by Matt George – Sports 1140 KHTK
Tonight, for the first time since he was suddenly traded during the NBA All-Star break in February, DeMarcus Cousins returns to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento to play in front of the fans, and the city, that had been his only NBA home.
Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of talk surrounding Cousins’ return, with mixed opinions from fans, media members, and team staff. Should he receive a standing ovation from the Sacramento community that he has given back to so many times? Will the Sacramento Kings organization thank him an honor him before or during the game? Will tonight’s game finally provide closure to the Cousins in Sacramento era?
While valid, all those questions are the wrong ones to ask. They don’t mean anything beyond the emotions surrounding a relatively meaningless early-season NBA game. The real questions that should be asked involve the state of the Kings franchise moving forward, the future success of Cousins, and what really happened before the 2017 NBA trade deadline.
All expectations point to a dominant performance from Cousins tonight, which Sacramento fans have enjoyed watching consistently throughout the all-star’s career. Many of the fans in the Golden 1 Center tonight, despite wearing Kings colors, will be hoping for a Boogie offensive explosion. But, one questions that will not be answered tonight; which team is the ultimate winner from last season’s trade?
Call it a cop-out answer, but we really won’t know which team came out on top for quite some time. A win for either team means nothing more than bragging rights. The New Orleans Pelicans could very well end up losing Cousins to free agency at the end of the season, ultimately resulting in the Kings receiving Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles for a season long rental. Or, the Pelicans could trade Cousins at the deadline for another significant talent, that could end up being a major difference maker down the road. Not to mention, where the Kings will be when their current young core develops in a couple years. We just don’t know.
So what’s the point of watching tonight’s game then? Is all the hype just fabricated by the local and nation media narrative? Not exactly. Tonight’s game is very meaningful for both teams. But neither has anything to do with the other. How will the Pelicans fare with Cousins at the helm after the loss of Anthony Davis to injury? Are the Sacramento Kings moving in the right direction? Are the Pelicans legitimate playoff threats? These are the questions we should be asking tonight.
This week, The Undefeated released an article containing an interview that ESPN’s Marc J. Spears did with Cousins. One of the major takeaways from the interview, other than the headline that Cousins “should have left when (he) had the chance”, was that Cousins claimed a deal had been agreed upon for him to remain a King. Kings General Manager Vlade Divac, also quoted in the article, claimed that there had been discussions, but never any agreement.
There really won’t be closure to this whole saga until the big question is answered; who is telling the truth? Did the Kings really have a verbal agreement with Cousins, that they then backed out of by trading him, ultimately stabbing him in the back? Or, did Cousins just assume a deal would get done, and made these claims to cope with the sting of being traded?
Cousins will forever be one of the best, and most polarizing, players that the Sacramento Kings franchise has ever had on their roster. Many fans love him, and many are tired of him. Many in the Sacramento community have had their lives positively impacted because of Cousins’ incredible heart and compassion. And many media members, former teammates, and team staff members have been subject to his outbursts.
No matter who is to blame for how things have ended up, and even if the bridges are completely burnt forever, nobody can take away the good times and memories of DeMarcus Cousins’ seven seasons as a Sacramento King.