DeMarcus Cousins has been busy this offseason, but not too busy to make a phone call to a teammate with a message – stay in Sacramento.
The Kings center has contacted Rudy Gay to let him know he does not want the forward to play for another team next season. Gay has until June 30 to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.
“We’ve talked, and he knows that I want him back,” said Cousins, who discussed Gay and a variety of offseason topics Thursday while taking a break at the DeMarcus Cousins Elite Skills Basketball Camp at Sacramento High School. “I need him on this ride. At the end of the day, it’s a decision he has to make for him and his family. We can only hope for the best. If he goes another way, I’ll wish him the best, but hopefully he’ll be in a Sacramento Kings uniform.”
The Kings made their pitch to keep Gay earlier this month. Cousins is confident management is committed to keeping Gay as well as making the necessary roster moves to help the team reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.
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“I love the way our front office is,” Cousins said. “They’re about making things happen, and they’re not trying to wait three or four years. They want it now, and that’s how it should be.”
As he has for years, Cousins worked with Sacramento-area kids on their basketball fundamentals. He says he prefers to hold his camp at Sac High in Oak Park partly because it reminds him of the Alabama neighborhood he grew up in, as well as because of the community support.
“It’s mainly the people,” Cousins said. “This part of town doesn’t get the exposure that it should. I’m a person that came from one of these parts of town. I feel like it’s a good area; a lot of these kids get a chance to interact with other types of kids, and I think it will all mesh and turn out well.”
While the front office aggressively looks to improve the team, Cousins has been busy with making television appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and ESPN and working out with teammates in Sacramento.
Cousins also has joined Kings minority owner and recently named Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame guard Mitch Richmond as part of Richmond’s anti-bullying campaign.
Cousins is preparing for the Team USA camp in Las Vegas next month but likes what he has seen from his teammates in Sacramento who have made it to the workouts.
“A lot of young guys (are working out) that are committed with a better mindset, and they understand more,” Cousins said. “You’ve got guys like Ben (McLemore) and Ray (McCallum) coming in, and they want to improve from last season. I feel like it’s all good signs and it’s one step closer to the goal we’re trying to get to.”
Cousins, however, says his focus this summer is to make the Team USA roster.
“I do want to be on that team, and I’m not going to lie about it,” Cousins said. “I’m still going to make the best of the situation and just try to be the best player in the camp.”
All-Star Dwight Howard is healthy this summer and will be a top consideration for a spot at center. Cousins, however, has offensive skills that could benefit the team in international play.
Cousins can play on the perimeter, which many big men do in international play, and in the post.
While in Las Vegas next month with the U.S. team, Cousins said he plans to visit with the Kings summer league team.
McLemore, McCallum, Derrick Williams and Quincy Acy are among the veterans expected to play for the Kings in Las Vegas.
Cousins said the goal for the 2014-15 NBA season should be to make the playoffs, which will require a huge turnaround.
“We’ve all got to have the same goal in mind,” Cousins said. “We can’t have our side motives, have our own little personal goals. The main goal should be winning games and making the playoffs. We shouldn’t be worried about who’s getting paid this year or whatever the case may be, who’s putting up numbers, whatever. We all should be worried about making the playoffs and winning as a team.”