MEMPHIS, Tenn. The Kings maintain that DeMarcus Cousins demanded to be traded. Cousins maintains that didn't happen.
Neither side is budging on its claim following a meeting Monday involving Cousins, his agent, John Greig, and Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie.
After the meeting, Petrie decided Cousins would join the Kings on their flight for tonight's game against Memphis. Cousins was sent home by coach Paul Westphal before Sunday's game against New Orleans.
Westphal said that during a meeting after Saturday's loss to New York, Cousins asked to be traded, a demand the coach said the center also made Dec. 24. Westphal added that there had been multiple issues with Cousins that had not been publicized.
Westphal said Cousins was told if there were more incidents there would be "less protection" from the team in not disclosing them.
Cousins issued a statement Monday: "I want to address my missing the New Orleans game Sunday. I have not demanded or requested a trade. I don't agree with the actions taken but will give my sincere effort to put it behind me and compete the best I can for my team."
Cousins will dress for tonight's game but will not start, Westphal said.
"We still hope DeMarcus will be here to continue to mature and progress and reach his potential with the Kings," Westphal said.
Asked what he needed to see from Cousins to know if he is changing his ways, Westphal said: "We'll know it when we see it . His attitude has a long way to go. It will be up to coaches, teammates and most fans (to see a change)."
When he met with Cousins on Monday, Westphal said the center "was a little quiet and not too communicative," which he said is something he has seen from Cousins before.
Petrie said Sunday the team does not plan to trade Cousins. Petrie said his talk with Cousins covered what he needs to improve on as a player, his role in the offense and the level of commitment needs to reach his potential.
"He wanted to rejoin the team and his teammates," Petrie said. "I can't say we agreed on everything, but it was an honest and frank discussion."
Cousins was the fifth overall draft pick in 2010. Several pundits said he might be the most talented player in that draft, but he slid to No. 5 over concerns about his maturity.
As a rookie, Cousins had a verbal altercation with the Kings' strength coach and was benched for giving the choke sign toward an opponent after a missed free throw. He was also removed from the team plane and kept out of a game after a locker room altercation with Donté Greene.
After the choke-sign and Greene incidents, Cousins lost his starting job. So it was not surprising that Westphal said Cousins would not start tonight.
Without Cousins, the Kings beat New Orleans 96-80 to end a three-game skid. Westphal was pleased with his players' energy and effort after the team looked bad in its losses.
Westphal said if not for the Cousins incident, he might not have tried replacing Cousins with J.J. Hickson.
Petrie also liked what he saw Sunday.
"The team played exceptionally well," Petrie said. "And we want to try to build on that."