved in legal issues. The Kings also opted to sign Ty Lawson, a move that carried significant risk even though it has worked out so far.
The Barnes signing, the Lawson signing, and the Kings organization’s continued reactionary approach to holding Cousins “accountable” all point to one undeniable fact; The Sacramento Kings care more about wins than character.