Kings

DeMarcus Cousins on staying with the Kings, 'I was a fool'

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USATSI

DeMarcus Cousins on staying with the Kings, 'I was a fool'

The build up to DeMarcus Cousins’ return to Sacramento is sure to take a few twists and turns. For six-plus seasons he was the face of the Kings franchise for better or worse. Even his exit from the team came with drama.

The three-time All-Star will play in front of a Kings crowd for the first time since being traded to the Pelicans earlier this year. Thursday night’s game will be intriguing to say the least and the media barrage is already hitting hard. In a sitdown interview with ESPN’s Marc Spears, Cousins throws a couple of interesting tidbits in.

“My biggest regret is, why didn’t I leave when I had a chance?,” the 6-foot-10 center said in a prepackaged conversation.

When asked to elaborate, Cousins said he had the opportunity to leave when George Karl came aboard. Karl openly shopped the team’s star center, which set the stage for a miserable relationship between the two.

“I wanted to it a chance,” Cousins said. “My representatives, they told me I shouldn’t stay. But being, I guess you can say stubborn and loyal, I wanted to make things work.”

Karl was let go following the 2015-16 season after just 112 games with the franchise. Cousins didn’t last much longer, getting traded to the New Orleans Pelicans at the trade deadline in February.

“You knew coming in this was just a business, how you going to be loyal to something that ain’t loyal to any player that’s ever played the game,” Cousins said. “I was a fool.”

There were rumors of potential Cousins trades multiple times during his tenure in Sacramento. Be it the Lakers, Orlando, Cleveland or Phoenix, the Kings had options and refused to pull the trigger until late last season.

While his on court demeanor turned off plenty of folks, his work in the community was renowned. Cousins was awarded a the Offseason NBA Cares Community Assist Award.

“I’m excited to play in front of the fans and see their reaction, but as far as it being just a revenge game or anything, I’m past it,” Cousins said.

He’s an emotional player that wears his heart on his sleeve. Thursday night is a big night for Cousins, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

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Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings were treated rudely by the Denver Nuggets to open their three-game homestand on Monday. They’ll get another shot to pick up a win Wednesday when the upstart Los Angeles Lakers swing into Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento has struggled to find consistency this season on the road, but they’ve been able to ride their home crowd to impressive wins over Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Portland. If they can knock off the Lakers, they improve to .500 at home on the season. 

The Lakers are coming off a come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and have to play Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back. They are a young and exciting team, that present plenty of matchup issues for the Kings.

BETTING LINE 

Lakers by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball -- Let the games begin! The drama surrounding these two dates back to college. Fox ran over Ball at the NCAA level, outscoring the former UCLA Bruin in both games last season, including a 39-point outburst during a tournament game. Ball missed the summer league matchup between the two, causing a bit of a stir on social media. Wednesday night is nothing more that a pair of 19-year-olds playing hoops against one another while hundreds of thousands of people watch intently. No pressure, kids.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 4-13, fifth place in Pacific

Lakers: 8-10, second place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Lakers: PF Larry Nance Jr. (hand) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

BRIGHT LIGHTS -- The world is watching. Sacramento doesn’t draw the attention of the national media all that often, but plenty of eyes will be on the Kings/Lakers matchup on Wednesday. Will the Kings bring the defensive intensity that helped them knock off the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday or will they fade like they did against Denver last time out?   

REBOUND -- The Kings are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and they’ll face a team that knows how to hit the glass. Dave Joerger needs his guards to get involved if they hope to avoid another lopsided rebounding deficit. 

CONTAIN KUZMA -- Ball gets all the pub, but it’s the late first rounder out of Utah that is turning heads. Fresh off a 22-point performance Tuesday against the Bulls, Kyle Kuzma is posting nearly 17 points per game while starting at power forward for the Lakers. He’s a player that plenty of teams are now regretting passing on in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

SERIES HISTORY 

These two teams split the season series 2-2 last season, with each team winning one at home and one on the road. Los Angeles owns a huge 270-153 lead in the all-time series and a 92-44 advantage during the Sacramento-era 88-47. 

QUOTE

“It’s fun. Sometimes there’s too many haters out there. It is what it is. Smile and enjoy it. I think it will be a great opportunity for those two guys to begin their careers.” Dave Joerger on the Fox/Ball matchup

Basketball junkie Vince Carter ecstatic to return from bout with kidney stones

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Basketball junkie Vince Carter ecstatic to return from bout with kidney stones

SACRAMENTO -- In today's world, 40 is the new 30...until kidney stones hit. Vince Carter keeps himself in incredible shape. In his 20th season, he is a beacon of health and fitness. A marvel of an athlete that has retained plenty of the athleticism that earned him the moniker, “Half man, half amazing.”

Carter hasn’t felt amazing over the last few weeks. A nasty bout with kidney stones left the 40-year-old forward on the outside looking in. Seven games later, he’s ready to take the floor for the first time in over two weeks Wednesday evening against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I was just happy to sit on the court the other day, just to dress out in a suit and just to be around the guys again,” Carter told NBC Sports California following shootaround. “That’s what I do. I play the game of basketball. I love it. I love being around it. I can’t wait.”

Carter has missed the Kings’ seven games with calcium oxalate kidney stones. He needs to drink more water, but the biggest culprit in his diet has been a love of greens. 

“It comes from a lot of spinach and kale,” Carter said. “It forms from there.”

While sitting at home watching the team play from his couch, Carter said he was texting coaches and anyone else who would pick up during games. Being away from his teammates is the last thing a basketball lifer wants to do. 

This isn’t the first battle with stones for Carter, but it was by far the worst episode he’s had. It’s also not the first go around for the Kings medical staff, who helped former King Marcus Thornton work through a similar situation a few years back. 

Where Carter fits in on a young roster is still a question, but he’ll likely see court time against the Lakers Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center.