I don’t think that you’re a “headcase” just because you get emotional about something, but if you already find such a derogatory label sticking, you do yourself no favors by arguing so vehemently that your team is forced to suspend you.
That’s precisely the situation that DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings finds himself in. According to Sam Amick, the Kings suspended Cousins for their trip to Phoenix to play the Suns on Sunday night, and most likely for the Kings’ entire three game road trip. He will not travel with the team – in fact, he was already on the plane preparing to depart for Phoenix when he was told to disembark. Francisco Garcia purportedly argued against the decision, to no avail.
Apparently Cousins’ frustrations have grown recently over guard Tyreke Evans’ late-game decision making and the lack of criticism of said miscues by the Kings coaching staff. A poor decision by Evans (who missed a three-pointer with the Kings down only two on a play where Cousins believed he was open) in the final seconds of a loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday evening was the catalyst for an altercation between Cousins and Donte Greene in the home locker room after the game; the two had to be separated after both taking swings. On twitter, the blame as the game ended seemed to fall on Paul Westphal for a poorly designed play; clearly, Cousins agrees that the coaching staff deserves criticism, and has for some time, if only in their handling of Evans.
While it’s unfortunate that one of the more talented young big men in the game is having such periphery issues, the suspension should come as a boon to the Suns. After defeating the Jazz on Friday night in new Utah coach Ty Corbin’s debut, the Suns sit a game above .500 at 26-25 and in need of every possible victory as they aim to secure a playoff berth. The Suns are currently tenth in the Western Conference, two games behind Portland for the eighth seed and three games behind Utah for the seventh (Memphis, the ninth seed, is currently two games behind the Blazers in the loss column). In such a heated battle for the playoffs, the Suns will look to take advantage of the loss of one of the Kings’ most important players.
Cousins has a slightly below-average PER, but he has shown glimpses throughout the year of a powerful, athletic post player capable of finishing strong at the rim and adept at interior passing. With Cousins out, the Kings will likely see an increase in playing time for Donte Greene and Jason Thompson, who average 16.6 and 21.6 minutes per game, respectively, on the season. Cousins is the team’s leading scorer per 36 minutes (second per game), has the second highest offensive rating, and ties for the team lead in defensive win shares. He is also second on the team in total rebound rate.
Cousins’ absence should open up the post for Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat, as well as allow the Suns to play a smaller lineup with Warrick at the 4 and Pietrus at the 3 if needed for defense. While no game is a gimme in the NBA, facing a Sacramento team without its impressive rookie that’s on the second night of a back-to-back (and traveling to Phoenix tonight) should serve the Suns well as they drive toward the playoffs.