05 January 2012

Does the Westphal Firing Enable Cousins in Sacramento?

It hasn't been all peaches and green out in Sacramento and this isn't caused by the rumors that the club will move. What is causing the latest tension of late was the relationship between Kings coach Paul Westphal and their second-year center DeMarcus Cousins. The fact that Cousins reportedly requested a trade did not help matters. And so what does Kings brass do to try to solve the situation? They fire Westphal, which they did earlier today. Now while that's not really a fair statement considering the Kings have struggled over the last two seasons with no noticeable signs of improvement, the timing of the firing coupled with the timing of the most recent cause for stress between the coach and headcase center can lead most folks to connect the dots. So are the Kings enabling Cousins' behavior?
We knew that the Kings were not going to trade Cousins, or at least that it was presumed by me that people felt that. After all, Cousins is a true center with prodigious talent at a time when feared playmakers at centers are becoming extinct. But everybody knows about Cousins' attitude problems, they were evident in college, leading some teams to pass on him, and have been evident in the pros. He's caused much tension by his occasional relucatance to listen to coaches and his problems with teammates every now and again. For a guy that is only 21 years old and has all the talent in the world but is nowhere close to being the kind of star that you may accept some problems with. He's shown flashes and has been great in rebounding the ball but he's shooting 42 percent, which is levels you would expect from a guard but are much too low for a post player. But you don't give up on a talent like his this early in his career and the Kings knew it and I'm sure Cousins knew it when he asked for a trade, basically saying it's me or the coach. And the Kings are walking on a tightrope in which they could be appeasing Cousins and say they are willing to take his side over a coach and will accept his kind of behaviors.
Like I said before, the firing of Westphal in itself isn't surprising. He hasn't shown himself to be that great of a coach, other players have signaled problems with him and such. The problems in Sacramento also run deeper than Westphal, namely in a front office that hasn't made good moves in many years. But like what I pointed out, it's very hard to take the timing of this firing and not think the Cousins stuff was not involved.

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