SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings finished up practice on Monday afternoon and before heading to the airport to fly to Los Angeles for Tuesday’s matchup against the Lakers, coach George Karl held his customary media scrum.
These sessions have become slightly more contentious as the season heads towards the home stretch. There are more questions about what’s happened to such a promising year, which Karl deflects until a later date. And of course, the media continues to pick at the open wound between the coach and his star player.
Fresh off a one-game suspension for yelling at Karl, DeMarcus Cousins spoke candidly about his coach following Sunday’s loss.
“That wasn’t a suspension from the organization, that was one from the head coach,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “There’s a difference.”
According to Karl, he doesn’t read the newspaper and hadn’t heard of Cousins’ comments. When told what Cousins had said, Karl deflected the question to management.
“I think Vlade should answer that question,” Karl said. “I think Vlade has the truth.”
Karl admitted that he still hasn’t spoken to his All-Star big, other than limited exchanges during pregame and practice.
“I have not talked to Cousins yet, but I’m not going to every day answer the question if I’ve talked to Cuz,” Karl said. “It’s a process. For me, it’ll happen, it’ll happen. Now I’m not going to be on a daily timetable of answering when it happens and if it happens, I’m not going to tell you what happened in it.”
Cousins served his one-game suspension on Friday night as the Kings dropped another game on their home floor, this time to the Orlando Magic. He returned to action on Sunday where he scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of action in the team’s 108-99 loss to the Jazz.
Despite the losses and the chaos from within, Cousins continues to put up big numbers almost every night. In six games this month, he’s averaging 28.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. But the losing has taken a toll on everyone in the building.
“It’s been frustrating everybody,” Karl said. “It’s been frustrating for the owners, for Vlade (Divac) and the upper staff, for the trainers and the equipment managers. No one enjoys the moment of losing. But in the same sense, today is a new day and tomorrow’s a chance to change that.”
With their loss on Sunday evening, the Kings are now a season-high 15 games under .500. They’ve lost five straight and eight-of-nine, and they have fallen 7.5 games behind the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, who are tied for the seventh spot in the playoffs.
TIME TO PLAY THE YOUNG GUYS
We have reached the point of the season where teams that are out of the playoff hunt usually turn to their younger players to get them an extended look and a little more experience. The Kings are a veteran laden team, but rookie Willie Cauley-Stein and seldom used Seth Curry are in line for a an increase in minutes.
“I talked to Willie and I talked to Seth and I don’t know exactly where I’m going to go yet, but I think Seth will probably get more minutes and I think Willie’s probably going to get more minutes,” Karl said.
What that means exactly is still up for debate. Karl has said in the past that Cauley-Stein would get more time only to play him six minutes later that evening. At one point Karl called Curry his best perimeter defender and then didn’t play him again for a week or two.
“I’m approaching them to try and win everyone we’ve got,” Karl said of the remaining 17 games on the Kings schedule. “There might be different philosophies of rotating the team and opportunities might be given to some players, but we’re not going to weaken the opportunity to try and win.”
Ben McLemore missed practice with a non-displaced fracture in the tip of his right ring finger. His absence over the last three games has opened a door for Curry who has seen action in back-to-back games after missing the previous six due to a right foot sprain.