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Kings no longer have DeMarcus Cousins to blame for dysfunction

Kings no longer have DeMarcus Cousins to blame for dysfunction

NEW ORLEANS – Now that DeMarcus Cousins is finally gone from the Sacramento Kings, after six-plus long years of failure and acrimony, it’s all on them to prove that the three-time All-Star dubbed “Bad Attitude” was the problem.

In typical Kings fashion, they upstaged the All-Star Game itself Sunday by executing a trade to send Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and a first- and second-round draft pick.

This came after repeated assurances that they were sticking with Cousins, and after the roster moves made going into season to put established veterans around him represented some sort of direction. So the Kings' front office, showing the same lack of impulse control that Cousins has with game officials, opted to tear up the blueprint yet again.

Monday, GM Vlade Divac said this at a news conference that made the deal official: “It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization. Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward."

The thinly veiled shot at Cousins lacking proper character aside, Divac is going to have a difficult time spinning this into a positive. While what he said might be true, it doesn't appear to be a good return for a known quantity in Cousins, who is averaging a career-high 29.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and a career-high 5.1 assists. For this deal to work out in the Kings' favor, it requires good decision-making from a front office that seems immune to sound judgments.

Do lottery picks Thomas Robinson, Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein or Jimmer Fredette ring a bell?

What about draft steals they stumbled into only to flub up in Hassan Whiteside (2010 second-round pick, waived 2012); Isaiah Thomas (2011 second-round pick, traded 2014 for Alex Oriakhi); or Bismack Biyombo (2011 lottery pick swapped for Fredette and John Salmons)

Cousins had eye-popping numbers, but there were drawbacks such as 45.1% field-goal shooting for a 6-11 big man -- at least 10 points below where it should be -- and just a 24-33 record to show for it.  Defensively, Cousins' effort alone leaves much to be desired. But ever since Cousins was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft, this marriage hasn’t worked for reasons beyond his control, too.

[RELATED: Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins]

Given where the Pelicans (23-34) are, this move represents a no-lose situation for them though it comes with a risk if they're not able to re-sign Cousins in 2018. They landed another All-Star to play next to Anthony Davis and were able to keep point guard Jrue Holiday in the process.

Cousins’ value around the NBA clearly wasn’t as high as most people liked to have believed. And the Kings’ bad roster decisions, trades (see how former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie fleeced them in the Stauskas deal), coaching hires and handling of Cousins had as much to do with his decreasing value as Cousins himself. They undermined their own leverage with him in the market. They contradicted themselves privately and publicly and even outright lied about their commitment to Cousins.

Owner Vivek Ranadive loves Hield as much as he did Stauskas which should be a caution flag. Ranadive is like George Costanza. Whatever his instincts tell him he should do, the correct decision is always the opposite. 

The Kings tried to trade up to acquire Hield last year before New Orleans nabbed him with the No. 6 pick. He averages just 8.6 points and shoots 39.2% from three-point range. 

Stauskas was the No. 8 overall pick of the Kings in 2014. He lasted one season before Ranadive, who made the pick, got bored of him and sent him on his way. Stauskas is now with the Philadelphia 76ers with a career average of 7.1 points and 34.1% shooting from three.

It's difficult to be optimistic about anything that the Kings do. They waived Matt Barnes to facilitate the deal to gt Hield and Evans. And truth be told, despite Barnes' public perception he's regarded as a great teammate and locker room influence by other respected veterans in the league.

Now Cousins has a chance to put another nail in the coffin of the Kings under the Ranadive-Divac regime and prove he wasn't the primary problem. They'll have no one to blame anymore, except each other.

And that means Divac will be the next to go. If Ranadive wants a real GM running his organization, he should give Hinkie a call so he can learn that he's far from the smartest guy in the room. 

He might even learn how to run a respectable NBA franchise for a change. Divac is correct in that character does matter. This Kings front office simply doesn't have any.

[RELATED: John Wall reacts to DeMarcus Cousins' trade]

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

The NBA now has a concrete plan to return to action, but there are still obstacles that will need solving when play resumes. One of the most important will be the health and safety of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the league will need to know how to handle the possibility of a positive COVID-19 virus diagnosis. With a large number of individuals destined to be in close proximity in Orlando, could one player testing positive derail the entire plan? Would that team then have to be eliminated due to the potential risk they carry?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that will not be the case.

“The answer is we don’t believe we would need to," Silver told Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA, referring to the idea of having to eliminate a team due to a positive coronavirus result.

Silver's confidence stems from the vast amount of research and preparation the league has done to get to this stage in the return process. Not only have NBA officials detailed plans of action, but SIlver and others are working closely with health experts in Florida to make sure things go smoothly.

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Based on what they've heard so far, one positive test won't be the end-all for the NBA. If a player were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the league knows the exact procedure to keep others safe.

“The view is that if we are testing every day and we are able to trace, in essence, the contacts the player has had," Silver said. "We are able to, in essence, contain that player and separate that from his team.”

The commissioner explained that the NBA is continuing to test on a daily basis, and that won't change anytime soon. The threat of coronavirus impacting the league's return is strong, but Silver and the NBA are confident that they'll be able to overcome any issues and have the season play out in a safe manner.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

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