Did anyone see George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins dominating the first week of the NBA offseason headlines?
Yeah, we didn’t either.
But at this point, divorce appears likely, if not inevitable.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” NBA.com writer Sekou Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I know Cousins has been at the epicenter of dust-ups and controversies before, but this one is not on him. This one’s on George Karl. And George Karl has been around the league and has left the same plume of smoke in his wake every time – him trying to run out a star player or not being on the same page of his star player and wanting the organization to choose him over the player. You know as well as I do, that’s just not realistic in the NBA. That’s not how it works. And for a guy who’s won and lost as many games in this league as George has, I’m stunned that he still doesn’t understand this is how it works.”
But the Kings knew that when they hired Karl, right?
“Absolutely,” Smith said. “I think George has painted himself into a corner yet again. If he misrepresented himself to a green owner, a guy who’s not versed in the NBA and made it sound like everything would be roses and lollipops and he’d made it work with DeMarcus and then two weeks in realized, ‘Good Lord, I can’t handle this,’ then it’s on George. If he’s going to get fired or is going to walk away, then he should do so. Because if I’m an owner and you’re asking me to part ways with my 24-year-old guy who’s averaging 24 and 12 and who we’ve yet to see the best from, you’re crazy.”
Is it possible that Karl thought he had leverage because the Kings haven’t been competitive in a decade and he is a proven winner? Is it possible that he played the take-it-from-me, I-know-what’s-best card?
“I’ve heard different stories about what exactly went down, but I think we’d be naive if we’re assuming that this was just about Cousins,” Smith said. “It’s about George and him wanting to have the power to manipulate the roster to his liking, and I understand that. As a coach, if that’s what your deal is – if you can’t coach certain guys or certain guys don’t fit with the way you want to play – that’s fine. But you got to make a better case than this isn’t working after eight months. Mike Malone got let go because they thought George could take that group to the next level. It turns out it wasn’t the coach; it was the compilation of talent that wasn’t up to par to (making) the playoffs in the Western Conference.”
Smith heard that Karl allegedly called up to 10 NBA teams to see if they’d be interested in Cousins and urged them to reach out to the Kings.
“You’re opening a can of worms by even entertaining that,” Smith said. “Because once your player finds out about it – once DeMarcus Cousins finds out about it – he feels betrayed. He’s not going to give you what you need. He’s never going to buy into what you want him to as a coach, and it puts the organization in an unbelievable tight spot. Because here they are investing in DeMarcus Cousins and telling him, ‘Hey, you’re our centerpiece. You’re the guy we’re going to build around.’ And when this comes out, I think that’s why you see such push-back from the owner and Vlade Divac and other people in the organization. There’s better ways to handle this internally, and to do it the way it’s been done is really a stain on what’s going on there. They’re not moving forward as I think everybody thought they were.”