DeMarcus Cousins deserved this. Of course he deserved this. Enough already. The Kings' third-year center should be banned from Sleep Train Arena until he apologizes for verbally accosting his coach Friday night only the latest display of troubling, destructive behavior and strongly encouraged to start addressing his issues.
You don't have to be a psychiatrist to realize he needs counseling. He needs to be punished, true, but he also needs to be helped.
Cousins' emotional outbursts are occurring in rapid-fire succession, demoralizing his coaches, alienating his teammates and crippling his promising NBA career. His stature is shrinking by the deed. After progressing significantly last season under coach Keith Smart, emerging as one of the league's best young centers and earning a coveted invitation to compete for the U.S. Select Team in Las Vegas, Cousins has regressed surely and swiftly on and off the court.
He has been suspended three times in two months, unavailable for two games for angrily confronting San Antonio Spurs analyst Sean Elliott on Nov. 9 and forced to miss another game after punching Dallas guard O.J. Mayo in the groin on Dec. 10. And who knows how long he will miss for ripping into the coach who has been his most vocal and ardent supporter.
While Smart refuses to provide details about the incident that occurred during halftime of Friday's Kings- Clippers game at Staples Center, others close to the situation said Cousins directed a very personal and obscenity-laced tirade at his coach. He was told to remain in the locker room and was tagged with an indefinite suspension after meeting with Smart and basketball president Geoff Petrie on Saturday.
"One of the things I've tried to do is build a basketball team the right way," an unusually subdued Smart said after practice, "and everyone has to adhere to what we're trying to do. It's unfortunate that we're in this situation. I hate the fact that we are in this situation. But there's nothing you can do about it but get yourself prepared and ready to play."
And what to do about Cousins, who didn't react well when informed of this most recent punishment? The Kings should consider anything and everything: rehiring his former high school coach, Otis Hughley, who was added to the coaching staff as a baby sitter/personal handler during Cousins' rookie season; taking a tip from Phil Jackson and having one of their mental health consultants maintain a more consistent and high-profile presence. And while neither teams nor the league can compel players to undergo counseling, the Kings successfully pressured Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) into anger management therapy during his days in Sacramento.
Cousins' recurring troubles are both unfortunate and puzzling. He arrived at training camp in decent shape and determined to improve upon his 2011-12 averages of 18.1 points and 11 rebounds. Under Smart's firm but encouraging supervision, Cousins chipped away at the unflattering reputation that has accompanied him since his high school years in Mobile, Ala.
The feuds with trainers. The mistreatment of teammates. The fits of temper with coaches. The constant carping at referees that makes him an easy, and at times, undeserving target. Throughout the preseason, the bad acts seemed to be largely in the past, his long-term future with the Kings increasingly secure.
The Kings still don't want to trade Cousins and they shouldn't but something has to change. He has to change. Being tall and talented and wealthy doesn't entitle him to be demeaning and unprofessional and at times downright combative. He needs answers, and clearly, he needs help.
Asked why he appeared so morose after his impressive performance in the Kings' victory last week against the Warriors, Cousins shook his head. "I'm just dealing with a lot of things in my life right now," he replied quietly.
Now he gets to sit and think about things for a while, and with an assist from the Kings, maybe he can find some answers.