There was no reprieve from the NBA this time.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins must serve his automatic one-game suspension after being called for his 16th technical foul of the season, the NBA announced Monday.
Cousins will miss the season finale Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns and will not be allowed inside Sleep Train Arena for the game, per league rules.
Cousins flirted with the technical foul suspension the last two seasons but avoided the banishment because he had a technical foul rescinded. But there was no mercy from the league this time.
The league did as it had all season with Cousins and accepted the technical foul called by J.T. Orr with 1:13 left in Sunday’s win over Minnesota. Cousins waved his hand in protest at Orr and said something that led to Orr hitting the center with his league-leading 16th technical foul.
“It reminds me of his first technical of the season, at home against the Clippers,” Kings coach Michael Malone said after Sunday’s game. “It was a big tech, but he didn’t say anything to the referee; it wasn’t direct. He was walking away and said whatever he had to say.”
Cousins was called for his 14th and 15th technical fouls Feb. 25, when he was ejected during a blowout loss to Houston and had to be restrained while being escorted to the locker room. That led Malone to joke the team had wagers on how long it would take Cousins to get his 16th technical and the automatic suspension.
But since Feb. 25, Cousins went 22 games without a technical foul, the longest stretch of his four-year career. Malone praised Cousins regularly for avoiding the confrontations with officials that led to piling up technical fouls to start the season.
The Kings had no media availability Monday. Cousins would not talk Sunday night about the technical foul or his likely suspension, an approach the Kings hope he can build on next season.
“It took him awhile to pick it up, but now he knows he can calm himself down,” guard Isaiah Thomas said. “I don’t know what he said (Sunday), but he took steps in the right direction.”
Since entering the NBA, Cousins has been near or at the top in technical fouls. He also had 16 technical fouls to lead the NBA last season. But the last one came in the season finale, and the penalty did not carry over to this season.
This is the second league-mandated suspension this season for Cousins, who served one game for punching Houston guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach on Feb. 25.
Cousins’ two suspensions this season actually represented an improvement from last season, when he was suspended three times – once by the team and twice by the league. He’ll now have to wait until next season to prove he can consistently control his emotions and outbursts toward referees and avoid technicals and further suspensions.
Cousins finished the season averaging career highs of 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds to lead the Kings. . He enters the first year of a four-year, $62 million contract next season and is the Kings’ only core player under contract for 2014-15 and beyond.
Forward Rudy Gay can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Thomas will be a restricted free agent after the Kings extend a qualifying offer.