Analysis: The instability of the Kings did DeMarcus Cousins no favors

Analysis: The instability of the Kings did DeMarcus Cousins no favors

SACRAMENTO -- DeMarcus Cousins took a microphone at a local Sacramento restaurant on Monday evening and couldn’t fight back tears. After almost seven seasons in a Kings uniform, the talented, yet enigmatic big man professed his love for the city that he has called home and the fans that have supported him.

“My love for this city will never change,” Cousins can be seen saying via mobile phone footage. “Even though I’m gone, it will still be the same. I’m still looking out for these kids. Every family in this city matters to me. Every soul in this city matters to me. Everything’s the same, I’m just not in a Kings uniform anymore.”

Rarely has Sacramento had a player kick and scream to stay. That is what happened behind the scenes over a wild weekend. Cousins made a commitment to remain in Sacramento, likely for the rest of his career. He spent All-Star weekend expounding his love for the city and his team.

The Kings weighed their options and went a different direction. That new path is a youth movement that was already underway.

Cousins wears his emotions on his sleeves. He can’t help it, regardless of what people think. Watching him grow from a 19-year-old kid to a 26-year-old man has been one of the more intriguing aspects of covering the Sacramento Kings since 2010.

Every night was different. Every mood was different. Be it a serious look from across the room and the 6-foot-11 big man summoning you over to explain a tweet, or Cousins seeking counsel after picking up another tech, there was never a doubt that he was real.

Watching him hug and take pictures with kids at his basketball camp showed one side of Cousins. Seeing him come unglued on a reporter while wearing just a towel demonstrated another. There was very little middle ground.

The instability of the Kings did Cousins no favors. Six coaches, three general managers and two ownership groups in seven seasons helped perpetuate the cycle of confusion and chaos. But that doesn’t mean that anything would have worked out differently.  

Loyalty isn’t just a brand for Cousins, it’s how he lives his life. He’s been trapped inside a fishbowl from a very young age. Rarely has he let people into his world. His kids have always been off limits. His family history has remained mostly anonymous as well. The larger than life persona on the court has never consistently matched the man you see off it.

The locker room won’t be the same. Maybe that’s a good thing for Sacramento. Maybe the Kings will turn a much needed corner and become something other than a perennial lottery team. But there is no question that they just gave up the best big in the league and a player who never wanted to leave.  

Sacramento invested time and energy into Cousins. In the end, they had to make a tough decision. Could they win with him? If not, would they ever be able to move the star big when his price tag read 40 or even 50 million?

There were only two options - sign him to a max deal or trade him. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. His value as an asset was diminishing by the day, despite his incredible production on the court.

They chose to rip the band-aid off in one quick pull and start over. Their decision has sent shockwaves around the league, but very few people know what it feels like to walk in the Kings’ shoes. Sacramento knows they have a new building to fill and they know they got less than market value, yet they still made the move.

The return is not what was expected, but this wasn’t a normal transaction. Cousins’ talent is unquestionable. His on court production was incredible. His generosity in the community is legendary. But pieces were still missing from the overall puzzle.

This wasn’t about Buddy Hield or a draft pick in the stocked 2017 NBA Draft. This was strictly a decision to step off of one long and winding path and choose another direction.

Kings fans will watch Cousins continue to make All-Star appearances. He will likely be a first team All-NBA player this season and he and Anthony Davis might make the best big pairing since Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

The Kings will likely struggle to win 30 games for the next season or two and maybe longer. They might never stumble on a similar talent. But it wasn’t working, end of story.

For the last seven seasons, the Sacramento Kings have been the most interesting bad basketball team in the league. Relocation is over and now DeMarcus Cousins is gone. The focus will now be strictly on hoops, which might be the scariest proposition of all.

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

SACRAMENTO -- Giving new meaning to playing under protest, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks game at Golden 1 Center was delayed 13 minutes Thursday evening due to an actual protest outside the building.

Protesters locked arms in front of the entrance to the building, blocking ticket holders from entering the arena.

The Kings released the following prepared statement.

“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”

Minutes before the 7:10 game start time, the Kings invited what few fans made their way into the building to sit in the lower bowl. A couple of thousand fans moved as close to the court as possible, while the doors remained closed to the outside.

The protest stems from the release of police body cam footage of the officer involved shooting death of South Sacramento resident, Stephon Clark, on Sunday evening. The video was released on Wednesday.

As of 8pm PST, the Golden 1 Center remains surrounded by protesters with security and police officers stationed insider every entrance and exit door.