NBA Gameday: For Kings, life without Cousins begins against Nuggets

NBA Gameday: For Kings, life without Cousins begins against Nuggets

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings begin the post All-Star break trailing the Denver Nuggets by just a game and a half for the eight seed in the Western Conference playoff race. But the game almost seems secondary to the drama surrounding the blockbuster trade that sent All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans over the weekend.

With 25 games remaining, Dave Joerger has to figure out a way to balance his rotation, which now includes three new faces in Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans. In addition to Cousins, Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi are also gone as the Kings hit the reboot button on a once promising season. 

Sacramento shopped other veteran players up until the end of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, but they chose to stand pat for the remainder of the season with their current group of 15.

Denver is clinging to a lead in the race for eight, but Sacramento, Portland, New Orleans, Dallas and Minnesota are all within four and a half games. Nikola Jokic has played extremely well in his second NBA season, giving Michael Malone a centerpiece to build around in the Nuggets high-powered offense.


Nuggets by 7


Kings vs. The Unknown -- Cousins manned the post for the last seven years in Sacramento and now he plays for a new team. Coach Dave Joerger has to adapt on the fly if without his leading scorer, rebounder and assist man. Sacramento plays a gritty style and they have won without Cousins in limited opportunities, but this is different. They must reinvent themselves on the fly if they have any hope of finishing the final 25 games strong.


Kings: 24-33, third place in Pacific

Nuggets: 25-31, third place in Northwest


Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) and G/F Garrett Temple  (left hamstring partial tear) are out.

Nuggets: No injuries to report. All players participated in shootaround.  


After sweeping the season series 3-0 last year, Sacramento holds a 1-0 advantage over the Nuggets this year. The all-time series between these two teams is close, but the Kings hold an 87-86 lead after winning four straight and they are up on the Nuggets 64-61 lead during the Sacramento-era.


“They have a chip on their shoulder. You make a big trade like that and I’m sure the players in that locker room are going to say, ‘everybody’s writing us off because we don’t have DeMarcus.’ They’re going to come out and try and prove everybody wrong. They beat Boston, a very good team, without DeMarcus, and I’m sure that’s the model they’re going to try to use moving forward.” -Michael Malone

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “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.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena.