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Andy Furillo: If DeMarcus Cousins is a cancer, it’s time to get out the scalpel

Video: 'I'm not on the rollercoaster. I'm watching it,' says DeMarcus Cousins

"I'm not on the rollercoaster. I'm watching it," DeMarcus Cousins on Kings season.
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"I'm not on the rollercoaster. I'm watching it," DeMarcus Cousins on Kings season.

Now that sanity has prevailed with the coaching situation, the Kings need to come to terms with their best player, to balance his stat sheet with his public demeanor, and to make a decision whether they want him to continue to be the face of this franchise.

If that means trading DeMarcus Cousins before the Feb. 18 deadline, then do it. Why wait? If he’s truly a cancer on the team like half the town believes, then cut it out now, regardless of value received – although the Kings might want to put a call into the Clippers to see if Blake Griffin is available, minus his equipment manager/sparring partner.

Vlade Divac should know by now whether Cousins is a malignancy or just a series of passing cramps. But he’s just the general manager of the team. The only person who can really wield the scalpel is the managing general partner, Vivek Ranadive. Hopefully, the rapper Drake or actor Jamie Foxx or any of his other courtside buddies can advise Ranadive on this matter.

We all know the DeMarcus that we know. He’s arguably the best big man in the NBA, with his 26.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He’s been named to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season. He does some good things in the community. He’s a good dad and family man.

Then there’s the rest of what we know, and the main thing we know is that he’s lost more games than the ’62 Mets.

Now in his sixth year in the league at age 25, the Kings are 153-294 with Cousins on the roster. They have not come close to the playoffs with him. Despite being blessed as an individual talent, Cousins has demonstrated a career-long inability to make his teammates better.

To paraphrase Branch Rickey’s discussion with Ralph Kiner when the Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager cut the salary of the National League’s home run king, we finished 13th in the Western Conference standings with Cousins, and we can finish 13th in the Western Conference standings without him.

We’ve not seen Cousins in the playoffs, but we’ve seen him punch O.J. Mayo in the testicles and Patrick Beverley in the stomach – when neither of them were looking. He waited after a game to confront Sean Elliott “in a hostile manner” over the announcer’s comments about him during a Spurs game; the NBA suspended him for that one. The Kings suspended him in January of 2012 for his disrespectful demeanor toward coach Paul Westphal, who was later fired, and again later in the year for behaving the same way with the next coach, Keith Smart.

Cousins has demonstrated a career-long inability to make his teammates better.

Cousins should have been suspended, too, for blowing up at Karl in the locker room after a loss to San Antonio earlier this season. He’d been mad at the coach from last summer when Karl thought out loud about nobody on the team being above a trade. Cousins reacted to the remark with a tweet about snakes being in his grass. Upper management’s failure to dock him a game or two after the locker room outburst undermined Karl’s standing with the team, and we all know that, too.

We know about Cousins’ inability to deal with the officials. Along with all those double doubles in points and rebounds, Cousins has also hit double figures in technical fouls every year he’s been in the league. He has twice led or tied for the league lead in technical fouls and has not finished worse than fifth.

We’ve all read his body language, and sometimes it comes with a comment. Sam Amick of USA Today reported two years ago about the night at Sleep Train Arena when a fan yelled something at Cousins, possibly expressing an opinion that Cousins needed to pass the ball more. Amick reported that Cousins “reacted by allegedly grabbing his crotch and shouting a gratuitous expletive that was, to put it mildly, an inappropriate sexual suggestion.”

But in the DeMarcus Cousins world view, it is DeMarcus Cousins who is the $15 million-a-year victim. Sirius XM radio host Ric Bucher recently tracked him down at Mikuni’s to do a video on Cousins the sushi chef. In a one-on-interview published Monday on the Bleacher Report website, Cousins said, “I never get my credit.” Bucher asked Cousins when he thinks the public will fully recognize him as one of the greats of the modern game, he answered, “I don’t think they ever will.”

We all know about his demeanor – he shows all the joy of a coal miner going to work on a Monday morning. And we know whether he’s a winner – he isn’t.

Maybe that would change if he made it to the playoffs once or twice, or even once, or led his team to a winning season instead of year after year of acrimony.

As a rookie general manager, Divac showed he is growing into the job in his decision to put a sock into the stories that had been rolling since Saturday about him close to firing a coach who has 1,164 wins, fifth most in league history.

Now that Divac has made his decision on the coach for the time being, he needs to decide if it’s worth keeping Cousins for the long haul. Grant Napear on his radio program Wednesday asked Divac about Cousins’ recent lack of energy and effort, about “the moping, the whining” that continues to mar the big man’s game, and whether it bothers Divac.

“Does that bother me? Of course,” Divac answered, before wrongly spreading the blame to the rest of the team and diffusing the focus from where it needs to be – on Cousins.

It doesn’t matter if Cousins is great to everybody in his private life. His private life, really, is of no matter to us. What does matter is his public demeanor, what kind of leader he is, and whether he can get the Kings into the playoffs.

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We all know about his demeanor – he shows all the joy of a coal miner going to work on a Monday morning. And we know whether he’s a winner – he isn’t.

For the Kings’ benefit, for our benefit, and for DeMarcus Cousins’ benefit, maybe it’s time for him to move on, to a team with stronger forces that won’t stand for his negativity. Maybe the change will turn him into a winner. Somehow, the Kings will survive his loss and hopefully become one again themselves.

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Quincy, that's our heart'

Former King Isaiah Thomas had 22 points and nine assists on his 27th birthday to help the Boston Celtics defeat Sacramento 128-119 on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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