Kings suspend Cousins for conduct detrimental to team


Kings suspend Cousins for conduct detrimental to team

Vlade Divac and the Sacramento Kings have put their foot down. The team announced Thursday that All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team after berating head coach George Karl.

The latest incident between coach and player occurred during the the Kings' 120-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Video was captured of Cousins yelling at the 64-year-old Karl during a timeout.

At one point Rudy Gay and assistant coach Corliss Williamson tried to intervene, and finally point guard Rajon Rondo stepped in between the two as they both sat in a team huddle on the sidelines.

The Kings are mired in a tough stretch over which the team has gone just 1-7 and watch their playoff hopes fade. Tension has been high as the Kings head towards their 10th straight lottery season. Cousins picked up his 15th technical foul during the game for arguing a call and he was in no mood to talk after the game.

This suspension comes on the heels of Karl informing the media late Wednesday that he will miss Thursday’s practice due to a cancer related procedure.

Kings back in playoffs? Buddy Hield ready to bet his house on it

Kings back in playoffs? Buddy Hield ready to bet his house on it

SACRAMENTO -- 25 games. In the NBA, it can be an eternity, especially when winning no longer matters to a team.

For the last 12 seasons, that is what the stretch run has been for the Kings. In fact, in most years losses were much more value to Sacramento than wins. That is an unfortunate reality of the NBA’s lottery system.

That mentality corrodes a franchise from the inside and it often takes years of work to scrub that idea from the walls of the locker room.

This is one of the reasons why the Kings didn’t give in to the chase for ping pong balls last season. Sure, they sat veterans to develop young talent, but coach Dave Joerger and his staff refused to give in to the culture of losing.

Plenty of teams around the league were tanking down the stretch, but the Kings set their sights on playing spoilers. They finished 9-12 over their final 21 games, which was good enough to push them all the way down to the seventh spot in the draft lottery.

The Kings’ focus on building a winning culture didn’t hurt them in the draft. Good basketball karma and a little lotto luck landed the Kings at No. 2, where they selected Marvin Bagley III.

Early this season, the Kings continued to build from their experience last year. They got off to a surprising start and with 25 games remaining, the team sits at 30-27 and just a game out of the eight seed in the Western Conference playoff chase.

“With us, we’ve just got to stay focused,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Sacramento hasn’t played too many games after the break that actually mean something for ourselves. Instead of playing spoiler, we’re actually trying to get in the playoffs.”

Even if the Kings make the playoffs, they’ll likely matchup against a team like the Golden State Warriors or Denver Nuggets in the first round. They’ve failed to pick up a win against either team so far this season and would likely be massive underdogs coming into the postseason.

With that in mind, why does fighting for a playoff spot matter?

It’s pretty simple. The intensity of a playoff race raises the level of competition, and making the postseason gives the team a taste of something more.

“It can mean everything,” Harrison Barnes said Wednesday evening. “I remember my first year, just making the playoffs with that group, kind of what that did for everybody. Having that collective hunger. Seeing what it’s like playing against elite level teams.”

It’s going to be a battle down the stretch. The team is trying to take it one game at a time, but the players openly admit to watching the standings every night. They know where they are and what it will likely take to make it to the playoffs.

“Now they can really grow up,” Vlade Divac told NBC Sports California. “It’s a great way of developing their game. That experience is priceless and I think that’s why we’re all so excited right now, to be in that race.”

The Kings haven’t made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. The drought is the longest current streak in the league, something the players understand very well.

Fans have shown up in droves all season long to cheer on the upstart Kings, and the team has responded with a 19-11 record at Golden 1 Center.

“For this organization, the fans, the city, I think it would be great to get back there and just feel that energy,” Buddy Hield told NBC Sports California. “I think it would be good for us and we feed off that.”

It’s going to be a battle down the stretch. The Kings are in one of the tougher grouping of games in their schedule. After falling in a heartbreaker to the Nuggets, the Kings face the Warriors, Thunder, Timberwolves, Bucks and Clippers over the next five games.

They’ll have an opportunity to pick up some games in the month of March, but night in and night out, it’s going to be a battle.

“You look at the west right now, everyone’s vying for a spot, everyone is vying for position,” Barnes said. “Every game means something. I think for us, everything comes back to us focusing on what we can control.”

It’s a confident group. They’ve defied the odds makers all season and they believe they can fight through and be there in the end.

[RELATED: How Kings went from NBA playoffs in 2006 to possible return in 2019]

Buddy Hield is so positive in the team’s chances, he was willing to place a bet on it following practice on Wednesday evening, although it came with a caveat.

"Very confident. I'd bet my house on it... I mean, I make a lot of money to buy the next one," the third-year guard said.

It’s going to be an interesting final seven weeks of the season for the Kings. For the first time in over a decade, the Kings are in the race. Whether they finish the season with a postseason berth or not, they’re building something in Sacramento.

How Kings went from NBA playoffs in 2006 to possible return in 2019


How Kings went from NBA playoffs in 2006 to possible return in 2019

The golden age of Kings basketball began in the strike-shortened 1998 season, with Geoff Petrie using every option at his disposal to build something special.

It all began with the hiring of coach Rick Adelman. After landing his longtime friend and former teammate, Petrie set his sights on rebuilding a franchise that had very limited success since moving to Sacramento before the 1985-86 season.

Petrie’s first move was to trade for talented but underachieving Chris Webber in May 1998. He followed that move with a series of transactions that set the Kings on a new path.

In that elongated offseason, Petrie drafted Jason Williams; talked Vlade Divac, Jon Berry and Vernon Maxwell into signing as free agents; grabbed Scot Pollard off the scrap heap and brought Peja Stojakovic over from Europe.

It was a complex grouping of moves that led to eight years of beautiful basketball. Not every transaction was for the long term. Petrie morphed the roster year by year to stay competitive, culminating in one final playoff run during the 2005-06 season.

Only one player remained from the original squad when the '05-06 season began, but even he wouldn’t make it through the season. After setting the career mark for most games played in a Sacramento uniform, Stojakovic was dealt to the Indiana Pacers for Ron Artest.

It was Petrie’s last ditch effort to keep the run alive, and like so many other moves by the former Princeton star, it worked out one last time.

When Petrie traded for Artest, the Kings were just 17-24 on the season. They went to win that night in a double-overtime thriller over the New York Knicks, despite playing short-handed.

In his final hurrah as Kings coach, Adelman pieced together an incredible second half run. Led by Artest and a bizarre mix, Adelman’s group went 27-14 after the trade to finish the season 44-37.

Sacramento squeezed into the playoffs as the eighth seed. Led by Bonzi Wells’ incredible play and strong performances from Artest, Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Brad Miller and second-year guard Kevin Martin, the Kings gave the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs all they could handle in a wild six-game series.

In a dispute with ownership, Adelman walked away following the season, joining the Houston Rockets over the summer of 2006 where he pushed his personal playoff streak to 10 in a row.

His departure marked the end of an incredible run for Sacramento. The franchise hasn’t made it back to the playoffs since, a stretch of 12 seasons coming into this one.

When it all falls down

It all fell apart quickly for the Kings. Wells turned down a massive contract extension offer from Petrie over the summer and was out of the league two years later. Bibby was dealt at the '07-08 trade deadline, and the Artest experiment lasted another two seasons in Sacramento before he was shipped to Houston.

Petrie continued to gamble on mid-level players trying to keep the run going, but without Adelman running the squad, the team fell to 33 wins in '06-07 under Eric Musselman. Reggie Theus took over the team for the '07-08 season, posting 38 wins, but he was replaced in his second season after compiling a 6-18 record to start the year.

Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin and George Karl all held the head coach position in Sacramento before the team finally settled in on Dave Joerger before the '16-17 season.

Where are they now?

All remnants are gone from the '05-06 season.

The Maloof family sold its ownership stake to Vivek Ranadivé following the '12-13 season. Petrie was replaced by Pete D’Alesandro before the 2013 NBA Draft and hasn’t returned to the game since.

Not a single player from the team still is in the league, although a few of them make their way through Sacramento on occasion.

Stojakovic currently works as an assistant general manager for the Kings under Divac. He’s part of the group that’s helped revitalize the franchise.

Miller can be seen sitting courtside a few times per year wearing his signature Chicago Cubs hat. Kenny Thomas is a restaurateur in the revitalized area surrounding Golden 1 Center.

Bibby has found success coaching high school basketball in Arizona. Corliss Williamson is on the coaching staff of the Phoenix Suns, and Vitaly Potapenko is an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After a stint in the Kings' front office and stops in Atlanta and with the NBA, Abdur-Rahim is the president of the G League.

Artest, who repeatedly has changed his name, now goes by Metta World Peace and works as a development coach for the South Bay Lakers of the G League.

Wells has had struggles with heart issues, but he can be seen playing in the Big3.

Martin retired as a Spur following the 2015-16 season at just 32 years old and, like former teammate Francisco Garcia, has laid low in his post-basketball life.

Even Adelman stepped away from the game following an incredible 23-year career as an NBA coach following the 2013-14 season. He tallied a career 1,042-749 record in stops in Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota.

Push for the playoffs

It’s been a brutal 12-season stretch for the Kings. Theus' 38 wins is the pinnacle, with a low of 17 wins coming the following season. Including this season, the team is just 366-659 (35.7 win percentage) since the '05-06, and it hasn't even come close to a playoff berth.

With the team sitting at 30-27 coming out of the All-Star break, and just one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, there is a renewed hope for the future in Sacramento.

This might be the squad to break the dubious streak and move the Kings into a new era of success. Unlike Petrie’s renditions, this is a team filled with top-tier draft picks and a light sprinkling of veterans.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break]

Divac's decisions to add Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks at the deadline tell the team and everyone involved that the franchise is focused on one objective -- winning.

If anything, these Kings have the feel of a team on the rise, not some mystical group plucked from the sky like the '98-99 squad, and certainly unlike the one taped together for one last run like in '05-06.