DeMarcus Cousins, still recovering from viral meningitis, will miss a 10th consecutive game Tuesday when the Kings host the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins should be able to play Thursday against Milwaukee, according to a league source, but his minutes would be limited.
Cousins, the Kings’ leading scorer and rebounder, wonders whether his illness contributed to coach Michael Malone’s firing Sunday.
Philosophical differences were cited, but the Kings have won just two of nine games without Cousins.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like it was partially my fault,” Cousins said Monday after practice. “In reality it isn’t, but me personally, I feel like it is. Me being out, us losing some games, I feel like I played a part in it.”
Cousins said he is disappointed he will no longer play for Malone, especially because they developed a tight bond over the past year.
“I learned a lot from him. I’m very thankful to play for coach Malone,” Cousins said. “At the end of the day, we know this is a business. Everything doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. I wish nothing but the best for Coach. I hate it had to end this way. But he has my respect, because he’s a great coach.”
Cousins said he learned of Malone’s firing on Twitter and said he was stunned by the decision. Interim coach Tyrone Corbin will be Cousins’ fourth coach in five seasons.
“I think it’s a lot more emotional on the team this year because so many guys believed in Malone and his system,” Cousins said. “It’s just so unexpected.”
Corbin realizes the impact Cousins’ absence has had on the team.
“We were disappointed in the last nine games,” Corbin said, “ … but we understood DeMarcus is a huge part of what we’re doing, and we didn’t finish out some games we should have won.”
Jersey ceremony – Almost lost in the news about Malone’s firing is Tuesday’s ceremony to retire Peja Stojakovic’s No. 16 jersey.
Ben McLemore wore No. 16 as a rookie last season before switching to No. 23 this season.
Stojakovic is the Kings’ Sacramento-era leader in games (518) and trails only Mitch Richmond in scoring, with 9,498 points.
Stojakovic, Sacramento’s first-round draft pick in 1996, debuted in 1999 and made three All-Star teams.
Vlade Divac will attend the game.
More injury news – Forward Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) is doubtful for Tuesday’s game. He has missed the last two games.
Derrick Williams has backed up forward Rudy Gay in Casspi’s absence.