Sacramento Kings

Kings notes: DeMarcus Cousins spends time with team

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is still out indefinitely as he recovers from viral meningitis, but he has been around the team more in recent days.

Kings coach Michael Malone said Cousins has been able to talk to teammates but is still restricted from physical activity.

“I think being in the gym (and) being around his teammates (is good),” Malone said. “(He’s) just trying to get back to a somewhat normal routine without being able to do all the physical stuff and, hopefully, we can slowly start bringing him back. It’s just great to have him around. He definitely looks better to me.”

Cousins has dealt with headaches and the lingering affects of a spinal tap as he recovers. The team plans to take a cautious approach reintegrating Cousins.

“If we rush him back, it could trigger some things and make things flare up again,” Malone said.

Cousins attended Thursday’s game against the the Houston Rockets at Sleep Train Arena.

“This is really hard for him,” Malone said. “That’s one thing I hope everybody realizes. He is just an ultra, ultra competitor.”

Uniform statement – Several Kings wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts over their warmup shirts before the game.

They are the last words said repeatedly by Eric Garner, who died in July after being put in a chokehold by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Last week, a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death, sparking protests across the country.

Many Lakers wore similar shirts Tuesday when the Kings played in Los Angeles; many NBA players have worn shirts with the same words over the past week.

Rotation changes – Derrick Williams has seen his playing time increase after some strong showings off the bench.

That cut into the playing time of Omri Casspi, who started the season playing well backing up Rudy Gay.

Casspi didn’t play in the previous two games with Williams logging the minutes behind Gay.

“I rewarded Derrick the last couple of games because he played so well recently,” Malone said. “He came in the game, impacted it and I loved how he played.”

Thursday would have been an ideal game to play Casspi because of the small lineups the short-handed Rockets use. Casspi, however, did not dress for the game because of a left knee bone contusion.

As the season continues, Malone said either could see minutes behind Gay or they could play at the same time.

“It’s kind of a game by game right now to see who I feel gives us the best chance to win that particular game,” Malone said.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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