HANG TIME, Texas — Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A priest, a rabbi and DeMarcus Cousins are sitting on a bench…
Yeah, it’s getting to be the kind of stale old joke that sounds like it came out of the Catskills in the 1950s.
Cousins is at the center of another flap. This time the Kings’ leading scorer and rebounder was left in the locker room at halftime Friday night following a verbal run-in with coach Keith Smart.
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee delivers the details that were available:
“It was conduct detrimental to the team and we left it at that,” Smart said without elaborating.
Smart did not say if Cousins would play Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I’m going to focus on (Friday night),” Smart said. “And then I’ll move forward to the next day.”
Cousins said he “was in the wrong” during halftime.
“What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room, but I was wrong,” Cousins said. “But what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”
Cousins then was asked what he could do to avoid further situations where attention was on his actions off the court.
“Don’t talk back,” Cousins said. “That’s the thing. I shouldn’t have responded back. Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet.”
Of course, nobody has ever questioned the raw talent and ability that Cousins possesses, only the maturity and professionalism that he doesn’t.
As a potential foundation-type player on the front line, it was understandable that Kings management sided with Cousins and gave Paul Westphal the ax when the two of them couldn’t get along.
There may also be legitimate reasons to question whether Smart (73-134 career record) has the right stuff to be a successful coach in the NBA. But the main reason he was brought in to replace Westphal and had his contract extended was because he could supposedly relate to Cousins and steer him correctly and now that plan seem to have jumped off the tracks.
Already this season, Cousins has been suspended two games for confronting Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott after a game, suspended another for whacking the Mavs’ O.J. Mayo in the groin and ejected in the third quarter of one more game for arguing calls by the refs. Now this.
More from Jones:
“We’re trying to set a standard for all of our players and all our guys who are here,” Smart said after the game. “When guys don’t fall in line to that we’ve got to move on.”
Smart intends to maintain this stance, too. You have to assume that means penalties will escalate if the behavior does not change.
Smart wouldn’t address whether Cousins would play in Sunday’s game against Portland. If he does, another blowup could mean suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team.
Cousins doesn’t believe Friday’s incident will be held over his head and that he and Smart can move past the incident.
“It happens all the time between players and coaches,” Cousins said. “I believe we’ll talk about it, get past it and we’ll move forward.”
Cousins can only hope. All of these shenanigans are overlooked if he were delivering like the punchline in the Kings’ lineup. But after a breakout season a year ago, Cousins has not only reverted to troublesome form with his behavior, but his play has deteriorated as well, not concentrating on defense and taking far too many bad shots.
Could Cousins simply be tiring of the losing atmosphere in Sacramento and trying to force the Kings to ship him out of town?
We can only assume that he knows the rest of the NBA gets LeaguePass. The offers coming in at this point for a mediocre malcontent would hardly make the Kings want to jump at this point.
So DeMarcus Cousins walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder…
You’d think at 22, he’d be too young to become an old joke.