Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Kings need to save Cousins from himself

Ailene Voisin
Ailene Voisin

Enough already. Beyond enough already. DeMarcus Cousins has to cool down and cease with the temper tantrums.

Only weeks ago, he warranted serious consideration for his first All-Star berth. Only months ago, the new Kings ownership group committed to a multiyear contract extension. Only hours ago, he was ejected for the first time this season, his bad behavior once again becoming chronic, bordering on out of control, and diminishing months of terrific work.

Crash. Boom. Bam.

Those are the sounds of Boogie imploding.

The next time Cousins is tagged with a technical foul (he leads the league with 15) and receives an automatic one-game suspension, the Kings should double his pain. Make it a two-game suspension. That would be the sound of team executives raising their voices and telling their immensely talented young center to mind his manners.

His histrionics during the Boston Celtics visit last Saturday should have resulted in an ejection. His outburst Tuesday night against referee Courtney Kirkland, when he erupted after being assessed his fifth foul for bumping the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard, then had to be restrained by Kings assistant coach Corliss Williamson, was indefensible. His animated and constant complaining – he routinely approaches the refs to gripe about fouls, some that are lame, others that are legitimate – places an inordinate amount of pressure on individuals who already have an impossible job.

It is also terrible strategy. The refs see Cousins coming, frowning and gesturing, and struggle to maintain their composure. They get flustered and intimidated and distracted, and who can blame them? There aren’t too many 6-foot-11, 270-pound victims out there.

If Cousins was your child, of course, you would take away his cellphone, throw his video games into the trash, and send him to his room without supper … for about a month. But he is 23 years old and in his fourth season, which means he is an adult and a highly compensated professional. He is also bright and intuitive, and when not acting like a knucklehead, is a charming, engaging character in a league overdosing on vanilla.

Disappointed with the way I acted on the court tonight,” Cousins tweeted late Tuesday night. “ I want to apologize and say sorry to my team and the fans for letting them down.

Cousins’ actions during the third quarter obfuscated the fact that the Kings are disappointing and were absolutely dreadful against the Rockets. Fans began moving toward the exits early in the second half; several of those who remained booed as the players left the court. Some of the Kings’ marketing officials – who seem to work 24/7 and have done a masterful job selling tickets – appeared visibly dejected. The owners were clearly agitated as well.

During one timeout before Cousins erupted, majority owner Vivek Ranadive walked down the sideline and approached his minority partner, Mark Mastrov. The two men sat together for the duration, their mood reflecting the dismal performance on the court and, eventually, the departure of their best player.

“You got to put your hand in the fire to realize how hot it is,” Rudy Gay said. “Sooner or later, he’s going to figure out how hot it is.”

In fairness to Cousins, he is a unique and difficult player to officiate. Skilled low-post centers with muscular, below-rim games are on the cusp of extinction. And he’s right. There have been situations where the refs were too quick with the whistle, seemingly anticipating fouls or outbursts based on reputation.

But at this point in his career, he should rise above the nonsense. Again, he doesn’t have to be a leader, but he should be among the top two or three centers. He should be an All-Star, a member of the 2014 U.S. national team, and influential enough to persuade rookie head coach Michael Malone to implement an offense that utilizes his passing skills, emphasizes ball and body movement, reduces the number of pick-and-rolls, and eliminates the overabundance of one-on-one play.

Cousins is no fan of the death-by-dribbling system, either, but he can’t favorably impact his franchise if he can’t stay on the court. Once he exceeds 16 technicals and earns an automatic suspension, the penalty stiffens; a one-game suspension is then levied for every two technicals.

Enough already. More than enough already. The organization has to be more demanding. Double the penalty and deal with the Players Association later. Summon him to the boss’s office. The Kings need to catch Cousins before he falls.