In the 6 1/2 seasons DeMarcus Cousins played for the Kings, there was no gray area regarding how fans felt about the talented yet controversial star.
Fans either loved his versatile game, which made him one of the NBA’s elite big men, or loathed his moodiness, constant complaining to game officials and boorish locker room behavior, which helped chase numerous coaches out of Sacramento.
After learning Monday morning the Kings traded their three-time All-Star to New Orleans for an unproven, high draft pick in rookie Buddy Hield, two players who won’t be here next season and two 2017 draft picks, Kings fans wondered if this was the deal they had dreamed about or a nightmare.
It looks to me like the Kings got 49 cents on the dollar ... Something must have happened to precipitate the trade.
longtime Kings fan
In a Sacramento Bee poll Monday, 52 percent of respondents said the Kings made the right move by trading Cousins on Sunday night.
Most fans, however, agreed general manager Vlade Divac did not get enough in return.
“It looks to me like the Kings got 49 cents on the dollar on that trade,” said longtime Kings fan Bob Hawkins, a Cameron Park resident. “Something must have happened to precipitate the trade. What did we get in return? A rookie shooting guard? And two picks? Doesn’t make sense on the surface.”
On Monday, Divac said he wanted a new direction for his team, with a new “culture” and “character,” to begin building a winning franchise Kings fans would be proud of.
For Kings fan Gloria Merk, the trade gave her renewed hope.
“I know fans are upset, but it had to be done,” Merk wrote in an email to The Bee. “Drain the swamp. Clearly the trade and waivers show the owner wants a new culture. Matt (Barnes), legal problems. DeMarcus, you know the story; Darren (Collison), legal problems. Young Run and Shoot team on the horizon. Coach (Dave Joerger) will have a team he can mold by next training camp. Can't wait.”
Some reacting to the Cousins trade were neither a fan of the player nor the team for building a new downtown arena with the city’s help. Wrote fan Gene Ulm on Facebook: “Good riddance to bad rubbish. Take the owner, tear down your stadium and give us back our tax money.”
KHTK 1140 radio host Grant Napear, the team’s longtime television play-by-play man on CSN California, fielded many calls from Kings fans.
Before going on the air Monday, Napear offered his thoughts on the fans.
“It’s why I love living here, because even when the team is not very good, the fans have something to say; they’re in love with the franchise,” Napear said. “I completely understand and sympathize with the fans and hear them. One thing I’m having trouble digesting from some of the fans is, what did the Kings really do here?
The reality is, a lot of assistant coaches and former players who had bad experiences with Cousins don’t want to play with him. The word is out.
Grant Napear, radio host and longtime
Kings play-by-play man
“They traded their most talented player, who has not helped them win enough. It has not worked. The Kings are going in a different direction. I don’t know why that’s so difficult to understand.”
Napear pointed out it was nearly impossible for the Kings to get equal value for Cousins. His boorish acts were well chronicled through his Sacramento career, and the rest of the league took notice.
Trade for Cousins, and you also trade for his potential for trouble.
“The reality is, few teams wanted him,” Napear said. “I’ve heard that personally from front office people. Teams were not clamoring to get him. What does that say about one of the most talented players in the league, a three-time All-Star? That tells me teams don’t want the headache and baggage.
“This is a small league, a fraternity. When something is bad, everyone knows about it. The reality is, a lot of assistant coaches and former players who had bad experiences with Cousins don’t want to play with him. The word is out. A franchise cannot give a max deal unless it’s a sure thing, and Cousins is not a sure thing.”
Napear noted Cousins’ behavior off the floor was remarkable, a stance backed by Scott Moak, the Kings Foundation’s executive director and the team’s public address announcer. Moak called Cousins “the best he’s worked with” in the community.
Cousins privately offered to pay for the funeral of a Grant High School football player, J.J. Clavo, who was shot before a playoff game in 2015.
“Off the court, Cousins is A-plus,” Napear said. “Our community will miss him. His heart and generosity is top-shelf. But the Kings were not paying him to be great in the community, though they appreciate it. They were paying him to be great on the floor.”
Victor Contreras: 916-326-5527, @sacbeevictor