One of the most frustrating feelings as a writer is reading an article written by someone else that touches on all of the things you’d been trying to get out onto your computer screen. This time, that writer was Kelly Dwyer. I was all set to write about DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and the Sacramento Kings and then I read Dwyer’s piece written yesterday for Ball Don’t Lie.

Despite Dwyer hitting home a few of the same things I’m about to say, I’ll continue on with the things on my mind in the wake of Cousins-Greene-Gate. While I don’t think anyone can support Cousins’ decision to go after his teammate after he disagreed with a play-making decision, I think it’s pretty important that we look at what’s going on in Sacramento. Maybe, more specifically, we should be looking at what’s not going on.

It’s pretty clear that the Sacramento Kings have made Tyreke Evans the face of their franchise. Can you blame them? He flourished last season as the Rookie of the Year and he is young and exciting and extremely talented. One issue that can come with having such a young superstar happens when a franchise forgets that he is a young man who still needs to be groomed into a leader and shaped into a professional. Start treating that rookie as though he’s earned more than he has and you’ll find yourself with a problem, particularly when you draft a headstrong young man the next season.

DeMarcus Cousins comes to the Kings with immense talent and potential. He also comes with some baggage that hasn’t yet been checked at the door. If he sees something he disagrees with, if he feels he isn’t being given the same respect as someone else, he’s probably going to let you know about it.

In this case, Cousins has issues with Evans. Really, anyone who has watched the Kings this season can tell you that he’s not entirely off-base when he shows his frustration at some of the shots and decision-making that has come from Evans this season. The problem is, basketball is a team sport and like your teammate or hate them, you don’t get to throw a tantrum and throw punches, fists or elbows at them when they don’t make the decision you want them to make. It doesn’t work like that.

Basketball also rarely works when a young star is given the kind of offensive leeway that Evans has been handed by his team, without also being handed the appropriate criticisms when necessary. In an article written last week by Sam Amick, Evans is quoted as saying, “We’re on the same page. He [Paul Westphal] knows when it’s time, when the game is on the line, give me the ball and (I’ll) try to make a play.”

He knows.

His coach knows when it’s crunch time to give him the ball. Yeesh. If it were a veteran like Kobe Bryant saying this, maybe it wouldn’t sound strange. Even a point guard like Rajon Rondo, known for making the right plays for his teammates, or Derrick Rose, with a reputation that’s growing by the game for being able to take over in crunch time, it wouldn’t sound odd. When it’s a young player like Evans who has had his share of miscues this season, it sounds off-putting.

As Amick pointed out, in the wake of Jerry Sloan stepping down amid rumors of a rift with star guard Deron Williams, it sounds almost as though the power struggle in Sacramento has been won by Evans and no one has challenged him. Not teammates. Not the coaching staff. No one. Until now.

His challenger is a yet-to-be proven rookie who has to prove to his organization that he can rein in the outbursts and harness his talent to become a great player in this league. His challenger has the support of veteran leader Francisco Garcia.

Here’s the thing that gets me about this whole situation. The unproven rookie picks a fight, starts a physical altercation with Donte Greene and was punished for it by his general manager. Call comes in to the team on the plane to take Cousins off of the plane and away from the team as punishment. Simple enough. Orders are followed, Cousins is removed. All is well.

Except it isn’t, because Garcia takes an offense to the decision to punish Cousins and he wants a different resolution. When the veteran on the team is standing up for the rookie, perhaps that rookie is speaking out about something that has been bothering more people on the team than just himself. If that’s the case, the Kings are in a mighty predicament.

Cousins was wrong for fighting with a teammate. He was wrong for overstepping his boundaries and acting as he did. Maybe, though, he was right in being angry with the way the team has handled Evans. And maybe when he acts out he’s also speaking up for some of his other teammates. Doesn’t make it right, does make it complicated.

We’ve seen how the LeBron treatment usually works out. Make a player out to be a King and he’s the one who gets to call checkmate.

Comments (25)

  1. Really well written. Compare them to Durant/Westbrook/Harden and it looks even worse.

  2. I know Evans is explosive and all that, but I just don’t see him as the #1 on a contending team. I don’t know what I’d do in this situation if I were a GM/coach, but I don’t think I’d be giving Evans as much leeway as he seemingly has been given. I think they have to take some control away from Evans, otherwise they’ll be stuck with a promising team in a few years as a result of Evans and some good young players, but that can’t get over the hump because of Evans.

  3. Well written and interesting take on the situation, but I’m left wondering about a few things. For one, Cousins went after Greene for not passing him the ball (and notably didn’t say anything to Evans). Yes, Cousins was mad that Evans took the shot, but would he have been just as upset if anyone else on the team had done the same? I’m sure Cousins wants the ball because he feels he gives the team the best chance to win (just like he felt he was the best player in the Draft), but my point is, as far as I’ve seen and read, there hasn’t been anything reported about a rift between Evans and Cousins.

    As for Garcia standing up for Cousins, that’s not surprising since he’s taken many of the team’s young players under his wing over the years and doesn’t want to see them get in trouble. He could’ve just been protecting the rookie from punishment, which he may as well have done had another player started the altercation.

  4. no one on the Kings is any good aside for Evans and Cousins, who are they suppose to pass the ball too? I agree with the lack of ball movement at the end of games, but no one can shoot from the outside or make any plays for themselves. Also the Garcia incident is speculation, not fact.

  5. @Joel: Both Sam Amick and Marc Spears reported that Garcia was not happy with the decision to remove Cousins from the plane.

    I wouldn’t have included that if I hadn’t read it in multiple reports. Found it interesting that despite Cousins starting the altercation, Garcia still sided with keeping Cousins on the plane.

    From Sam Amick’s Fanhouse report: It was a decision that was not popular with at least one member of the team, as one of the sources said veteran swingman Francisco Garcia argued vehemently for Cousins to remain on the plane before relenting when he was told his fight was futile.

    From Marc Spears’ Yahoo! report: After Westphal relayed Petrie’s orders, Cousins departed the plane. Kings guard Francisco Garcia(notes) was upset that Cousins had been sent home, one source said. Garcia had Cousins meet with him at the Kings’ practice facility on Thursday for a long talk about the rookie’s professionalism and how he can better live up to his potential to be one of the team’s top offensive options.

  6. I think the best solution for this team is for Evans to have that foot surgery he was talking about a month or so ago.. is that still on the table? He clearly doesn’t have the same explosiveness as last year and this team is going nowhere so why not just sit him and get healthy? I know it’s kind of ducking the issue but this is a clusterf*** they need to remove some variables from the equation in the short term.

  7. @ Holly MacKenzie The Kings announcer said it never happened. I would believe someone who was actually on the plane. agree to disagree.

  8. check his twitter @grantnapearshow. what else would he be talking about?

  9. Holly, you’ve obviously read some of the more exaggerated versions of what happened. Sam Amick and other “sources” were not on the plane nor were they in the lockerroom so while there was an altercation, the details of that are left in the lockerroom and on the team plane.
    This is what happens when writers who don’t cover the Kings or live in Sacramento rely on Twitter and the internet.
    Joel can back this up. Grant Napear is the voice of the Kings on tv and he addressed the situation over the weekend.
    Get your facts straight.

  10. I don’t know about this specific situation, but i do want to throw my two cents about the general way they have handled tyreke evans and demarcus cousins. I like evans a lot and have ever since his days at memphis, but I feel like the kings went way overboard when they started marketing him as their savior, put out that gaudy marketing campaign, and handed him the keys to the franchise before he proved he could ever lead them to anything more than the lottery. I’m not saying he can’t make them a winner, but you have to let players like this mature and learn how to win before marketing them as a superstar the way the kings have. They made the right call in drafting demarcus cousins, but they needed to have done their homework and known that he needs a strong support system and has to be surrounded by veterans and strong leaders. Instead he’s on a young team with a pushover coach and a star player who’s wonderful on the court but isn’t known as a duncan/kobe/durant type of leader. hopefully the kings can straighten it out because these two guys have ridiculous talent and could be a legit contender with the right moves, but they have to get a coach who comands more respect and improve the overall team chemistry/professionalism.

  11. @Joel @Steve: Fair enough. I have not read the announcer’s Twitter feed. I will say that Sam Amick has covered the Kings extensively for quite some time and if he has a source who told him Garcia disagreed with the decision, I believe it. As for relying on Twitter accounts and “the internet” I referenced two articles from two reputable sites, I did not reference a forum or the like. As you said, I guess we’ll agree to disagree on this one. Appreciate each of you giving your takes, though!

  12. Although I agree with many of your points about Tyreke and the state of the team I dont agree with your take on the Garcia situation. To say that this is somehow Garcia taking Cousins side against Tyreke, or that

    “When the veteran on the team is standing up for the rookie, perhaps that rookie is speaking out about something that has been bothering more people on the team than just himself. If that’s the case, the Kings are in a mighty predicament.”

    I agree with you far more that he justr wanted it to be handled internally in the locker room, but to to make that other statement although interesting is quite a leap. Perhaps that kind iof statement might be appropriate for a few guys having a beer but quite another for a journalist to put in print without giving us more than just your opinion on the matter. What else do you have that would support that statement?

  13. Very well written and well said.

    I was actually watching this game, and while I think the extent to which Cousins was actually open on the play is debatable, I cringed at Evans’ shot. I totally agree that based on what he has accomplished in the NBA and his less-than-stellar play this season, the Kings have put too many of their eggs in the Evans basket. He should absolutely be involved in big plays during crunch time, but he’s by no means worthy of the Kobe treatment on the final possession

  14. The paragraph about Garcia is purely based on speculation. That should not be in the article.

  15. @Jon and Joel: C’mon guys I live near Sacramento, am a rabid kings fan and Napear is a total tool who will say anything to kiss up to management, while Amick and Spears are tow of the most respected journalists in the business. Get a clue!

  16. And I’ll bet you my paycheck Garcia is tired of seeing Evans eff up the offense game after game.

  17. Friend of StR James Ham got a phone interview with Kings coach Paul Westphal after Tuesday night’s debacle in Oklahoma City. Westphal unloaded on the media and, ahem, blogs for misrepresenting the events of Saturday night, when DeMarcus Cousins reportedly had words and fists with Donte Greene and was later pulled off of the team plane as it prepared to depart for Phoenix.

    Here’s Westphal on what happened on the plane.

    What happened was, when Cisco [Francisco Garcia] saw that DeMarcus wasn’t on the plane, he went over by the security gate and said “what’s going on?” and he was told that because of the incident, DeMarcus wouldn’t be traveling with the team so he went over to DeMarcus and told him to hang in there.

    There was no confrontation, he was going over to DeMarcus to support his teammate. That’s all that happened. It’s just unbelievable that anything was made of that. You just wonder how the media or bloggers got a hold of anything and how it’s processed. It’s incredible that going over to your teammate, that’s not traveling, and telling him to hang in there, has now been turned into a mutiny.

  18. @ Dan i dont know what a tow is?

  19. come on guy, get a clue

  20. That’s Westphal doing his damage control and that’s fine but Amick and Spears didn’t report a “confrontation” they reported that Garcia wanted Cousins to make the trip. With all that’s going on with the Kings the last couple years they spring into damage control mode trying to sugarcoat everything, especially that slick huckster Napear. JHam usually does good work but this one just reeks of P.R. damage control. Get a clue.

  21. Great job nailing the Garcia speculation you amateur. Did you see the quote from Coach Westphal about what happened?

    “What happened was, when Cisco saw that DeMarcus wasn’t on the plane, he went over by the security gate and said “what’s going on?” and he was told that because of the incident, DeMarcus wouldn’t be traveling with the team so he went over to DeMarcus and told him to hang in there.

    There was no confrontation, he was going over to DeMarcus to support his teammate. That’s all that happened. It’s just unbelievable that anything was made of that. You just wonder how the media or bloggers got a hold of anything and how it’s processed. It’s incredible that going over to your teammate, that’s not traveling, and telling him to hang in there, has now been turned into a mutiny.

    Next time you want to speculate as to what things mean try to get your facts straight… Way to go amateur!

  22. @Danny You have very poor comprehensive skills. Amateur.

  23. Yeah yeah Alicia we already know what the company line is.

  24. Donte and Tyreke are on and Off court buddies . they got got each others back ( they connect with each other) . Now , here comes Demarcus … hes temperimental . what goes on his mind , he automatically lets it off him . for sure Cousins senses something together with his Quiet teamates . its been going for a while now . Thats why Cisco Garcia is chiding ( not to mention teamates) with Demarcus.

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