There was already reason for DeMarcus Cousins to be wary of George Karl.
He undoubtedly heard the stories from other players around the league. That Karl’s ego was huge and that he didn’t like coaching star players.
Cousins privately feared Karl would want to trade him.
Then came Karl offering the following – unsolicited – when talking about the offseason in the Kings’ final home game April 13:
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“I’ve had some great players, and I never had one player that I’ve said is untradeable. You’ve always got to be ready for the possibility of a great trade.”
Predictably Cousins was irked to hear this. He privately feared Karl would want him gone, even as Cousins has maintained he has no desire to be dealt. And on a day ESPN reported the Los Angeles Lakers were making a strong push to trade for Cousins, Yahoo! Sports reports Karl is pushing for the Kings to trade Cousins and possibly Rudy Gay.
According to league sources, Karl and Cousins have not spoken the entire offseason. Cousins also tweeted three emojis late Monday: a snake surrounded by two patches of grass.
According to Yahoo, Karl is recruiting vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac and other players in an effort to convince majority owner Vivek Ranadive to sign off on trading Cousins.
Divac has said repeatedly Cousins would not be traded.
Though he put up good statistics, Cousins didn’t believe Karl was ever truly behind him in the way Malone was, according to sources close to the situation. They all feared Karl would eventually work to have Cousins dealt.
Karl was the choice of a front office he had little reason to trust. Management had fired the coach he respected, Michael Malone, and Karl was their guy? That didn’t set well with a player big on trust.
There were also the leaks to reporters suggesting it was Cousins who held up the hiring of Karl. Cousins was so enraged he eventually released a statement through his agents stating he had no say or power in the Kings’ coaching search.
Cousins’ agents were against hiring Karl from the start and initially the Kings were too, according to sources. Cousins was told by former general manager Pete D’Alessandro that Karl would be a bad fit, according to multiple sources.
Sources said it was Ranadive who would later push D’Alessandro to hire Karl, amid a season in a tailspin after Malone’s firing.
With the NBA Draft Thursday, the Kings will be forced to consider several offers bound to come in for Cousins.
Entering the season with a potential Karl-Cousins feud could wreck the season, and hurt the team’s positive talk of the new downtown arena set to open for the 2016-17 season.
Sources said Cousins’ reps have wanted him out of Sacramento since Malone was fired. And if Karl wants him out, the Kings might not have a choice but to deal their best player.