With an in-game benching followed by a two-game suspension last month, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins seemed on the cusp of being shipped out of Dodge, or at least Sacramento. One potential and perhaps ideal destination at the time according to a report, Washington, where his ex-Kentucky teammate John Wall works.
Obviously nothing on that front has taken place and Cousins remains a member of the Kings, who host the Wizards on Wednesday night (10 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet). Considering drama crops up frequently whenever the 6-foot-11 big man is around, it's certainly likely Cousins will be on the trade block down the line, perhaps at his own request.
Then again, based simply on the numbers he's posted lately, Sacramento would be unwise to grant such a request.
In 10 games since being reinstated for the Dec. 28 game against New York, Cousins is averaging 20.1 points and 12 rebounds. That stretch started with six straight double-doubles and includes a 26-14 performance in Monday's 124-118 win over Cleveland, Sacramento's last game before facing the Wizards. The Kings are 14-24 on the season, but have split their last 10 games.
Cousins took one of those double-doubles up a notch with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in late December blowout victory over Boston. Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart, told the Associated Press Cousins is "the guy who makes it all work for us." This came after the coach reportedly pushed for the suspension. Smart doesn't sound like his pushing that agenda anymore, not now anyway.
After Cousins scored a season-high 31 points and matched his career high with 20 rebounds, Smart told reporters, "[DeMarcus] had the right energy to start the game, he had the right mindset of not trying to score 50 but trying to let his teammates play. He's in a good spot as a basketball player right now and he's only going to get better."
Cousins will not be the only big man in the game playing at his best this season. In the opening contest on Washington's five-game Western swing, Emeka Okafor spearheads the challenge of slowing down the 270-pounder, but the Kings will also have to account for the Wizards' center. During Washington's three-game winning streak, Okafor has generated a double-double in each while averaging 13.6 points and 11 rebounds. In Monday's win over Orlando, he matched his season-high with 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting while yanking down 11 rebounds.
“He is playing great," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Emeka is working his tail off, off the floor, which I think has given him what he’s giving us...He's been going here for a stretch at a long time playing at this level."
Based on the way the physically-imposing Cousins has played lately, Okafor will need to be at his best. As for Cousins playing in Washington with Wall, never say never, but the idea seems more remote right now. At least both and Wall will be on the same court Wednesday night. From Washington's end - and considering Wall is just returning from a lengthy knee injury - that is good enough.