Hey, remember last week when we said the Sacramento Kings finally appeared to be making some smart decisions? Apparently we jumped the gun a bit on that one. That is if there’s any truth to a late Monday night Woj Bomb from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. After multiple public denials from the Kings front office regarding a trade of star center DeMarcus Cousins, Woj countered with a report that head coach George Karl is the one leading the charge to get Boogie out of town:
Karl has been recruiting Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and multiple players on the Kings’ roster to unite with him in making the case to owner Vivek Ranadive that Cousins needs to be traded, league sources said.
Since the end of the 2014-15 season, Cousins has become aware of Karl’s campaign to move him – including teammates telling Cousins, sources said. All around the Kings and Cousins, there is a growing belief the coach-player relationship is irreparable. Trust is a constant theme with Cousins, and he’s been unable to build any with Karl, sources said.
Divac is on record as saying the team isn’t shopping Cousins, so perhaps his loyalties still lie with owner Vivek Ranadive (I mean, Ranadive did give him a front office job based on literally no experience). Ranadive is reportedly the biggest Cousins cheerleader there is, and it seems he and Karl disagree on the center’s future with the franchise:
Ranadive has remained the biggest Kings advocate for holding onto Cousins, and several sources indicate he has become irritated with Karl’s insistence that the coach doesn’t believe he can manage the supremely skilled and strong-minded star. Cousins has held a firm loyalty to former Kings coach Michael Malone, whom Ranadive fired shortly into last season. Under Karl, that relationship couldn’t begin to be duplicated in the final weeks of the season.
Meanwhile, less than one hour after Woj’s article hit the Internet, Cousins tweeted what is apparently a common sentiment among players who played under Karl.
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 23, 2015
We’re probably headed towards one of the following public relations disasters: either Cousins leaves town, or Karl leaves town. The easier choice is to fire Karl, but then the Kings would be tasked with hiring a sixth head coach in the Boogie Era (for those of you keeping track at home, we’re heading into Year 7). Even then, while Cousins might be content with Karl being gone, the team still runs the risk of hiring yet another coach he won’t mesh with.
On the flip side, if they trade Cousins — a franchise cornerstone and Top 10-15 player in the league — the goodwill built up after saving the team from relocation, along with construction on a new arena, will continue to erode (the ball really started rolling with the firing of Mike Malone, a known Boogie fave).
Regardless of how this gets resolved, it should be noted that Karl found his greatest success (and, to be fair, biggest failures) in Seattle, coaching one of the most difficult superstars in NBA history in Gary Payton. The two butted heads early and often in Karl’s tenure, but eventually reached an understanding with each other, and it led to some of the best years in Sonics history. I always assumed if those two could get along, any coach-superstar combo involving Karl could figure it out.