SACRAMENTO -- Stranger than fiction. That is the best way to describe the dysfunctional Sacramento Kings.
After a positive summer of quality additions and bread breaking between franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins and future Hall of Fame coach George Karl, there was hope in Kingsland.
That hope may have dissipated completely at this point, and we are just eight games into the 2015-16 season.
The recent downward spiral all started with a fourth quarter collapse against the Spurs on Monday, but CSNCalifornia.com has confirmed that the locker room was set ablaze by a profanity-laced tirade by Cousins, aimed directly at Karl.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Karl asked general manager Vlade Divac to suspend the 25-year-old center for two games. Divac refused.
A team meeting on Tuesday left coaches and players singing Kumbaya, but a number of damning details have slipped out into the public and the franchise is once again spinning out of control.
At the end of the meeting, Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz reportedly brought up the topic of Karl's future with the team.
According to Jason McIntyre of thebiglead.com, Divac asked: "We don’t know what to do with George, do you think we should fire him?"
Cousins on Wednesday released a statement apologizing for his verbal outburst.
"It is no secret that we are all frustrated with losing -- me more than anyone," Cousins told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. "I let my frustrations get the best of me in the locker room after the San Antonio loss -- that is my bad. For the record, my frustration is not about any one person or player or coach. There is no one person to blame. All of us are accountable. My frustration is that we are 1-7 simple as that."
It was clear that something went horribly wrong when media entered the locker room late Monday evening. A quiet hung in the room, that couldn’t be masked by the stench of sweat and dirty sneakers.
Vivek Ranadivé’s decision to walk into the player’s changing room with rapper Drake spoke volumes to the detachment from reality facing the Kings franchise.
A group of smiling owners hanging out with a guy they have probably never even heard sing a note, strolled into the pit of despair. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but there it was with cameras rolling.
They were too giddy to even notice that their team, that had just lost for the sixth consecutive game, was in no mood to chill with Drizzy.
The 64-year-old coach has drawn the ire of plenty of his players this season. His obsessive tinkering, be it with seven different lineups in eight games of constant rotation shuffling, has players confused and frustrated.
Adding to the confusion is Karl’s decision to delegate most of his coaching responsibilities to his assistant coaches, most notably, Chad Iske.
Karl was clear on Wednesday that his health is in no way an issue. He feels better than he has in years. His decision to delegate has kept him fresh and he sees no issue with handing things over to his trusted, hand-picked group.
“My style of coaching has gone, after my second cancer, I’ve delegated a lot more,” Karl said. “I believe in that and I think it’s worked at a high, high level.”
But herein lies one of the crucial issues with delegating from afar. Sources within the Kings have long said that Karl speaks more to the media than he does his actual team. And his penchant for naming names in front of cameras is unnerving for his players.
Be it mentioning that Rudy Gay is out of shape following a game or dropping the all powerful “no one is untradeable” comment, Karl’s attempts to agitate do not have the same motivational effect they once did. In most cases, they have the exact opposite effect.
The conflict in personality between coach and players has only been magnified by the losses.
“I’m a big believer that winning is the best coach in basketball and losing is the worst coach in basketball,” Karl said.
The Sacramento Kings are no stranger to controversy. At this point, they are experts in the art of crisis management. A win against Detroit and another against Brooklyn on Friday would go a long way towards quieting the noise surrounding the team, but this issue isn’t going away. If the Kings can't start winning, Karl most likely is.