The biggest news story of the year for the Sacramento Kings wasn’t three coaches in one season. It wasn’t meningitis or DeMarcus Cousins making his first All-Star team. It was a late-season, off-the-cuff comment from head coach George Karl that went viral.
“I’ve had some great players and I’ve never had one player that I have said is untradeable,” Karl told the Sacramento media. “You always got to be ready for the possibility of a great trade that could come your way.”
Intended or not, the statement by Karl was a shot across the bow of Cousins and got the rumor mill churning. With two sentences, Karl put himself on the hot seat after just two months on the job and set the Kings PR team scrambling.
The story of discontent grew throughout the summer. Constant rumors that Karl was working behind the scenes to deal his most talented player flooded the internet. The story took on a life of its own.
There may have been the threat of a firing. There may also have been a trade demand, but the real story will never completely see the light of day. What we do know is that there was a summit in Las Vegas that included Karl, Cousin, GM Vlade Divac and Assistant GM Mike Bratz. The result of the meeting was a commitment to Sacramento by all.
During media day, Karl opened up to CSN’s Kayte Christensen and addressed the situation directly. For the first time in public, Karl gave a mea culpa that went largely unnoticed.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
Many words have been written on the subject of Cousins and Karl and most of them are based off the belief that they were a doomed match to start.
But as we head towards the 2015-16 season, George Karl is the head coach of a newly revamped Kings team that is anchored by none other than DeMarcus Cousins. So far, the duo is saying all the right things.
Karl would love to see more positivity from his young star, but he knows from personal experience how hard it is to change. And despite the apology, Karl isn’t going to change his approach to handling his players.
“I think DeMarcus has to make a commitment just to not allow frustrations to cause a disruption in the game,” Karl said earlier this week. “I don’t like negative emotion in a game. I think it’s a sign of frustration, it’s a sign of we’re losing. If there is any emotion in a game, it should be positive.”
“We gave away too many possessions that cheapen the game because of our emotional outbursts,” Karl added. “You can’t do that. You can’t ruin the game because you get emotionally frustrated.”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl is a work in progress. There is likely to be more bumps in the road for the two, but at least for now, we have a truce and place to build from.