Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is arguably the best center in the league. He is a very talented and athletic two-way player who can do most anything on the court. Currently, he is playing the best basketball of his career averaging 26.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 48 percent shooting. Despite his excellence on the court, Boogie has failed to turnaround the Kings who are once again languishing at the bottom of the standings with a 4-8 record.
Since Boogie entered the league in 2010, the Kings have failed to make the playoffs in each of his six full seasons. During the period, the team won a miserable 164 games out of a possible 492 or a winning percentage of 33%. And, despite being in the lottery for all these years, the Kings really have nothing to show for it, unable to acquire stars or good picks.
Now on his seventh season, more and more of the blame is going to Cousins since he is supposed to be the foundational franchise player, the superstar, the leader but he has failed to live up to expectations. Yes, it is partly true that the Kings management is also to blame since they have been unable to surround the All-Star with the proper pieces. Ultimately, the team’s performance is directly related to the players on the floor.
As mentioned, Cousins is one of the top players in the league and he can play with the best of them. The knock on Boogie is everything else in between. He is considered a hot-head and has infamous feuds with referees – a good way of racking up the technical fouls. He flouts team rules and undermines most of his coaches who consider him “uncoachable.” The Kings are on their fifth non-interim coach in the past seven years which means they are still paying off coaches they already fired.
With Cousins’ outbursts, the Kings have a massive leadership void. No one on the team can look up to a leader who throws his mouthpiece to the stands when he is frustrated. In desperation, the Kings even acquired touted locker room leaders in the offseason. Veterans Anthony Tollvier, Garrett Temple, and Arron Afflalo were brought in to provide some leadership stability but in the end that responsibility falls on Cousins.
Already, trade rumors are swirling around Cousins fueled by recent statements made by minority owner Shaquille O’ Neal who said the former could be dealt: “He hasn’t shown great leadership qualities yet. One of the best centers in the league, this cat can do it all…but he’s a hothead. If they want to make a run, he’s going to have to be a leader.”
Cousins has one year remaining on his contract after this season which pays him $17 million this year and $18 million the next. Because of his talent, many teams are interested but are unwilling to part with key pieces to get the center. Bottomline: The Kings overvalue him and are asking for the moon. Other teams, meanwhile, see a player who can disrupt team chemistry and is a burden to coach. This has derailed any trade transactions for the center.
Boogie still has ashot of leading his team to the promised land but that window is fast closing. It is up to him if he can still change his ways but after seven years don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. What I expect to happen is that Boogie will be wearing another uniform before the trade deadline.