DeMarcus Cousins is in Toronto for Sunday nights All-Star game, and with that honor comes a plethora of media obligations. It should come as a shock to no one that nearly everyone is asking Cousins about his relationship with George Karl, and the reported dysfunction around the Kings as a whole.
It's actually embarrassing that the Kings' inability to function like proper organization is ruining (and I use that term lightly here) Cousins' All-Star experience. File that one under 'ways the Kings have mishandled the Cousins era'. While everyone else gets to have a good time, Cousins has to answer to the same media outlets reporting on the Kings' dysfunction. I don't blame the outlets, by the way, it's just a tad unfair that Cousins is the one on the front lines, but I digress.
Cousins actually expressed some support for George Karl in Toronto. I use the adjective some there because he certainly could have showed stronger support, but I thought it was noteworthy in the sense that Cousins usually means what he says, and I think the diplomacy here is important.
DeMarcus Cousins, via David Aldridge, NBA.com
On George Karl -
That’s my coach, and that is who I play for. There isn’t an issue, that is who I play for.
On Vlade Divac saying Karl will coach the rest of the season (I'm not sure Divac actually said or meant this, but ...)
I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary.
Context is kind of important, because on the surface these comments read a little colder than they looked on video, which you can check out here. Cousins seemed in good spirits during the Aldridge interview, laughing, kind playing it off, etc. I just thought he handled that extremely well. Diplomatic.
His interview with Yahoo's The Vertical was slightly less comfortable, which isn't surprising because Yahoo hasn't exactly been kind to the Kings or Cousins, but in response to what boils down to a 'Kings drama' question, Cousins told The Vertical -
That’s our coach, so that’s what we’re rolling with. Our only thing is we want to win games and make it to the playoffs, so I’m with it (him)?
I couldn't quite make out Cousins' last word, it was either 'it' or 'him', which could mean a lot or nothing, but again, I thought Cousins handled himself well here. The Vertical's interview with Cousins seemed a little on the awkward side. It was pretty clear Cousins wasn't going to open up to Chris Mannix, which, again, considering Yahoo's relationship with the Kings, isn't surprising. All the little narratives at play here are actually fascinating, but that is another topic for another time.
I'll let you decide how supportive Cousins sounded in those interviews. I generally came away from his media sessions feeling like Cousins is at least leaving the door open for this thing to work. I admire that, and I shouldn't have to, but the media has painted him out to be such a chaotic presence that you almost, almost buy in to that narrative. Watching him navigate through the media like this is impressive. He's saying the right things, with an appropriate level of trepidation in the interest of being as honest as possible. I feel confident in saying that Cousins is ready to go, but the switch isn't going to flip itself. Karl is going to need to make some adjustments offensively, defensively, in the rotation, etc, or he's going to lose these guys again.
I've got two more quotes for you.
DeMarcus Cousins, via SiriusXM NBA Radio -
I love Sacramento. I think it is one of the best cities in the NBA.
I have a lot of faith in Vlade Divac & the front office..we're in a rough patch now but everything will be fine.
I share that because faith in the front office is important when you have so many pundits questioning why Cousins isn't demanding a trade. He has never expressed any sentiment that he'd like to go elsewhere. It's been all Sacramento, all the time, and I think his relationship with Divac is starting to show in the form of how Cousins answered the tougher questions I reference earlier. Strong answers, supportive, but honest. Real, but hopeful. That's the Vlade Divac special.
You can question whether or not retaining Karl after the Kings' most recent losing streak was the right move, but that move has already been made, and because this is the path Vlade Divac chose, I think it's a really good sign that DeMarcus Cousins respects Divac enough to go down that path with him.