Despite what you’ve read or heard in the last 24 to 48 hours, DeMarcus Cousins will still be a Sacramento King after the NBA Draft on Thursday.
That’s what NBA-TV analyst Jared Greenberg thinks, at least.
“Here’s the dynamic there that is so unique to most situations in the NBA,” Greenberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “When ownership took over, they were really embraced by the community because they got to keep the team. Vivek Ranadive, say what you want about him and what he’s done since he’s taken over, but if he didn’t step in and buy the team, they’re in Seattle right now. So (we would be) talking about that team, not what’s going on in the state capital of California.”
Ranadive became majority owner of the Kings in May 2013. Sacramento has gone 57-106 (.350) ever since.
“With that said, one of the things they’ve had to look forward to over the last several years – still with the fans pouring in to watch a horrific team – is one of the bright young superstars in this league, DeMarcus Cousins, who had a breakout year last year,” Greenberg said.
Cousins averaged 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals in 59 games last season. The Kings still finished 29-53 – which was, sadly, their best season since 2007-08 – but Cousins had career highs across the board for the second straight season and seemed to take a step forward in the maturity department.
To trade him now? When Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs in nine years?
“Ownership (knows) that the fans are not going to buy into taking a step back . . . (to take) two steps forward in two to three (or) four (or) five years,” Greenberg said. “You can’t do that. There’s not that many superstars in this league – and I’m not saying Cousins is, but he’s on the precipice of being there.”
Cousins, 24, is under contract for three more years. He didn’t agree with the firing of Mike Malone following an 11-13 start last December.
“DeMarcus Cousins actually got along with Mike Malone,” Greneberg said. “It was the first coach that ever got through to him – maybe since John Calipari.”
Cousins has had five head coaches in five NBA seasons. George Karl, 64, is a proven winner who could give the franchise stability – not to mention success – but Cousins doesn’t really fit Karl’s run-and-gun style.
“If it’s about a style and your conductor doesn’t believe that he can play the instrument properly, then you’ve got to move on from that,” Greenberg said. “But at the same time, I don’t know what you’re going to get that’s equal value, especially value that you’re going to see in the near future.”
The Los Angeles Lakers, who have the No. 2 overall pick, are reportedly interested in Cousins, but Greenberg believes the Lakers will “get themselves in trouble” if they make a serious push for the Kentucky product, mainly because Philadelphia, Boston and Orlando have more assets to offer Sacramento.
“They all have a lot more assets – real assets that they can move today and players with names that can make an impact today,” Greenberg said. “Maybe not be as good as Cousins, but (ones that can) start to fill the void. Plus, they all have a lot more draft picks.”
To make matters worse for the Lakers, general manager Mitch Kupchak may have shown his hand a bit too much with this year’s draft class.
“(He) has said there’s nobody in this draft that (is) single-handedly . . . making you a championship contender in ’15-16,” Greenberg said. “So the Lakers have gone on the record saying they don’t believe there’s a difference-maker today, but we want you to believe there is. That’s a tough sell.”