DeMarcus Cousins is rarely at a loss for words. And the Kings center is working to make sure his teammates hear them.
Cousins' evolution as a leader continues in his third season. It's a role Cousins embraces, but he's still learning the best way to get his message across to teammates.
"I'm trying (to lead)," Cousins said. "Just in a better way that will be accepted more and accepted better."
It's one thing to be a fiery leader. But if that intensity disturbs teammates, Cousins might as well be talking to a wall.
Cousins is a bright player, but his observations and messages are often ignored if they are shouted to teammates. It's something Kings coaches and players have relayed to Cousins, who says he's listening.
"Sometimes you may be asking a valid question, but your demeanor and demonstrative way puts out that it's more than it really is," said coach Keith Smart. "So you have to figure out a way, how do I communicate to my teammate?"
Smart said Cousins realizes he needs his teammates and could not continue to come off as adversarial with them.
The most publicized incident came during Cousins' rookie season was a postgame altercation with former King Donte' Greene over an on-court decision.
Former coach Paul Westphal left Cousins in Sacramento while the team played in Phoenix. Cousins also was fined.
When Smart replaced Westphal last January, the new coach didn't want to stop Cousins' leadership instincts. He wanted to give Cousins a chance to grow into the role.
"A little thing (Cousins) said was, 'Coach, I can't be fighting with my teammates,' " said Smart, who offered his young player advice.
"I said: 'You have control over that. You have control over what your mindset is for the day. Your teammates won't bring it out. The weather won't bring it out. You have to keep it under control. And that's up to you.' "
Veteran swingman Francisco Garcia has encouraged Cousins to assert himself as a leader on the court. But Garcia also has cautioned him about his methods.
"We talk a lot about that," Garcia said. "Me and Cuz, we talk all the time. He's learning and getting better. Actually, (in training camp) when Chuck (Hayes) was running, he was helping Chuck and encouraging him. So with things like that you, can tell he's getting better."
Tyreke Evans said before the start of training camp that he and Cousins needed to become better players and teammates for the Kings to improve this season.
Evans said Cousins is communicating better with teammates, and the team is committed to working with him.
It helps to know Cousins means well.
"He's been doing a good job of just talking and not getting mad too much," Evans said. "Hopefully, he can keep it up for the rest of the season, and we're going to help him all the way through."
Cousins, meanwhile, remains committed to balancing his intensity while making sure his teammates remain receptive.
"That's just something I have to work on," Cousins said. "I'm still growing as a leader myself."
Smart said Cousins is on the right path because he has taken responsibility for how he deals with teammates.
So Smart is content continuing to help Cousins grow in the role.
"I think he's trying," Smart said. "I think the things that he's doing and how he talks to people is where it starts. How he walks into the gym determines what kind of emotional state the team sees him in."