Cousins playing for Wizards makes sense, except...

Cousins playing for Wizards makes sense, except...
June 20, 2013, 7:30 pm
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DeMatha's Victor Oladipo: 'I've got more goals'

The Wizards yearn for a long-term scoring option in the low post.

Emeka Okafor isn't it. He’s a defensive-minded center who scores on mostly hustle plays and putbacks. He's also going into the final year of his contract. Nene is on the other side of 30 and his injury history makes him suspect.

For a moment, table the June 27 NBA draft possibilities. While the Wizards could land a post player such as Alex Len (Maryland) or Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) with the No. 3 overall pick, both come with major question marks because of youth and injuries. 

An unhappy player a lot of Wizards fans have talked about acquiring in a trade -- DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings -- may be in play if he has it his way.

And according to a report Thursday from Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, the troubled 6-11 center has made a demand to the Kings’ new majority owner, Vivek Ranadive.

"His agent, Dan Fegan, has instructed Cousins not to speak on anything relating to the Kings team, management or ownership," wrote Jones, who attended a basketball camp for kids in Sacramento and talked with the player. "Cousins is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and Fegan wants a maximum deal for his client with the threat of a trade demand looming if a deal isn't reached.”

Cousins, who played at Kentucky with Wizards point guard John Wall, is entering his fourth NBA season. He averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds. For his career, however, the center is just a 45% shooter.

He has been suspended multiple times for conduct detrimental to the team. His confrontation with Paul Westphal led to the coach being fired in 2012. His replacement, Keith Smart, was fired after this past season. 

The Kings won just 28 games, but it's still the most they've had since Cousins was drafted No. 5 overall in 2010. 

Would the Wizards be wise to take a risk, if a deal were possible and theoretically they had room under the salary cap to make it work, on a player with Cousins' baggage who has failed to make a bad team better?

Conventional wisdom says absolutely not. After trading Jordan Crawford in February, Wizards coach Randy Wittman spoke of a locker room culture that's exactly what he wants now. In other words, free of malcontents. He didn't call out any players by name, but in the last two years the Wizards also have rid themselves of Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee.

The Wizards only won 29 games last year, but not because of lack of effort. They were a top 10 defense despite being riddled with injuries. What they lacked was scoring, particularly off the bench.

Defense is harder to teach in the NBA, and that area isn't considered Cousins' strong suit, either. Why risk the chemistry? While he could be eager to start fresh and reunite with Wall, what if he were to bring some of the bad habits he learned in Sacramento? 

A person with knowledge of the Kings' locker room told CSN Washington recently that the atmosphere is poisonous one, with players sending text messages and making phone calls even during film sessions under Smart.

Maybe it's all a product of losing and lame duck management as the Kings were on the verge of being relocated to Seattle.

They team stayed, ownership has changed hands and the only thing that remains to accomplish is winning again. Success has a way of cleansing everyone's image, and look no further than Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies. He was branded a problem child as early in his career but matured into a two-time All-Star and positive community influence.

If Cousins is going to force a trade, he has not only say the right things but do the right things and play well. If he doesn't, he won't get the max contract he wants. 

In this new era of the punitive salary cap, teams are more cautious of moves they make. And given recent history here in Washington, it's hard to imagine that he'll end up in a Wizards uniform.

 

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