The season is far too young for any of this, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s surprising.
After the Sacramento Kings fell to 1-7 on Monday night following a 106-88 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins stressed the need for change. And though the All-Star big man kept his remarks on his team’s culture and chemistry intentionally vague, the awkward locker room scene just minutes earlier speak to the sweeping organizational ineptitude that continues to plague the Kings – and might continue to going forward.
Sacramento, playing with Cousins for the first time in four games, only trailed San Antonio by three points heading into the fourth quarter. But porous defense plagued George Karl’s squad when it mattered most yet again, as the Spurs connected on 15-of-20 from the field in the final stanza to turn a competitive game into the laughter that depicts the wildly disparate natures of these respective franchises.
The Kings should have been frustrated by defense letting them down again, and there’s no reason to believe they weren’t. Quite the opposite, in fact. But owner Vivek Ranadivé was much more concerned with keeping up appearances than letting his team reap the emotional benefits of a properly somber post-game setting.
Here’s James Ham of CSN California:
With players still hanging out in towels, Canadian rapper and actor Drake entered the locker room with owner Vivek Ranadivé, amongst others. A downtrodden room instantly turned gleeful as the players greeted the former Degrassi star.
Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay hung out with the entertainer until DeMarcus Cousins returned from the showers. Drake and Cousins are close. The singer was even wearing a Kentucky Wildcats jacket from Cousins’ alma mater.
According to CSN California, Cousins dressed and spoke to the media after Drake finally exited the locker room. But the jovial demeanor he displayed just minutes earlier while chatting with the “Hotline Bling” superstar was replaced by one far more in line with Sacramento’s current and longstanding circumstances.
Cousins told CSN California that the Kings “have some in-house issues we need to figure out,” too.
Mere hours after Sacramento’s franchise cornerstone called for a coach-less meeting with his teammates, a report emerged that Karl – who didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Cousins this summer, remember – was being evaluated by organizations higher-ups.
It’s Tuesday, November 10th. The 2015-16 season began two weeks ago today. Karl opened his first training camp with new-look Sacramento in late September; supposedly mended fences with Cousins barely one month before that; and took over as the Kings’ coach just prior to February’s All-Star break.
Now, basically, is not the time for Ranadivé, Vlade Divac, and company to make a change on the sidelines. Tension between Karl and Cousins presented an opportunity for Sacramento to part ways with its latest coach in the offseason. Once the pair’s relationship seemed to have reached the point of no return, we even called for the Kings to do just that.
But Sacramento must remember that the decision to fire Michael Malone – a favorite of Cousins, by the way – last December was hastened by eerily similar circumstances. The Kings were struggling; their best player had been sidelined for multiple games; and front office anxiety was close to reaching a boiling point.
Just imagine where Sacramento might be if it never made that hasty, short-sighted judgment in the first place. There’s no changing the past, though, and the Kings would only compound their initial mistake by letting Karl go without giving him a real chance to succeed with a healthy roster. We’ve never been optimistic the former Coach of the Year would make good on it, by the way; his basketball ethos and general approach to player interaction directly clashes with the Kings’ collective style and attitude.
But it’s not like Ranadivé has shown any ability whatsoever to hire the right personnel since buying the team in 2013, either. And as Drake’s locker room appearance, Cousins’ frustration, and the front office’s reported summit make abundantly clear by themselves, that reality, too, hints at an even bigger issue which seems bound to keep Sacramento in a perpetual state of amateur flux.