Karl, Cousins remain work in progress

VIDEO: Kings coach George Karl talks the team’s off-season.

LAS VEGAS — The good news is they remain on the same team. The bad news is they’re not yet on the same page. Welcome to the world of the Sacramento Kings and life with their head coach and franchise player, who are stuck with each other, for better or worse, at least for the moment.

George Karl wouldn’t discuss the state of his relationship with DeMarcus Cousins — “I’m not authorized to speak about that,” he said on the first day of the Samsung NBA Summer League — which means the mending remains a work in progress. The hectic summer in Sacramento turned loopy when Cousins used a snake-in-the-grass emoji on Twitter last month to characterize Karl as disloyal and distrustful. Cousins, according to those close to him, is charging Karl of trying to get him traded and has refused to speak with Karl. That in turn raised the issue of whether Karl and not Cousins would be shipped out of town. It became a big mess and it doesn’t appear the two have a working relationship or that it’ll be settled soon if ever.

Both are notoriously stubborn, which makes you wonder if Karl or Cousins are willing or even able to patch things up. Karl has had disagreements with players before, yet managed to win games (though not a championship). Cousins has rubbed his previous coaches raw, and hasn’t won anything. Karl wanted to change the culture when he arrived in the middle of last season and his methods obviously didn’t sit well with Cousins. And five months later, here they are.

Both have put Vlade Divac, the Kings’ new general manager, in a tight spot, if not in the role of peace maker and referee. Divac was coy when asked about their relationship.

“Every day it’s getting better,” he said.

That’s it?

“That’s it.”

Clearly, Divac is siding with Cousins if only because there aren’t many centers averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds and with Cousins’ skill set. Although troubled in the past by his lack of maturity and fragile temper — Cousins has led all players in technical fouls over the last 3 years — Cousins made strides over the last season to reduce his disruptive tendencies. Making Team USA last summer and then the All-Star team have sedated him, made him more coachable, although some of his sharp edges remain.

Sensing a desperate franchise led by a first-time GM, plenty of teams tried to get Cousins by offering 50 centers on the dollar this summer once the Karl-Cousins relationship took another wicked turn, and wisely, Divac didn’t bite.

“He’s a great kid with great potential and I”m happy to work with him,” Divac said. “There’s nothing out there that would make me pull the trigger.”

And what about the status of Karl, who has three years left on his contract? Curiously Divac shrugged his way through his response.

“Well, we’ll see. He has to win the games. He’s a coach who brings a lot of experience. He knows how to fix things, so we’ll see.”

Divac would prefer that Karl be the adult in this situation because, well, that’s his job. Also, Divac didn’t hire Karl, who was chosen by Pete D’Alessandro, who then lost his job to Divac. In the ideal Kings world, Karl and Cousins would break bread — and not over each other’s head — and call a truce sometime this summer. There’s too much at stake for the Kings in their development for something to go wrong next season and force the franchise to take a step backward, Already, bringing Rajon Rondo to this situation is being met with snickers from around the league; Rondo clashed with Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle, a pair of coaches with NBA titles, how will he cope with Karl?

“He will help us,” Divac said. “I have confidence in him.”

But the real issue is Karl and Cousins. More and more, this appears to be a carbon copy of Chris Webber vs. Don Nelson two decades ago. The star player and veteran coach refused to seek a common ground and their feud changed the direction of a franchise. The Warriors traded Webber and soon began a sad, cursed stretch that lasted almost 15 years.



  1. Ms. Penny says:

    I see why the ex-GM was let go. This is a mess he created and now gone. They should’ve let the ex-GM stay around long enough to clean-up this mess!

    George Karl knew of the personality he was going to be dealing with, and it’s no secret. He can’t come there making demands on who to trade. You have the right to quit if you can’t handle the job. When they said Karl got the job, I just knew this wasn’t going to work. Sacramento should’ve hired someone like Scotty Brooks, he knows how to get the most out of stars. I can’t blame it all on Cousins either, because if you know your coach is trying to get you traded, it does leave a bad taste in your mouth.

    I say now that someone has to go. Why? You don’t want to go in the season with all this mess going on. Then, when drama explodes, then you have to reset over again with losing the coach or star in the regular season and you will be doomed to make the playoffs. So, just handle your business and bounce coach and keep it moving. Coaches are a dime a dozen and Big men aren’t. So, it’s an easy choice for me, but if I were Divac you have to know that you aren’t going nowhere with this drama, and your job will be on the line if they don’t at least make the playoffs. So, Bounce coach Now, don’t wait for the fireworks during regular season!

  2. justsayin says:

    If Karl leaves, they could make a play for Thibideau.

  3. KingdomMan says:

    What the hell are the Sacramento Clowns doing? The owner needs to keep his mouth closed for sure and let Divac build a decent culture. It’s a balancing act with Cousins: you can’t acquiesce to him but why alienate him at all? Karl needs to each out to DMC WITH Divac so there can be no splitting of the team.

  4. joel says:

    George is past his time..he messed up 2 possible championships for seattle and has never taken another team far into the playoffs..like his’mentor’ don nelson he is a stubborn grudge holding coach who has no ability to communicate with players other than his favorite ‘old veterans…’ send the guy down the road..give him his walking papers..hand him his pink slip..as vince McMahon says ‘YOURE FIRED’…no one will miss him…vlade divac can get on the same train out of town…

    • sports fan says:

      You’re out of your mind. Karl took a Denver squad with a young Carmelo to the playoffs and came really close to beating the Lakers. After Carmelo left he then took that squad, with no superstars, to the playoffs. After which he was let go, go figure. That team has never been the same since and that shows how good of a coach he is. As far as allstars &/or superstars go the 3 guys hardest to coach are Rondo, Carmelo, & Cousins. Karl has had to deal with 2 of them.

  5. check your head says:

    Boogie’s got to realize that if he wants to win, he’s going to have to get over himself and be part of a team. . . And that means falling in line and being led by the coaching staff. There is no one man show in this league that wins it all. Just ask Kobe and Lebron, who haven’t won anything without a sound coaching philosophy, a clear chain of command, and the right talent around them. Kobe had Shaq, Horry, etc. Lebron had Bosh and Wade. One superstar cannot get it done in a league of superstars. Teams that know their limits, play as a team, and buy into the coaching philosophy win. Everybody else loses. Period.

  6. jimjule says:

    Sacramento won’t make the playoffs, period. Cousins has talent, but not the smarts to lead a team. He has to learn to submit to the guidance of his coaches who want to win too. Coaches have the knowledge and Cousins he has the talent. When knowledge and talent are at odds it spells disaster. Until Cousins learns to listen to his coaches he’ll just be a pretty good player. As it is now he doesn’t have the maturity to reach his full potential. If I was the coach I would try and trade him too. He’s a locker room problem who hasn’t gotten along with any of his coaches. I think if he were traded to the Lakers there would be a war between him and Kobe. That would be some interesting fireworks.

  7. Chris says:

    Let’s see them get to the conference finals then we can talk about Chris Webber and those Kings teams

  8. s@gitt@rius says:

    c’mon, give boogie to the lakers for hibbert and clarkson/randle.