DeMarcus Cousins could be a D-mare in New Orleans
David Whitley Orlando Sentinel
DeMarcus Cousins has been traded to New Orleans, and it’s being called the biggest rip-off since the Dutch bought Manhattan Island from the Lenape tribe for $24 worth of beads and the rights to Carmelo Anthony.
Everybody who’s anybody agrees Sacramento got fleeced. They envision Cousins and Anthony Davis shifting the NBA’s balance of power to the French Quarter. There’s just one hitch:
All the projections assume Cousins will stop acting like Cousins.
History shows that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to bet $209 on, much less $209 million.
That’s the corner the hapless Kings painted themselves into if they wanted to re-sign Cousins. Instead of tying that cash to a ticking bomb, they bailed out of their DeMarcusmare.
Hmm, that doesn’t work quite like “Dwightmare,” does it?
Let’s just call them D-mares, twin basketball traumas that held Sacramento and Orlando hostage. The similarities should be mixed into the celebratory drinks currently being hoisted on Bourbon Street.
Like Dwight Howard in 2012, Cousins is considered the planet’s finest center. Like Howard, the only NBA employer he’s ever known gave him a lukewarm job reference.
“Winning begins with culture,” Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac said in a statement, “and character matters.”
In other words, Cousins’ character poisoned the Kings’ culture.
You could easily argue that Sacramento’s culture poisoned Cousins. Everything the Kings touch turns to chicken feed, so they could have had St. Peter at center and he would have been reduced to acting like Alfred E. Neuman.
But Neuman never led the NBA in profane rants, moodiness, insubordination and coach-killing. Cousins went through six coaches in seven seasons, which is as much an indictment of the Kings as their All-Star whiner.
Let’s just say the D-mare in Sacramento was a group effort and both sides could use a huge dose of professionalism. New Orleans’ worry is the calendar.
A lot of people start their careers as knuckleheads, but they get older, wiser and stop leading their industries in technical fouls. Cousins so often acts like a 12-year-old we assume he is.
The calendar says he’s 26. When you’re in your seventh season, you are who you are.
That truism is often lost on franchises who think the only thing Alfred E. Player needs is a new start. Especially if Alfred is a center.
It can happen. Robert Parrish flourished after he left Golden State for Boston. But for every Parrish, there are a handful of Andrew Bynums whose heads will never be screwed on straight.
Which brings us back to our old friend Dwight. He was also 26 when he was first traded. He wasn’t a hothead like Cousins, but his self-absorbed immaturity flared in other ways.
Who could forget Stan Van Gundy telling the media after a shootaround that Howard had asked for him to be fired? Then an unsuspecting Howard wandered over, gave Van Gundy a hug and said all was fine with his coach.
His trademark grin vanished as he tried to weasel out a believable explanation. The truth was he wanted out, and he eventually got his wish.
When the trade happened, everybody thought the Lakers finally had their next great center. All Howard needed was to grow up a tad and championships would follow.
Ask Kobe Bryant how that worked out. Then Howard was off to Houston. Ask James Harden how that worked out.
Dwight will always be Dwight. That doesn’t mean DeMarcus will always be DeMarcus, but there is a reason half the league wouldn’t touch him and Sacramento ended up with $24 worth of NBA beads.
Character matters. And if Cousins doesn’t develop some, New Orleans just traded for its very own D-mare.