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Kings center DeMarcus Cousins adjusting to life on perimeter

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) takes a beating in the post. The team hopes to ease that by having him play away from the basket.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) takes a beating in the post. The team hopes to ease that by having him play away from the basket. rbenton@sacbee.com

It’s every post player’s dream, right? Forget the physical grind of playing in the paint, get out on the floor and show off some perimeter shooting skills.

DeMarcus Cousins is getting the chance to do that. But as the Kings’ All-Star can attest, dream becoming an on-court reality isn’t as simple as pulling up from three-point range whenever he likes.

Cousins will not be shunning the post this season. But coach George Karl has said he will move Cousins all over the court. That includes allowing Cousins to shoot threes.

So meet Cousins, the floor spacer. He has never liked being labeled as just a post player, so this season he will have the opportunity to show he’s more than that.

“I don’t really consider myself a center,” Cousins said. “I’m just a basketball player. There’s so much I can do on the floor. People get stuck on the word ‘center,’ ‘big man’ and (are) kind of ignorant to the situation. I can’t really worry about that. I just go out there and do my job.”

And like anyone else, when there are changes to the job, there is an adjustment.

“It’s weird kind of floating out there,” Cousins said. “It’s a different thing, but I know it’s going to help the team, too. It’s just something I’ve got to adjust to and get used to.”

Entering Saturday’s 94-90 preseason victory over Portland at Sleep Train Arena, Cousins had attempted seven three-pointers, making one. He scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting (0 of 3 from three-point range), and seven rebounds in 24 minutes against the Trail Blazers.

Seeing Cousins attempt more threes is the biggest change, but it won’t be the only thing he does differently. He’ll operate from several different spots on the floor to put pressure on opposing defenses.

“It’s fun, but it’s also a process,” Cousins said. “This is my first time, but this is what the preseason is for, to knock the rust off, figure each other out and hopefully prepare for how we’re going to play during the season. I think we’re on the right path.”

When Karl was hired last February, he said he thought Cousins could be just as good a face-up player as he is in the post. Karl was also intrigued with Cousins’ ability to dribble and pass the ball.

“I do have those skills but it’s still an adjustment,” Cousins said. “This isn’t just pickup at the park, it’s an adjustment.”

Cousins’ expanded freedom on the court will cause a problem for defenses. Teams that defend Cousins with a bigger player will have to deal with how to match up with him on the perimeter.

If teams counter with a smaller player, Cousins can work closer to the basket where his size and strength are advantages.

“I think Cuz will figure out a balance between what shots we want from him,” Karl said. “Some teams will let him go outside, some teams will let him go inside.”

The change should also benefit Cousins physically. If Cousins isn’t parked on the block, he won’t be subjected to the beating he’s taken tussling under the basket.

“Not so much dirty work on my hands this year,” Cousins said. “I think it’s going to help, but like I said, it’s an adjustment. It’ll take a little time. But when it’s clicking, nobody’s going to have anything to say.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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