The NBA Corner: DeMarcus Cousins Is A Shit
DeMarcus Cousins is a shit.
Cousins, the talented second-year center of the Sacramento Kings, demanded a trade the other day. Then again, maybe he didn't. Either way, he was asked to stay home and watch his teammates take on the New Orleans Hornets from the comforts of his living room on New Year's Day. Kings head coach Paul Westphal, whom you may know best as the coach of the 1993 Phoenix Suns team that made the NBA Finals, released a statement outlining the organization’s side of the situation. It said, in part, the following: “When a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.” In other words, get on board with us.
This sequence of events should not come as a surprise to anyone. Cousins has long been criticized for his work ethic and approach to the game. Pundits feared he would derail his team's Final Four hopes while at Kentucky. Furthermore, “DeMarcus Cousins has always had a tag on him: immature. But that's often giving Cousins the benefit of the doubt. Because some might feel the right word is head-case.” He was even nicknamed “Bad Attitude”…by a PA announcer. NBA teams were leery of Cousins’s reputation and that was the major – and possibly the only – reason why he fell to the Kings at fifth in the 2010 Draft.
Now it looks as if their hesitation was warranted. He’s a nice player, averaging 14.1 and 8.6 as a rookie, but those numbers aren’t worth the headache. I realize that he is still very young (he was born in 19-fucking-90), but unless something drastic, like a change of scenery, occurs he’ll always be a player in the mold of Derrick Coleman – supremely talented with brief flashes of greatness that could never put it all together and was too difficult of a personality to ever reach even a fraction of his potential.
I’m not a guy that always sides with management (I still maintain that my Philadelphia Eagles should have given Terrell Owens a new contract in 2005), but it’s not like this is a new phenomenon for DeMarcus Cousins. I’m honestly not sure how the Kings should proceed. On one hand, I could see them wanting to dump him for the sake of locker room chemistry. On the other hand, why reward disruptive behavior, especially since “teams will lowball the Kings with trade offers, knowing they want to move Cousins and minimize the distraction?” The Sacramento front office is in a tough spot.
Then again, maybe this is all being blown out of proportion. Perhaps Cousins is telling the truth and he didn’t demand a trade. Perhaps he wants to return to the team and continue playing like nothing happened. That’s all quite possible. I could see him coming back to the team and producing as if everything were completely fine and he was totally happy. Even if that happened, I would bet that he would cause another distraction or two before the All-Star break. He’s Dennis Rodman Lite and he doesn’t have a strong personality that commands respect like Isiah Thomas or Michael Jordan to keep him in line. Plus, for all of his shenanigans, Rodman was a great competitor and a beloved teammate that has five rings, a retired jersey and a Hall of Fame plaque to his credit. DeMarcus Cousins has none of those things yet. That’s why he’s a shit.
(Update: Paul Westphal was fired on January 5, 2012, after only seven games into the season. I'm sure this will make Cousins somehow try even less than he already has.)
Other scattered shots:
-- Before losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the Miami Heat started the season 5 – 0, the best in the 24-year history of the franchise (compared to the team’s 0 – 17 start during its inaugural campaign). During that time, Dwyane Wade became the 25th active player to surpass the 14,000 point plateau. Can you name the other 24?
Here they are (as of January 3, 2012):
1. Kobe Bryant – 28,012 points (6th all-time)
2. Kevin Garnett – 23,400 (19th all-time)
3. Dirk Nowitzki – 22,927 (23rd all-time)
4. Ray Allen – 22,406 (24th all-time)
5. Tim Duncan – 21,715 (28th all-time)
6. Paul Pierce – 21,452 (30th all-time)
7. Vince Carter – 20,574 (35th all-time)
8. Antawn Jamison – 18,193 (58th all-time)
9. Tracy McGrady – 18,166 (59th all-time)
10. LeBron James – 17,538 (69th all-time)
11. Jason Kidd – 16,808 (78th all-time)
12. Grant Hill – 16,589 (81st all-time)
13. Jerry Stackhouse – 16,119 (88th all-time)
14. Juwan Howard – 16,102 (89th all-time)
15. Steve Nash – 15,931 (93rd all-time)
16. Jason Terry – 15,624 (101st all-time)
17. Chauncey Billups – 15,279 (113th all-time)
18. Shawn Marion – 15,210 (114th all-time)
19. Elton Brand – 15,098 (115th all-time)
20. Richard Hamilton – 14,940 (120th all-time)
21. Rashard Lewis – 14,862 (121st all-time)
22. Carmelo Anthony – 14,816 (123rd all-time)
23. Mike Bibby – 14,602 (128th all-time)
24. Andre Miller – 14,140 (141st all-time)
25. Dwyane Wade – 14,021 (145th all-time)
This list will undoubtedly get longer as there are five active players with more than 13,000 points:
- Pau Gasol – 13,837 (152nd all-time)
- Joe Johnson – 13,714 (154th all-time)
- Jason Richardson – 13,549 (159th all-time)
- Baron Davis – 13,269 (165th all-time)
- Amar’e Stoudemire – 13,058 (168th all-time)
-- Speaking of the Hawks, they’re 4 – 1 and looking good. No one has been more surprising in this still-infant season than #9 up there, Tracy McGrady. “Last night...McGrady stood out as the game's most impressive player. He put up 13 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter and threw a late game alley-oop from behind the arc to the freak that is Josh Smith.” Atlanta probably doesn’t have the ammunition to win a playoff series against Miami or Chicago, but they could be dangerous if given the right matchup. Knicks fans should be hoping to avoid the Hawks at all costs in the playoffs.
-- Like the Hawks, the Chicago Bulls have also started 4 – 1. It is their best start since the 1996 – ’97 season in which they started 12 – 0. That team, of course, won only 69 games. The year before, the record-setting 72 – 10 campaign, actually started out slower, losing its sixth game of the season and ending November at 12 – 2. So, yeah, they went 60 – 8 the rest of the way. That’s just silly.
-- Ray Allen went 6-for-7 from behind the arc against the Wizards on Monday night, but only 3-for-9 from inside it. It was his 47th game with at least 6 three-pointers. The man with the second-most, Peja Stojaković (32 games), just retired so Jesus Shuttlesworth will hold the record for the foreseeable future. Allen’s teammate Kevin Garnett is not only second among active players in points, he’s also first in rebounds with 12,857 career boards. For all his bullshit bullying, KG has had a terrific career, one in which he’s put up some impressive numbers.
-- The Mavericks are going to be fine. They just defeated the previously-unbeaten Thunder and while they most likely won’t wrap up one of the top seeds in the West, they’ll do enough to make the playoffs while keeping the important guys fresh for the tournament. They will continue to miss Tyson Chandler, though.
-- Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a terrific piece on David West’s arrival in Indiana and his leadership of the young team. “For everything free-agent forward David West has brought to the Pacers – a classic, refined presence – he’s declared his loud, bold arrival in the most subtle of ways: performance over promise, correction over criticism, a raised eyebrow over a harsh word.” The Pacers, too, are 4 – 1 and while they haven’t really played anyone (Pistons, Raptors, Cavs, Pistons, Nets), West’s presence has changed the entire dynamic of the team, both on the court and in the locker room. The young Pacers next play at Miami on Wednesday, a true test if ever there was one.
-- Is it time to say goodbye to Manu Ginóbili? He’s hurt again. He's made of glass. They should just make this as his profile picture over at NBA.com. Ginóbili broke his left hand Monday night against the Timberwolves and is out indefinitely. I think it’s time for San Antonio to cut ties with him. Yes, he is (was?) as supremely talented player, but he’s never healthy and when he tries to play through injuries as he did during last year’s playoffs, the entire team suffers. He’s 34 going on 84. I know the Spurs wanted to make one more run at a ring with this current group of geezers, but a compressed schedule doesn’t do them any favors. Now they have no idea when Manu will return. The problem is his contract – he signed a 3-year, $39 million extension that takes him through the end of next season so his expiring contract may become a valuable bargaining chip then, but for now he’s just a broken vase on a dusty shelf in a quickly-deteriorating home.
-- The Lakers are currently sitting at 3 – 3 after dropping their first two games to start the season. With Lamar Odom gone and Andrew Bynum suspended for the first four games, Kobe Bryant was expected to handle the bulk of the scoring. Well, even more than usual. The Association’s active scoring leader, he is now less than 600 points behind former teammate/nemesis Shaquille O’Neal. If he averages 10 points per game the rest of the way, he’ll pass Shaq this season. Something tells me he’ll get it. But it may not be easy. While he’s averaged 24 ppg through the first six games, he’s only shooting 40.2% from the field, the worst in his career. Even during the 2005 – ’06 campaign, when he averaged a whopping 27.2 shots per game, he still shot 45% for the season. In the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets on New Year’s Day, the same game in which he surpassed the 28,000 point barrier, he shot a middling 6-for-28. Oof. Now that Bynum is back and Pau Gasol is shaking off the rust, maybe it’ll free up Bryant for some open looks. Or maybe his wrist will heal. He’s still getting his shot off (well, except when he tries to dunk it over DeAndre Jordan) but they’re just not falling for him the way they normally do. However, it’s still far too early to make anything of it. I’m sure he’ll get back on track and will start sticking daggers through the hearts of opposing fans soon enough. (Note: As I was writing this, he threw a pass off the backboard to himself and scored 37 points and shot 14-for-29.)
-- Finally, as this Grantland piece by Sebastian Pruiti helpfully points out, I was wrong about Ricky Rubio. The hype surrounding him before the 2008 Olympics was enormous and while he made some fancy passes, I didn’t think there was any way that he would be able to survive in the NBA. To be fair, that was four years ago, but I held firm in my belief that he would turn out to be a bust. Looks like I was wrong and the Minnesota Timberwolves were right. It happens.
After all, as a wise man once said, “Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days.”
Pierzy writes a weekly NBA column during the season, as well as columns revolving around other sports, hip-hop, movies, TV shows, food, beer, marriage, and so many other topics. You can follow him on Twitter here.