Kings Blog

George Karl has improved rapport with players he clashed with in past

George Karl and Gary Payton get along great these days.

But it took three years of butting heads when Karl was coaching the Seattle SuperSonics before he and the star guard got along.

It’s uncertain if Karl and Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will ever sit back and laugh at the tension between them.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac suspended Cousins for Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic at Sleep Train Arena after another verbal outburst aimed at Karl on Wednesday.

The Karl-Cousins relationship has been rocky, as many league observers predicted when Karl was hired in February 2015, based on Karl’s past clashes with star players and Cousins’ difficulty handling frustration.

“I’m the authoritative figure, and when you lose games, frustration evolves in many different ways, and sometimes it crosses the line,” Karl said. “Unfortunately, I’ve had many (difficult relationships) in my career, and fortunately some of them turned out to be very, very good.”

Karl said he almost fought forward Kenyon Martin during a playoff game when both were with Denver but that they are now on good terms. Karl said he also gets along with another one of his former stars, World B. Free.

Others, like Joe Barry Carroll, who was at Golden State with Karl, still do not speak to him, Karl said.

Karl said he had not spoken to Cousins since Divac suspended him but that he would when he sees him. Starting Sunday against Utah, the two will have at least 18 more games together.

Karl would not speculate on whether he and Cousins can move on from the latest incident.

“I can’t answer that question,” Karl said. “Hopefully, we can communicate and it gets to a good place.”

Cousins first yelled at Karl during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to Cleveland. Karl said he did not respond at the time because his primary job was to try to win the game.

That might not have been Karl’s approach years ago.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Karl said. “ … If you go back with anger, you’re going to trigger more anger.”

Back in action – Karl coached Friday, a day after a medical procedure to treat skin cancer on his neck.

Karl had a bandage on the left side of his neck but said the procedure was not “dangerous.”

That didn’t stop many from checking on Karl, who has survived throat and prostate cancer.

“You wake up with 20 texts, and my kids are yelling and screaming at me for not talking to them,” Karl said. “I’m glad it’s behind me.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at