DeMarcus Cousins' ability to fight inner Boogie more vital than ever

DeMarcus Cousins' ability to fight inner Boogie more vital than ever

There is a play in my head called The Agonies Of DeMarcus Cousins, and it’s a one-actor show full of interior dialogues, tortured expressions, runs of frustration from one side of the stage to the other, and from the orchestra pit to the back of the hall.

And now we have to edit in his first official groinal seizure, in which an actor playing Buddy Hield of the New Orleans Pelicans thinks the best way to get around a Cousins screen is to levy a punitive tax on his delicates.

It was a fairly brazen act, the sort that had been a feature of the 2016 season but had been nearly unseen this year. But Cousins endured the indignity while Hield was ejected for a flagrant two (I will now leave you to use the number two for your own insensitive humor), and finished the game, a 105-99 victory over the Seabirds that moved the Kings back to within a game and a half of the one thing that we have waited for all these many years.

A first-round series against the Golden States.

The effects of the Hield seizure came and went, and Cousins finished the game (28 points, 14 rebounds), his progeny assembly undamaged. He and the Kings now go to Los Angeles to face the Lakers, and then back north to Oakland for their final game before the All-Star Break.

That is, if he can avoid picking up his 18th technical foul for the second time this season between now and then.

Cousins just finished serving a one-game suspension for getting his 16th technical last week against Chicago, which was actually his 18th because two of them, against Brooklyn and the Lakers, were later rescinded by the NBA office.

But he regained his 17th last night when Haywoode Workman saw him swing an errant arm at Pelican Donatas Motiejunas, and he had to adjourn to the Kings locker room by his own choice to regain his equilibrium.

In short, his next technical will result in another suspension, re-re-re-re-re-re-re-rekindling the debate about whether Cousins is good or bad for the Kings. It's a drama, based on history, but it is also a perfectly weird play because it is Boogie’s fate to forever split the audience.

But while the race to 16 was achieved in record time, it still took 52 games. Now, with suspension reduced to an every-alternate-T incident, and his career record of one technical for every 4.4 games. He is seventh on the list of active players with 105 technicals, and every player ahead of him on the list has played at least twice as many games, some (Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce) three times as many.

So the rest of his season, and that of the Kings, hinges on the day-to-nature of Cousins’ fractious relationship with the officials. There’s a weight in that reality that sometimes energizes Cousins, sometimes enrages him and sometimes even enervates him.

Inner turmoil always plays well.

The Kings have given him an exceedingly wide berth to cope with this individual battle, but the Kings are close enough to their first playoff berth in 11 years (only Minnesota has been absent longer). More to the point, the Kings would almost certainly be an eight-seed, which means that owner Vivek Ranadive could finally engage his personal bête noire 90 miles to the southwest.

External turmoil plays well, too.

In short, Cousins’ ability to restrain his inner Boogie is now more vital than ever. He cannot so freely indulge his need to rage against the whistled machine . . . well, okay, he can, but he desperately wants to win this fight with himself because he hates losing more than he hates officials and the league office for which they serve.

Now if this isn’t a play, then you’re an illiterate. Better still, the idea of “Hamilton” being supplanted in Broadway by “Boogie Agonistes” is frankly the best thing 2017 could provide us. And yes, we know that is a low bar to clear.

Which Chicago Bulls team shows up to face Sacramento Kings on Monday?


Which Chicago Bulls team shows up to face Sacramento Kings on Monday?

The Kings have no idea what Chicago Bulls team will show up Monday evening. On Friday, the Bulls shocked the Oklahoma City Thunder for a two-point win, just their sixth victory of the season. The next night they rolled over and lost to the Boston Celtics 133-77.

It’s not often you see a 56-point blowout in the NBA. In fact, it’s the worst margin of defeat in Bulls history and the players pinned it on new head coach Jim Boylen.

According to reports, the Bulls players are, “on the verge of a full-blown mutiny,” in Boylen’s first week on the job. Issues with Boylen’s coaching style and grueling practices led to a team meeting on Sunday, first with the players and then as a team.

After 19 years as an assistant, Boylen is getting his first chance running the show and it’s not going well. He took over for Fred Hoiberg, who posted a 5-19 record this season and a 115-155 showing over the last three-plus years.

Broylen has worked with plenty of great coaches, including 11 seasons with Rudy Tomjanovich in Houston and two seasons on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio.

The Kings have been in this position before and it breeds chaos. Switching coaches midstream rarely works out and it often leads to a massive downward spiral.

Since the departure of Rick Adelman following the 2005-06 season, Sacramento has pulled the plug on a coach in-season four times if you include both Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin during the 2014-15 campaign.

Replacements coaches, including Corbin, Kenny Natt, Keith Smart and George Karl finished a combined 49-126 over the stretch.

When you have a young roster, like both Chicago and Sacramento, stability is key. Hoiberg might not have been the answer, but the Bulls front office likely understood that coming into the year.

In bringing a new voice, Boylen is trying to push a second training camp on the players, this time in the middle of the season. He’s also attempting to communicate with an extremely young group and by the looks of things, he’s having trouble finding common ground.

The Kings come into Chicago at 13-12 and looking to finish their road trip at 3-1. Behind the coaching of Dave Joerger, the Kings have quickly developed an identity of their own this season, despite their inexperience as a group. Their focus has been on self-improvement over scheming for opponents.

Sacramento has no idea what kind of Bulls team will show up and they likely don’t care. So far this season they have put the blinders on to what is happening outside of the locker room.

Be it the team’s own drama surrounding clashes with the front office and the coaching staff or the expectations from NBA experts that had the team winning 25 games, the group seems unaffected by the noise.

The Bulls have talent. They should be better than 6-21 on the season. But the NBA is a tough business. Avoiding drama is a luxury Chicago doesn’t have and it will likely cost them dearly throughout the remaining three quarters of the season.

NBA rumors: Bulls players eyed boycott of coach Jim Boylen's practice


NBA rumors: Bulls players eyed boycott of coach Jim Boylen's practice

The Sacramento Kings know dysfunction when they see it, particularly after years of losing basketball and oddly timed personnel changes.

They’ll see it again Monday night, but this time, it will be from the 6-21 Chicago Bulls, their opponents, who are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Jim Boylen, the new Bulls coach in his first week after Fred Hoiberg’s firing, evidently isn’t too popular with his players. After coaching the Bulls through an embarrassing 56-point home loss to the Celtics on Saturday, he promised another grueling practice Sunday.

That sparked talk of something much more common in 18th-century navies than in the 21st-century NBA:


Take it away, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic ...

That grueling practice never took place Sunday because the Bulls players discussed a boycott of practice, multiple sources told The Athletic. Veteran players spent Saturday night trying to talk Boylen out of a Sunday session, sources said, and when their pleas were rejected, they began bouncing around other ideas in a team-wide group text.

The texts started Saturday night and carried into Sunday morning. One idea that had significant support, according to sources, was the players simply not showing up to the Advocate Center on Sunday. A preliminary plan was to gather at one player’s house and wait for the phones to begin buzzing. That plan fizzled because Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez spoke up, voicing their concerns about the unprofessionalism of that potential act of rebellion, as well as the impact such a stance could have on the roster’s younger, less established players, sources said.

Another idea discussed centered on players walking into the practice facility Sunday morning as a unified group before turning and immediately walking out.

In the end, players reported to work and rather than practice on the court or review Saturday night’s game in the film room, they held two meetings — one with players airing their grievances among themselves, followed by one with coaches entering the room to do the same with players.

The meetings began around noon. Just before 2 p.m., they were done.

What sounds done is Bulls players’ patience with Boylen, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant whom Mayberry noted cites Gregg Popovich’s tactics yet doesn’t have the legendary coach’s credibility. It’s Boylen’s first week on the job, so that’s no surprise.

There’s much more to this story, and we won’t recite every gritty detail here, but the Kings can take solace in the fact they won’t be the team dealing with coaching whispers and team-wide drama in this game.

You honestly couldn’t say that a few weeks ago, as rumors about Kings coach Dave Joerger’s future swirled. Winning is the best deodorant, though, and the 13-12 Kings should be smelling a victory over a down-in-the-dumps foe in Chicago.