ATLANTA -- The Kings had perhaps their most famous supporter sitting near their bench Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal, who lives in the Atlanta area, attended the Kings’ game against the Atlanta Hawks.
O’Neal said he likes what the Kings have done to shake up the roster under the direction of general manager Pete D’Alessandro.
“One good thing about Pete is we’re similar; we’re chess players, not checkers,” O’Neal said. “We don’t look for instant gratification.”
O’Neal said the ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive is a big reason the Kings have a bright future.
“When you have guys like Vivek and those guys, we’re looking to build something that the city can be proud of, we can be proud of and the state can be proud of,” O’Neal said. “It’s going to take some time. We’re still looking to make a couple of moves, and once we do that and the guys know how to play with each other we’re going to be a dangerous team.”
While the Kings are taking steps toward improvement, O’Neal said the Kings would ultimately be judged by where they are in the standings.
The Kings have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, which means the Kings have considerable work to do.
“It’s all about winning,” O’Neal said. “DeMarcus (Cousins) is playing great, but if you’re averaging 22 (points) and 11 (rebounds) and you’re still not winning there are some things you’ve got work on.”
All-Star lobbying – There have been more questions about Cousins’ worthiness of being named an All-Star this season.
Cousins has one advocate in Kings coach Michael Malone.
Cousins is statistically one of the best players in the NBA. Cousins is one of four players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The other three – Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Los Angeles Clipper Blake Griffin and Minnesota’s Kevin Love – have been All-Stars.
The other three players also are on teams with better records than the Kings.
And with Cousins 12th in the first returns for fan voting among Western Conference frontcourt players, it appears it will take coaches voting for Cousins to get him onto the roster.
Malone hopes coaches don’t hold the Kings’ record against Cousins. Malone cannot vote for Cousins.
“The knock on him is going to be your record. That always becomes an issue when you’re trying to vote for All-Stars. Well, he’s not on a winning team,” Malone said. “And that’s something you can’t argue because that’s black and white.”
Malone, however, said he believes Cousins’ play in a tough conference should be enough for him to earn serious consideration if he continues to play well.
“We’re in the Western Conference, where it’s pretty damn competitive out there,” Malone said. “DeMarcus has proven early in the season that he’s a different player and a lot better player than he’s shown his first three years.”