George Karl on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page”
LAS VEGAS — That’s it right there. George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins finally met and shook hands.
That Vine is also the extent of the meeting. It didn’t last long.
But Kings’ coach George Karl — who Cousins has tweeted is a snake in the grass (via emoji) after it was reported Karl was pushing to trade Cousins — sounded like a veteran coach who is not worried about repairing that relationship, or what is said in July.
“We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page,” Karl said just after the Kings played in Las Vegas Monday. “Summer talk is summer drama. I’ve always thought it’s hype, and so much of it is untrue. I’m not going to get into it, but Cuz and I have to work together to get back together. And I think we will.”
Cousins has power here. His biggest supporter is the owner, and when Cousins walked in the arena Sunday with GM Vlade Divac he got a standing ovation from Kings fans. Karl realizes that this is a relationship he has to make work. He emphasized what he has before, that it is about commitment.
“All our guys are hungry for winning, but Cuz is our best player, most talented kid,” Karl said. “We need him to feel like there’s a commitment from both sides. He to us and us to him.”
Karl has a locker room of strong-willed players he needs to navigate this year — Rajon Rondo, Cousins, and Rudy Gay among them. But he noted that in the past he has coached Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson, and Chauncey Billups. And he likes the challenge Rondo will provide.
“He’s a very basketball high IQ guy,” Karl said. “He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on. But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.
“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers...
“I think it’s going to be fun coaching (Rondo). I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustible, but that also can work at a high level.”
That may sum up the Kings this year. It’s a combustible combination, but if they come together they could surprise a lot of people.
We’ll see how good Karl is at chemistry. But that grade is not handed out in July.