SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins abruptly began to sever ties Sunday after the team said the promising young center demanded a trade.
Kings coach Paul Westphal released a statement before Sacramento hosted the New Orleans Hornets, criticizing Cousins' commitment to the franchise and excusing him from the team's game. He also confirmed that Cousins asked for a trade.
"Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction," Westphal said. "As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life! As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.
"Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public," Westphal continued. "This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.
"DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight."
When reached by phone, Cousins' agent, John Greig, said he wasn't informed of the Kings' decision until Westphal's announcement. He declined comment when asked if Cousins requested a trade.
"I have no idea what the Kings are doing," Greig said. "The fact that I'm just finding out about this announcement now speaks volumes about them."
The Kings had been expecting big things from Cousins this season.
They had been optimistic that he would show improved maturity after a strong rookie campaign that also had its share of temper tantrums and blow-ups. While the comical Cousins off the court never disappeared, the team expected its up-and-coming big man would learn to control his emotions.
Sacramento drafted Cousins with the fifth overall pick in 2010 after he spent one season at Kentucky. The 21-year-old Cousins was averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes per game this season.
Cousins' behavior has been well documented going back to high school and his one season at Kentucky, mixing in dramatic and astonishing plays with outbursts against players, coaches, trainers and referees. His conditioning has been questioned and so has his work ethic, however, he showed up for training camp in prime condition and appeared ready for a breakout season.
Teamed with 2009-10 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, Cousins was expected to anchor the frontline for a young and emerging roster in the deep Western Conference. Sacramento finished 24-58 last season and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year, although a late-season surge behind a healthy Evans provided hope that maybe the Kings aren't that far off from making the postseason again.