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  • HECTOR AMEZCUA / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Coach Keith Smart said the Kings reinstated center DeMarcus Cousins, left, through a "group" decision. It remains unclear when Cousins will return to action.

  • Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com Kings center DeMarcus Cousins already has been suspended twice by the NBA this season for a total of three games.

Kings reinstate Cousins from indefinite suspension

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013 - 8:26 am

The Kings announced Monday that center DeMarcus Cousins has been reinstated after being suspended "indefinitely" Saturday for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."

The banishment lasted one game for their leading scorer, rebounder and drama maker.

Cousins was reinstated Monday morning in time for the team's practice. The Kings had suspended Cousins on Saturday morning after he met with basketball president Geoff Petrie and coach Keith Smart following an argument the center had with Smart during a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

Cousins apparently was so profane and personal in his verbal confrontation with Smart in front of teammates during halftime that Smart benched Cousins and left him in the locker room for the second half of the defeat at Staples Center.

Cousins said Friday night that he was wrong and "shouldn't have responded back" to Smart.

"Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet," Cousins said, noting what exactly he said should remain in the locker room. "I messed up. I'm apologizing to all my teammates for it, for responding the way I did, and we'll move on from it."

Despite those words from Cousins on Friday, it appeared the Kings planned to take a tougher stance with Cousins, who by his own admission needs to work on how he responds to coaches and teammates, and that he would not be around the team so soon.

On Sunday, without Cousins, the Kings put together one of their best efforts of the season, recording a season-high 31 assists in beating the Portland Trail Blazers 108-96 at Sleep Train Arena.

In announcing the suspension Saturday, Smart had said he and Petrie were setting a standard for behavior. By Monday morning, no one in the organization seemed to be taking responsibility for the reinstatement, and it wasn't clear when Cousins might return to action.

"He's been reinstated, yes," Smart said after Monday's practice. "That doesn't mean he's playing right away, but he's back around the team and came back (Monday), apologized to the team and to me as well, and we'll just move forward."

In announcing Cousins' reinstatement, the team issued a press release without attributing the decision to Smart, Petrie or the Maloofs, which is not the norm.

Also not clear Monday was how much of a role Cousins' new agent, Dan Fegan, may have had in getting the length of "indefinite" defined as one game.

Fegan and Petrie did not return calls seeking comment.

The Maloofs declined to comment.

Smart said the decision was made as a "group" when asked whether he or Petrie had the final say.

Smart said "indefinite" didn't necessarily mean a long suspension.

"That could be an hour," Smart said. "That could be 30 days."

What does seem clear from off-the-record comments is that Cousins' verbal outbursts are wearing on the Kings and that his squabble with Smart led to the third time in his three NBA seasons the Kings have had to tell him to stay away from the team.

Each instance has been for a game.

"I won't get into all that part of it," Smart said when asked when the decision was made to reinstate Cousins. "(Monday) he's reinstated. When it happened, how it happened, it might have happened while I was sitting on the throne."

Smart said after practice he hadn't discussed parameters that would allow Cousins to return to his starting role or even play.

The Kings visit Portland on Wednesday.

"We haven't gone down that line," Smart said. "The first step is to get back around the team by being reinstated. The next step is to go forward as I see fit, and we want to move forward."

Cousins already has been suspended twice by the NBA this season, then returned to the starting lineup.

The first suspension was for two games for a verbal confrontation with San Antonio TV analyst Sean Elliott after a game Nov. 9.

The NBA also suspended Cousins for one game for hitting Dallas guard O.J. Mayo in the groin Dec. 10.

Smart said conditioning was part of the reasoning to bring Cousins back sooner rather than later.

"Obviously, he's going to come back to the team at some point," Smart said. "So you've got to get the player back around, get their mind moving in that direction and get everyone else understanding he's going to come back."

Cousins declined to speak with reporters Monday. He did work out with assistant coach Clifford Ray.

At one point, voices were raised during the workout. Cousins left the court immediately after the workout and did not return to address reporters.

When Cousins does play again, teammates say he'll be welcomed on the court.

"He's our teammate. He's our brother," guard Marcus Thornton said. "He apologized; he was on the wrong end of things. Hopefully, we can get him back playing like DeMarcus plays."

Injury updates – Swingman Francisco Garcia (sore lower back) practiced after missing two games.

The news on guard Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) wasn't as encouraging. Evans will not play Wednesday, Smart said.

Evans has appeared in only four games since bumping knees with Minnesota forward Andrei Kirilenko on Nov. 27. Evans has missed the last four games since leaving the Kings' Dec. 16 loss to Denver after 10 minutes.

An MRI this month revealed no structural damage to his knee.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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