Yell at George Karl once and get your hand slapped.
Yell at the Kings’ coach a second time and get slapped with a costly one-game suspension.
The Kings on Thursday suspended All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for one game for what team general manager Vlade Divac called “conduct detrimental to the team,” making Cousins unavailable Friday against the Orlando Magic at Sleep Train Arena.
“Well, obviously, we tried to do our best thing to send a message that we cannot tolerate some stuff, you know, in the organization,” Divac said after the Kings practiced Thursday. “Obviously, he went a little far, and we had to do, you know, things to be on the same page.”
Sitting on the bench during a timeout in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 120-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cousins pointed and screamed at Karl. Assistant coach Corliss Williamson and forward Rudy Gay tried to calm Cousins, but Cousins continued to shout at Karl, 64.
Point guard Rajon Rondo then stepped between Cousins and Karl before Cousins returned to the court as he continued to make comments.
“This is something where he was emotionally overwhelmed and he did something he should not have done,” Divac said. “He’s a good kid, and I hate doing this. But I’m the general manager, and I have to do this sometimes ... hard stuff. I don’t blame him for his emotions, but it was the wrong thing to do.”
Cousins will lose approximately $179,620, based on his 2015-16 salary of $14.73 million.
He had 29 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday, but the Kings (25-38) lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Wednesday’s incident was the second time Cousins berated Karl this season. After the Kings were routed by the San Antonio Spurs and dropped to 1-7, Cousins directed a profanity-laced tirade at Karl in the locker room. Karl wanted to suspend Cousins for two games, but Divac overruled Karl, and there was no suspension.
As a rookie, Cousins missed a game after a confrontation with teammate Donte Greene following a loss on Feb. 13, 2011. Paul Westphal, Cousins’ first coach, then brought Cousins off the bench the next two games. The following season, Cousins was sent home from a game because Westphal said Cousins asked to be traded.
On Dec. 1, 2012, Cousins was ordered by coach Keith Smart to stay in the locker room after Cousins berated Smart during halftime of a loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles. Cousins was suspended indefinitely by the team and returned after two games.
The NBA has suspended Cousins for numerous infractions, once for reaching 16 technical fouls in a season (2014) and three times for excessive contact with an opponent, most recently last November for a forearm to the head of Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford.
Cousins also was suspended by the NBA for hitting then-Dallas guard O.J. Mayo and Houston guard Patrick Beverley in the groin.
Cousins and Karl have had a tenuous relationship since Karl was hired in February 2015.
During his Hall of Fame-caliber coaching career, Karl has been known to clash with star players, and many predicted he and Cousins would have issues. It’s why former Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro had reservations about hiring Karl, but principal owner Vivek Ranadive wanted a big-name coach after the backlash that followed Michael Malone’s firing in December 2014.
Cousins and Karl did not speak last summer after Karl wanted Cousins to be traded and questioned his star’s commitment to the team.
This season, many players have questioned Karl’s game plans, mostly on defense, with the Kings leading the NBA in most points allowed per game. There also have been questions about Karl’s up-tempo offense, which many believe does not suit Cousins.
Still, Cousins was named to his second All-Star team this season. He is averaging 27.4 points, fourth in the NBA, and 11.5 rebounds, fifth in the league.
The Kings, however, have lost 15 of their past 20 games and have dropped from eighth to 11th place in the Western Conference.