The Kings need to trade volatile DeMarcus Cousins while someone still wants him
DeMarcus Cousins is on a never-ending downward spiral in Sacramento
Enough is enough. It's time to save DeMarcus Cousins from himself, and to save the league from wasting one of its brightest lights by seeing him spend one more moment in an organization that clearly can't turn that talent into a fully functioning star basketball player.
Move Cousins. Give up the ghost, Sacramento. Accept that not all talent can be kept, not all beauty belongs to you, and not all opportunities can come to fruition. You, and he, failed togther. Let the man go.
For seven seasons, Cousins has given off a siren song on which various Kings head coaches, general managers and owners have crashed into the rocks.
Who can blame them for being tempted?
I can remember several conversations with the Maloofs, when they still owned the Kings and would face the inevitable Cousins drama, in which they would argue that he was too spectacularly talented, too young, and simply too promising to move. And they, like others who know him, insisted deep down he's a great guy. They had caught sight of something nearly mystical in Cousins to the point that they could not accept things the way they actually were.
I get it. All those years ago, I can remember rolling into Sacramento for some throwaway December game and leaving spellbound by what Cousins could be. To see it in person was downright intoxicating. That fact -- that his intoxicating surge of greatness is so rare, and so rarely appreciated -- today serves as even more proof his time as a King is, and always will be, a failure.
Things haven't changed. His skill set remains stunning, even beyond averaging 29 points and 11 rebounds per game entering Wednesday night. His physique, his hands, the fact that he's shooting a respectable 37.5 percent on threes, what he can do with a basketball when he won't get in his own way, the way he, like few others, seems to change the molecules in the air when he plays at his best -- all of it is there, waiting to coalesce into greatness.
And, yes, he's still tantalizingly young at 26 years old, still so good that it's hard not to think, again, of what could be.
Beyond doubt Cousins remains one of the game's most talented players. Period. Even now, in a golden era of raw talent brimming throughout the league, he has few equals. There is LeBron James, and then there are a handful of other names on the list. Cousins is one of those, and he is the only one who has not grown into the player that such talent demands.
But boundaries, culture and who you become because of who you're around and what habits you pick up matter as much as talent. Cousins has been coddled in Sacramento, stretching back through seven NBA seasons -- a young man with a foul temper and a passion he cannot control who has been taught only this: There will be no consequences. Keep doing you. Stay comfortable. Don't change.
And so he hasn't.
We've seen how that's worked out. Cousins gets numbers, sure, but he just as surely gets a locker room of discord and an organization that too often matches its own grand ambitions with destructive chaos. He's so great in theory but so mediocre in execution that his teams are perennial afterthoughts. That's a cardinal sin for any team with a player as talented as Cousins.
We saw on display this week not outbursts, but reminders of who Cousins is, at least now, at least as a King: Going off aggressively on a reporter, and then a few days later turning a 55-point night and a big victory into an opportunity to bemoan the world and show anger and frustration.
If you can't be happy after a win -- one where you scored 55 points -- then the time has come for a breakup. This relationship doesn't work for the Kings. This relationship doesn't work for Cousins.
It's time for an intervention.
There are teams with the assets or the young pieces to make an aggressive move for Cousins, one that could benefit everyone. Boston would be a great fit, and with the Nets' unprotected 2017 first-round pick and either Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart, they have the means to make it happen. Danny Ainge has the stones to go for it, Al Horford is a team-first guy who might help Cousins learn how a real locker room should operate, and Brad Stevens can (probably) get the best out of Cousins.
Other teams are intriguing landing spots, from Milwaukee to Phoenix to Utah to the Lakers.
Yes, the winner in the Cousins trade sweepstakes would get his baggage. They'll get a guy who (often rightly) sees refs teaming up against him, and who also (often stupendously poorly) can't handle that life isn't always fair, that sometimes you're going to be treated differently, that actions and petulance have consequences.
DeMarcus Cousins will never achieve in Sacramento. Sacramento will never achieve with DeMarcus Cousins. The road forward is obvious: Move on, get what you can, and start over.
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