Should the Kings Max-Out Cousins?
His last two games of the 2012-2013 season almost perfectly sum up the first three years of DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento. In the season finale on April 17th against the Los Angeles Clippers, Cousins tallied 36 points and 22 rebounds. He shot 14 for 24 from the field and added 3 blocks as well. Superstar numbers. However, two days prior against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cousins shot a measly 2 for 9 from the field, turning the ball over 5 times while only scoring 7 points and grabbing 6 rebounds (on a side note, his team also lost both games).
Cousins’s first three seasons in Sacramento have been filled with highs and lows, with as many 30 point-20 rebound-type games as overall headaches to the Kings coaching staff and other players. While his 3-year averages of 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds are extremely impressive from a 22-year-old, they haven’t come at anything close to a consistent pace and they haven’t helped bring the Kings anywhere closer to becoming relevant in the NBA playoff picture.
With Evans off the team, the Kings backcourt this season will likely feature new acquisitions Greivis Vasquez and Ben McLemore at the starting spots with returning Kings Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton coming off the bench. At forward they added the talented Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and brought back undervalued forward Carl Landry. Jason Thompson will also play a lot of power forward and center.
All in all the team is extremely young with a lot of money to spend. If they chose to pass on Cousins’s extension, they’ll either look to trade him at some point during his contract season this year or be forced to match any other team’s offer to him - which is likely to be max or near-max - next summer. If they want to avoid bad blood and really think Cousins is their man, the smartest decision would be to sign him now.
But to me, a 5-year deal worth around $80 million just seems way too excessive for a player who A) hasn’t shown any signs of consistency in his short NBA career, B) has shown a lack of compatibility with a number of teammates and C) hasn’t shown in any way, shape or form that he can lead a successful team or even that he wants to be the go-to-guy on a legitimate team.
All arrows seem to be pointing toward an extension with the Kings, and sometimes in situations like these with young, talented players you just have to take a gamble before another team does, but with Cousins’s track record so far, I really think the Kings are betting against the odds.