The center the Kings would love to build around wasn't at Power Balance Pavilion when they ended their three-game losing streak.
DeMarcus Cousins was sent home by coach Paul Westphal hours before the Kings beat the New Orleans Hornets 96-80 Sunday night.
The decision was based on a discussion between Cousins and Westphal after Saturday night's loss to New York. Exactly what was said in Westphal's office depends on whose side you're on.
During postgame media availability Saturday night, Cousins said the Kings had to "do what coach say" when asked about the team's struggles, and teammate J.J. Hickson told Cousins not to say anything detrimental while speaking to the media. Cousins felt singled out for being selfish after the loss.
Westphal said Cousins demanded a trade for the second time this season after a series of other undisclosed indiscretions. Westphal said a discussion he had with Cousins after practice Dec. 24 was about the center's first trade request. At the time, Westphal declined to say what he spoke to Cousins about.
Cousins' agent John Greig denied Westphal's claim about his client.
"First of all, he's never demanded a trade," Greig said. "I've never spoken to anyone in the organization about a trade."
Greig said as of Sunday night no one from the Kings had spoken to him about any trade demands by Cousins. But Greig added, "He may very well have played his last game there."
The Kings play at Memphis on Tuesday and at Denver on Wednesday. Westphal said whether Cousins makes the trip isn't entirely his decision.
"That will pretty much be up to (Cousins)," Westphal said. "He said he wanted to be traded. If he doesn't want to be here, we want guys that are going to be going the same direction."
Cousins' teammates have always liked him and would welcome him back for the trip.
"The thing with him is he's so emotional," forward Francisco Garcia said. "And when things go wrong, he really shows his emotions. The thing is, he's really not a bad kid. He's going to travel with us (today), hopefully."
Cousins, in his second season, is averaging 13 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. He has struggled shooting (32.1 percent), but his rebounding and defense have shown improvement.
Asked if the Kings had any intention of trading Cousins, basketball president Geoff Petrie said, "No."
"My intention is to meet with him (today)," Petrie said.
Teams such as Houston and Detroit have long had an interest in Cousins.
Petrie said this situation is really about Cousins' maturity. Cousins has missed two games in his career, both for disciplinary reasons.
Cousins missed the Kings' win at Phoenix last Feb. 13 after he was removed from the team plane following a locker room altercation with Donté Greene the night before.
"This is really about putting away childish things," Petrie said.
Without Cousins, the Kings (2-3) took control in the third quarter against the Hornets (2-2), who played without guard Eric Gordon (bruised right knee).
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 27 points, and Marcus Thornton scored 25. Both shot 9 of 18 from the field.
The Kings shot just 41.2 percent, but they made 18 of 21 free throws (85.7 percent), their best showing of the season.
Evans said the win shouldn't make anyone think the Kings don't need Cousins.
"He's a good player, and we need him," Evans said. "Hopefully, he can get it together and be a part of this team."