Kings Remove DeMarcus Cousins From Team Plane Following Altercation
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins was removed from a team plane bound for Phoenix after an altercation with teammate Donte Greene on Saturday night, according to two sources close to the organization.
The incident, which was first reported by FanHouse, immediately followed a loss to Oklahoma City. Cousins, who had overcome early-season struggles of the performance and personality variety recently, is expected to be suspended for at least one game. Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie did not immediately return a call for comment.
According to the sources, Cousins (whose postgame interview can be seen here) was furious at the last play in which Tyreke Evans missed a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation that would have won the game. Cousins, who had been calling for the ball in the post in the final possession, watched angrily as Greene in-bounded the ball to Evans for the final shot.
After the buzzer, Cousins let his opinion be known to Greene as he blew by him in the tunnel leading into the locker room. According to the sources, Greene and Cousins began exchanging words inside the locker room. The situation then escalated when Cousins accused Greene of being too "scared" of making what Cousins thought was the right play and with both players taking swings at each other before they were separated.
Petrie, according to the sources, made the decision to remove Cousins from the plane and decided to wait until Sunday to determine how to proceed. It was a decision that was not popular with at least one member of the team, as one of the sources said veteran swingman Francisco Garcia argued vehemently for Cousins to remain on the plane before relenting when he was told his fight was futile.
The team announced on Sunday afternoon that Cousins would not be with the team to face the Suns and the organization was reviewing the incident. Sources told FanHouse that Cousins is expected to meet with Petrie on Monday morning at the team's practice facility as part of the investigation. Despite Cousins being told repeatedly that he was being suspended during the time of the incident, the Kings - who had so quickly decided that only Cousins deserved to be removed from the plane even thought Greene had also thrown at least one punch as well - are clearly taking a measured approach to reviewing the facts in the aftermath before making a final decision.
There is certainly a bigger picture to consider for the Kings, though, as their volatile 20-year-old who was taken fifth overall in the June draft clearly has no plans to keep quiet about what ails the team. The situation has become nothing short of a power struggle between the rookie and the reigning Rookie of the Year, with Cousins' improved play of late giving him the gumption to question the way in which Evans is so often given carte blanche control of scenarios such as these.
As first reported by FanHouse, Kings coach Paul Westphal had voiced his frustrations with Evans in a postgame locker room scene on Monday for the way in which he handled Utah's zone defense late in a loss. Yet Westphal and Evans met the following day, according to Evans, at which time the player said Westphal smoothed the matter over and they came to an unofficial agreement regarding the team's late-game approach.
"We're on the same page," Evans told FanHouse on Wednesday. "(Westphal) knows when it's time, when the game is on the line, give me the ball and (I'll) try to make a play."
Evans fell short against Dallas on Wednesday, though, driving into the teeth of the Mavericks' defense before his shot was blocked by Tyson Chandler with 12 second remaining and the Kings trailing by two points. Cousins, as he has now made clear, is of the opinion that he should receive strong consideration for such crucial moments.
Still, his latest blow-up is a significant setback to a season that had an inauspicious start. Cousins was fined $5,000 by the team in October for exchanging words with strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro. The run-in took place just days after he and assistant coach Truck Robinson had a heated disagreement during practice that earned Cousins Petrie's ire.
Then on Nov. 29, Cousins was kicked out of practice by Westphal after exchanging words with the head coach. On Dec. 23, he lost his starting job temporarily after making a choking gesture to Golden State's Reggie Williams while he was at the free throw line late in a Dec. 21 game. Westphal deemed the behavior unprofessional, and said Cousins wouldn't start again until he raised his standards of conduct.
Cousins had been on good behavior since then, however, and his production saw a spike from November to December that had continued right on into January. In the 22 games since Dec. 29, Cousins has averaged 17.3 points (46.1 percent shooting) and nine rebounds.
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