Following last nights disappointing-but-expected 108-99 loss to the Utah Jazz, DeMarcus Cousins talked to the media for the first time since he was suspended for arguing with George Karl on the Kings bench Wednesday night against Cleveland.
Among other less notable comments, DeMarcus Cousins stated that he was not suspended by the organization, and that the ‘head coach’ was responsible.
"That wasn't a suspension from the organization, that was a suspension from the head coach. "-DeMarcus Cousins— James Ham (@James_Ham) March 14, 2016
Taken literally, Cousins’ comments don’t add up. We’ve heard Vlade Divac speak on the suspension, and it never sounded like this was a decision that came from anywhere other than the organization. Divac made it so clear that blaming Karl for it never turned into a thing, and if the last 12ish months are any indication of anything, people love blaming George Karl!
The Kings were quick to shoot down Cousins’ accusation, stating that it was the organizations decision to suspend Karl, yadda, yadda, yadda, circus, yadda, yadda.
I am being told that DeMarcus Cousins was in fact suspended by the organization, not George Karl. It is his opinion that it was Karl.— James Ham (@James_Ham) March 14, 2016
The tail end of James Ham’s report is important. DeMarcus Cousins is of the opinion that it was Karl. I’m going to assume the sort of ‘meet in the middle, common ground, etc.’ version of this story is that Karl was the driving force behind suspending Cousins, and Divac agreed because, most importantly, it was the right call. I could be wrong.
(Side note - DeMarcus Cousins is far from blameless for how this season has gone. Some think that he has been THE problem instead of A problem. I'm in the A problem camp, and I firmly believe that the Kings can move on from this season with DeMarcus Cousins. Some don't, different opinions, that's fine. Moving on.)
Whatever side of the fence you stand on in regards to the ‘trade Cousins, keep Cousins’ argument, any scenario that involves Cousins placing the blame for this season's dysfunction on Karl, and not the organization, is a good thing for the Sacramento Kings.
If the Kings trade Cousins in the offseason, it’s better to do that without involving a trade demand. The Kings lose a considerable amount of trade leverage if the rest of the NBA knows Cousins wants out, and so long as Cousins and Divac maintain a respectful relationship, the Kings should be able to avoid that scenario.
And if the Kings ultimately decided to keep Cousins, both parties can just blame Karl and move on.
It’s cold, it’s weird, but it’s the NBA. The objective truth is that everyone is owed some of the blame, but using the departing party as a scapegoat is how this always goes down. The Kings won’t be the first organization to do it, and they won’t be the last.
Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears got a quoted response from Divac in regards to Cousins’ comments.
When told of Cousins' view of the suspension, Divac told Yahoo Sports with a huge grin: "I love DeMarcus Cousins. That is my only comment."
I couldn't help but read that and smile, and I think it speaks to how valuable Divac can be to the Sacramento Kings moving forward, in whatever role he eventually settles in to.
Vlade Divac is trying to suck the life out of this story. I can commend that approach. Whether or not he succeeded remains to be seen. We know there is still animosity between Karl and Cousins, and that probably isn't going to go away so long as the losses continue to pile up, but the Kings can be bad without having this much tension in the locker room. It doesn't help that Karl and Cousins haven't talked as of last night, aside from pleasantries that may or may not have been exchanged. No, seriously. We have conflicting reports of 'pleasantries'.
This organization talks. They all talk too much, and then they all respond to each other publicly, which creates more talk, and more response, etc, etc.
I don’t take the ‘I love DeMarcus Cousins’ comment as indication that the Kings won’t trade Cousins. I think that is just Vlade Divac’s way of telling everyone shut up, inside and outside the walls.
I’ll take it one step further, and before I do, I’ll state that this is opinion. It is not based on facts, much like the last two unbelievably irresponsible and misleading articles from the Sacramento Bee – Andy Furillo, here, and Ailene Voisin, here.
I think Vlade Divac said that ‘I love DeMarcus Cousins’ comment with a nod to those trying to push a narrative that doesn’t exist. Maybe Cousins is dealt, maybe he isn’t, but having the Bee completely misrepresent Divac’s ‘when’ comment in regards to potentially trading Cousins goes beyond irresponsible. It’s damaging to Cousins, it’s damaging to the organization, and it is the definition of trying to run someone out of town. It certainly doesn't make Divac's job any easier.
They can write whatever they want, just as I can respond with how bush league I think those columns were, but twisting the Kings / Cousins trade narrative like it’s a matter of when, not if, is ludicrous, particularly when Divac said ‘I don’t think so’ in the same media sessions on trading Cousins. I’ll give Furillo brownie points for mentioning it. Voisin must have missed it.
The Bee has reach. Two columnist accuse the Kings of being done with DeMarcus Cousins, essentially report that he is as good as gone, word gets back to Cousins’ party, his manager tweets "Be careful what you wish for" and boom a new narrative has been spun. Dirty. END OPINION.
Of course, there are multiple ways to interpret any of this stuff. Maybe Cousins' manager found a monkey paw or something? Maybe Vlade Divac said 'I love DeMarcus Cousins' in jest, indicating that he doesn't know what else to say or do. The Kings are only getting worse, they are only getting more dysfunctional, and I wouldn't blame Divac for taking the 'I don't know how to address this' approach. Actions speak louder than words, however, and we'll find out exactly how everyone feels over the next couple of months.