“He might be our best passer.”
That’s what George Karl, the new coach of the Sacramento Kings, said about DeMarcus Cousins, according to this morning’s Sacramento Bee. Karl was talking about his plan to experiment to see how to best use all his players.
I read that and figured Cousins must have gone ballistic. He probably rejiggered his recent rant about Karl and God’s plan. It might have sounded like this:
“The crazy thing about it is, I’ve just got a question for y’all: How you gonna stop Karl’s plan? How you gonna do that? How you gonna do that? That’s all I want to know. How you gonna stop Karl’s plan?”
The Kings’ star center is averaging 23.8 points per game this season. That’s higher than his season average in any of his four previous seasons. Those points made him an All-Star this season. If his average keeps improving, he’ll be getting a $100 million contract in a few years. The NBA pays its stars for scoring, not passing.
In his full statement about Cousins, Karl pushed his budding makeover plan even further and said:
“I think everyone’s hung up on DeMarcus being a big man. DeMarcus is a basketball player. He plays basketball very well, and he can play a lot of different ways. He can play a lot of places. I don’t want to offend anybody on the team, but from what I see, he might be our best passer.”
Cousins, who stands 6 foot 11 and weighs 270 pounds (when he’s in shape), has carved out a niche as a powerful post player with the foot speed to go past plodding defenders. He’s become one of the league’s dominant centers this season. But his dominance depends on a set offense that gives him time to establish his position.
Now we have a new coach coming in and throwing out public hints that Cousins will have to sacrifice the things that have made him a star and buy into Karl’s theories about team play and offensive flow.
What’s in it for Cousins? Some wild-eyed sportswriters tell us that Cousins desperately wants to shed his loser image and will eagerly embrace the theories of a coach who is a proven winner.
That’s doubtful. Cousins knows the score. Big scorers earn top dollars regardless of their team’s performance. Cousins is a 24-year-old guy heading toward the prime of his career and his biggest paydays. Why should he let winning get in his way? He can burnish his reputation as a winner down the road. Coaches are the ones who have to win right away.
Cousins has no reason to trust anyone in the Kings’ organization. The big guys kicked aside coach Michael Malone, who catered to Cousins’ style and showed signs he could win with it. They went back on their word keep Tyrone Corbin for the rest of the season. They’ve told him he’s their man while pushing an uptempo style that doesn’t suit him. Now they’ve gone and hired a coach who hails Cousins as a passer.
Let the fireworks begin and hear the cowbells fall silent.