DeMarcus Cousins: 'I Was Being Selfish'; Rookie Not on Trading Block
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - One day after Sacramento Kings rookie forward DeMarcus Cousins was kicked out of practice by Paul Westphal for arguing with the second-year head coach, he called his actions "selfish" and deemed the situation a "good lesson."
"I was being selfish," Cousins said after tallying 20 points and eight rebounds in a loss to Indiana on Tuesday night at Arco Arena, the Kings' 10th in their last 11 games. "I'm frustrated about losing. In my own opinion, I believe different strategies should be in the game and I was being selfish. It was a good lesson for me. I learned from it.
"I am a big part of this team, and Coach Westphal said (in practice) I've been terrible. and that's the truth. I've been terrible. It is a big effect on the team. I've got to pick up my game, and so does the rest of this team and we've got to turn this thing around."
The Cousins saga -- which first became a hot topic after his mid-October transgressions were reported in mid-November -- continues to leave opposing teams wondering if the Kings will look to trade the Kentucky product who was taken fifth overall in the June draft. But numerous sources close to the Kings said they have zero interest in doing so, even if Houston and Detroit, according to sources, made it clear this week that they remain interested if that stance changes.
The Pistons, who are equipped with the bargaining chip of small forward Tayshaun Prince and his readily available expiring contract worth $11.1 million, tried to trade up in the draft to take Cousins before taking Georgetown's Greg Monroe with the seventh pick. The Rockets, who remain engaged and hopeful on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes front, are on the market for a young power forward and sources say they admire Cousins' talent.
While there is no known progress in the Kings' reported -- and longtime -- pursuit of Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, sources say Cousins isn't the only Kings big man coveted by the Rockets. Despite signing forward Luis Scola to a five-year, $47 million deal last summer, Houston has significant interest in bringing back free-agent-to-be forward Carl Landry. The fourth-year player was traded to Sacramento in February in the three-team deal that sent Kevin Martin to Houston and Tracy McGrady to New York.
As for Anthony, the Rockets are among the many teams whose options -- and thus, their chances at landing Denver's star small forward -- expand on Dec. 15. That's the first date on which free agents who signed last summer (e.g. Scola for Houston) can be traded. As for Cousins, Westphal discussed what has been a contentious situation at length before Tuesday's game.
"Right now I think he's struggling with a little bit of impatience," Westphal said. "He's probably got more to learn than he thinks he does, and we're trying to help him focus on the things he can do to get better and really have an impact in this league.
"It's not anything he wasn't warned about (doing) or that we haven't expected we would deal with. Certainly, it's not anything you can hide either. He's got some issues that we're trying to help him overcome them as soon as possible."
Cousins' rookie campaign started well, as he started the first five games and was a consistent contributor as the Kings won three of their first five games. But the return of center Samuel Dalembert from injury put Cousins in a reserve role, and he is currently averaging 10.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 23 minutes per game while shooting just 40.3 percent. The more troubling numbers from Westphal's vantage point are Cousins' foul trouble (league-leading 4.2 per game entering play), 2.4 turnovers and 1.1 assists per game.
A candid Cousins admitted that his emotions have been getting the best of him in large part because of the Kings' losing ways.
"It's been very hard, just the frustration of losing," Cousins said. "You just hear all the negativity, and then we come into practice and you can just feel it. It's like a black cloud is over us. It's tough, but you've got to just keep pushing.
"I hate to lose. It's just over and over and it's the same feeling every night in the locker room. It's a terrible feeling. I hate it. And then you come in the next day, and it's kind of hard to look forward to another day of practice (when) you just keep losing. It's tough. It's hard to deal with."
It's becoming increasingly hard for Westphal to deal with as well.
"(Cousins' struggles are) like our team -- some steps forward, some steps back," said Westphal, who had his $2 million team option for the 2011-12 campaign picked up after last season. "That's what we signed up for. It's funny. When I got this job (in the summer of 2009), after this team won 17 games (in the 2008-09 campaign), Mark Heisler (of the Los Angeles Times) wrote that 'the Christmas wish for Paul Westphal was a cigarette and a blindfold.'
"I don't want that to come true, but we knew it was going to be a jagged path. And the only thing to do is keep focusing on how to improve, and helping everybody improve, and do it together and meet the challenge the next day."
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