SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was sent home for a New Year’s Day game after demanding to be traded away from Sacramento, according to head coach Paul Westphal.
In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Westphal said he told Cousins to stay home for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets after continued conflict led to the ultimatum.
“When a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely,” Westphal said.
Despite a home opener win against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings have lost three straight, including an ugly loss New Years Eve against the Knicks, where Knicks rookie center Josh Harrellson outplayed Cousins — a former teammate at Kentucky — in a 114-92 rout.
Cousins’ agent, John Greig, says he “has no idea what the Kings are doing” and didn’t know the team excused him from Sunday’s game until Westphal’s announcement. In a phone interview with CBS13, Greig suggested “maybe they [the Kings] want to trade him and make the fans think it’s his fault.”
Many of Cousins’ teammates expressed surprise at the news before the game, saying they hadn’t heard the center was benched until just a few hours before tip-off.
“I just have to worry about the guys that are dressing and the guys that are playing,” said Chuck Hayes.
Here is Westphal’s full statement on the disagreement with Cousins:
“Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction. As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life!
As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.
Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public. This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.
DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight.”
(Copyright 2012 CBS Sacramento. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)