The two-game suspension handed down to DeMarcus Cousins from the NBA for confronting a broadcaster is too severe, no matter how wrong the act is and how emotionally unhinged one would have to be to do such a thing.
His Kings teammate, Thomas Robinson, got the same penalty three days earlier for something far worse, an intentional elbow to the neck of Piston Jonas Jerebko, but Robinson doesn’t have the same history. Cousins’ past clearly came into consideration here.
But sitting two games for, as the league said Sunday in announcing the discipline, “confronting Spurs announcer Sean Elliott in a hostile manner” Friday in Sacramento, is among the least of the problems for Cousins. The big picture is worse than missing Sunday night against the Lakers, a 103-90 win for L.A. as Dwight Howard hit the shrunken Kings for 23 points and 18 rebounds, and now Tuesday against the Trail Blazers back in Northern California.
- Opponents will dig harder than before to flick at Cousins’ nerve endings. They know their chances are as good as ever, even with Cousins as a 22-year-old in his third season (and who no longer has inexperience as an acceptable excuse) at taking one of the talented young bigs of the league out of his game. Look at how flustered he became at comments on the Spurs telecast from Elliott, a man who has zero impact on anything on the court. Of course they’re going to try to get Cousins in touch with his combustible side as often as possible.
- How unable is a player to control his emotions if he leaves the locker room in uniform after the game and walks about 30 yards to confront a broadcaster? The specifics of what Cousins said to Elliott remain unclear, with Elliott himself decling to comment, according to the San Antonio Express News, and Cousins apparently unavailable for an explanation. But if Cousins had anything beyond “All the best to you and the family for a delightful holiday weekend,” he was 29 yards too close.
- The league office is watching. Not that Cousins was out of sight before, with two prior suspensions by the Kings, but the New York sheriffs are involved now. He has a history. He had the second-most technicals in the league last season, behind only OKC’s Kendrick Perkins, and is tied for second in the opening weeks of this one. The exact offense that would cost a first-time offender a single game could be worth two or three to Cousins the next time. The past matters.
- And, the same question as always: Will Cousins ever manage to harness his energy to reach his potential? That’s real big-picture, but also fair considering he is at the foundation of the plan to lead the Kings back to respectability. As coach Keith Smart told the Sacramento Bee, “When you make mistakes that affect not just you, it affects our entire team.”
This is also a big setback to whatever claims Cousins or the Kings make about his improving maturity. Players get suspended for actions on the court, usually for a fight or crossing the line with a referee or a flagrant foul. They don’t often get suspended because of what a television analyst said. Cousins, a center with All-Star talent, needs to be better than that. Now more than ever.