When the Sacramento Kings hired George Karl, the prevailing thought is that they would get better with him. The veteran head coach had one of the most talented big men in basketball in DeMarcus Cousins and a roster that had some young players that could fit his style. It was not going to be an easy transition with Karl, as many saw and assumed when he took over. But given time, it was thought that Karl could take this roster and with a few changes make them competitive in the West. They started off slow under his tutelage, going 11-19 in 30 games after the All-Star break. But heading into this offseason it was expected that he would be building this team up so they could be even better this offseason. Unfortunately, news has come out that he is trying to break this team down. Recently, it was reported that the Kings were shopping their best player, center DeMarcus Cousins. And many reports have the brainchild of this move to get rid of Cousins being Karl. Crazy as it sounds, he has been going around trying to recruit different members of the Kings front office to unite with him to ship the young and talented center elsewhere. The most recent rumor has the Kings trading Cousins to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way deal that also involves the Orlando Magic. Even though details are sketchy at this time, it is believed that Magic center Nikola Vucevic may be the big guy coming back to Sacramento to replace Cousins while Orlando would obtain the 2nd overall pick. This deal would be something that would bolster the Lakers while giving the Kings a center that is talented but not on par with the talented Cousins. Karl would be ecstatic to get rid of Cousins and Cousins is apparently done with Karl due to him not being able to trust him. Reportedly Cousins has had teammates tell him of Karl’s desire to get rid of him. Karl is a great coach, but underneath that, he is exposing another side of himself.
Karl has always been known as a coach with a solid reputation amongst players to those that have observed him around the league. But apparently, there is more than meets the eye with him. There have been a few players that he has had run-ins with that were not directly spoken upon apparently. In case you have not noticed, Karl has been painted as a snake in the grass by a few players over his coaching career. Players for him or recently traded by him to another team have said they needed to cut their grass during their careers. For those that don’t know, when someone says they need to cut their grass, it does not necessarily mean they need to do that literally. It means that they want to expose the snakes that are out there and they need to move a few things out of their way to make them visible. While players like Andre Iguodala and Carmelo Anthony have come out and said his name, they have alluded to Karl by if you put two and two together. And DeMarcus Cousins is the latest to join in with that phrase. If anyone knows Cousins, he is big on trust. He trusted his coach at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Mike Malone. Cousins was playing good and was also being more disciplined on the court. But when Malone was fired, the unraveling began. It was almost as if the Kings ownership sabotaged themselves. And in doing so, they ruined any chance of success that team had last season. The funny thing is Malone got fired when Cousins was injured. It would have been understandable if they were doing horrible with Cousins on the floor, but that was not the case. Cousins lost control as the season went on and reverted back to his old behavior. And with that, Karl is now back to his snaky ways going behind Cousin’s back trying to get the Kings to trade him. But trading Cousins will not be as easy as Karl may think.
In the Kings front office, they want to build around Cousins. They see the enormous talent and potential that he possesses and feel that a team with the right pieces around him can bring success to the Kings. The main person that has been steadfast in wanting to keep Cousins is Sacramento Vice President of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac. The veteran who once played for the Kings has stepped into the organization and is essentially one of the loudest voices heard in the organization. Many times he has been asked about the availability of Demarcus Cousins and he has repeatedly said that Cousins is going nowhere. Divac is bent on keeping him in Sacramento no matter what they may be getting offered. But the thing that has to be bothersome is his head coach wanting to trade his best player. Karl has probably been in Divac’s ear since the end of the season if not sooner. And over this time, it seems as if Divac’s answer has not changed one bit. The question remains with Divac and Karl as to how their relationship goes in conjunction with Cousins. Both Divac and Karl have been around the NBA a long time. But Divac does have one thing over Karl: he was a player in the NBA. And in this instance, it pays off because he can call on former players that he played with or against and ask him about the reputation of Karl and what all is going on. Some of those calls could be to guys like Gary Payton, Ray Allen and Sam Cassell. Many forget that Divac was not really around when Karl was hired. In fact, he was hired to his position almost one month after Karl was hired by the team. Essentially, they were guys that had not worked together and the owner paired them in Sacramento despite not knowing how they would get along. And in this instance, the owner helped create some friction amongst the organization. Divac and Karl’s relationship will probably be revealed even more as this goes on. But from the outside looking in, it looks like both management and ownership are on different pages. And for a team building, that isn’t a good thing.
The temperature is starting to rise in Sacramento between Divac and Karl. They brought Karl in to be the coach and Divac to be a main player in the front office and both share different thoughts on a team apparently. In the end, Divac has been put in a tough position not even three months into his job. He has to choose between his best player in Cousins and his recently-hired coach that he inherited when he took the job. Essentially this is a three-ring circus that is close to spinning out of control. And the onus goes to the owner who helped create it. It remains to be seen who will win this power play, but it seems like Karl is fighting an uphill battle. Management wants Cousins there and Cousins does not trust Karl anymore after this fiasco. One will have to go and will have to leave soon. But will the Kings get a deal they cannot refuse or will they side with Cousins. That will be the question that will have to be answered very soon because this is getting out of hand in Sacramento.