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Don't buy the "Blame DeMarcus Cousins" narrative

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There's a growing sentiment against DeMarcus Cousins, but the justifications being pushed lack logic.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There's a growing sentiment that the Kings would be better off trading DeMarcus Cousins. We've been down this road before. Even Tom Ziller, our beloved Editor Emeritus, suggested as much before the start of the season. But it's become surprisingly loud in the past few days, and from outlets with suspect motives.

Grant Napear, one of the best play-by-play men in the league, is difficult for me to stomach as a sports talk radio host. He has a long and well-documented history of pushing narratives from within the organization. He's close to the team, hears the chatter, and often using that chatter to position his opinions on players or potential moves. With that in mind, the following exchange is rather interesting.

These comments conveniently echo comments made in the Sacramento Bee by sports columnist Andy Furillo. Furillo's hit piece on DeMarcus Cousins trots out the old tropes. Cousins hasn't won enough games. Cousins has had on-court incidents. And the kicker, Cousins should be traded, and should be traded for Blake Griffin.

Let's take a quick step back from the ledge and examine all of this.

DeMarcus Cousins is no saint. He's not a role model when it comes to on-court attitude. None of this is in dispute.

But to suggest Cousins is underachieving and hurting the team, as Grant does? That's sheer lunacy. Say what you will about Grant, he's smart enough to know that DeMarcus is putting together the best season of his career, and had an absolutely incredible January. He still had defensive lapses and moments where he's struggled, but "underachieving"? Ridiculous.

And let's dive a little further into the notion of trading for Blake Griffin. Griffin whines to refs just as much as Cousins. It may not impact his ability to get back on defense, but Blake is no on-court saint either. And let's not forget that his current off-court troubles, the assault of a friend and Clippers employee, are hardly his first off-court problems. There's also a December 2014 assault charge, where Blake allegedly struck a patron of a Las Vegas night club for taking a picture of him. The status of those legal proceedings? I can't find anything online. But it paints a picture. Especially compared to DeMarcus Cousins' grand total of zero off-court incidents.

Furillo writes

We all know the DeMarcus that we know. He's arguably the best big man in the NBA, with his 26.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He's been named to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season. He does some good things in the community. He's a good dad and family man.

Aside from dramatically underselling the positive community outreach that Boogie does, Furillo is suggesting that the Kings trade arguably the best big man in the NBA, who does good community work, and is a good person, for a guy who just struck his friend in the face multiple times, and did so hard enough to break his hand.

Furillo also trots out the old trope of "if Cousins is so good how come the Kings haven't won more games?" This, of course, is an extension of the "COUNT THE RINGZZ" argument, and demonstrates a willing ignorance of how professional sports work. Team sports are not won or loss by any single person. Great players make their teams better, without question. You want to argue that Cousins hasn't made his teammates better? Let's do it, that's a valuable discussion. But to suggest that Cousins should have won more games while being supported by limited players like Francisco Garcia, Pooh Jeter, Travis Outlaw, or John Salmons? Give me a break.

Furillo also can't stop himself from another tired criticism:

Cousins has also hit double figures in technical fouls every year he's been in the league. He has twice led or tied for the league lead in technical fouls and has not finished worse than fifth.

We'll ignore the fact that Cousins is generally joined on the list of league leaders by other stars of the NBA. This season Dwight Howard has 12. Cousins has 11, tying him with Draymond Green. DeAndre Jordan and Markieff Morris both have 10. The remainder of the top 10 is rounded out by Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Andre Drummond, and John Wall. Aside from Morris, none of those players are considered malcontents. And while he's not in the top 10 this season, alleged character upgrade Blake Griffin finished last season with only two fewer techs than Cousins.

As though all of this isn't enough to show you how asinine the article is, Furillo's piece begins with the premise that the Kings came to their senses by deciding to keep George Karl. This is a move that, both inside and outside Sacramento, is being viewed as yet another insane move by a franchise that is poisoned by its leadership. Furillo then suggest that "Hopefully, the rapper Drake or actor Jamie Foxx or any of his other courtside buddies can advise Ranadive on [moving on from Cousins]."

Yeah, that sounds like a winning plan.

The Kings are a mess. As I've written before, Cousins is not without blame. But to pretend that he's the biggest problem with the Kings, as opposed to a gameplan that fails even the basic standards of modern NBA competence, or a lack of leadership moving the franchise in a unified and dignified manner, is to buy into an idea being pushed by forces unseen. Don't let it fool you.