Young Kings maturing but enduring growing pains
By Will Robinson
SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - Now that the grassroots "Here We Stay" campaign has been completed, "Here We Win" must happen for the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings.
Following a handful of seasons clouded with possible relocation, the team began its first season permanently entrenched in California.
When tech developer and philanthropist Vivek Ranadive bought the team last May, he replaced longtime general manager Geoff Petrie and head coach Keith Smart with former Denver Nuggets executive Pete D'Alessandro and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone, respectively.
Led by DeMarcus Cousins, the scrappy Kings hope to turn around a season that is off to a nightmarish start, even if wins and losses aren't featured on the rubric of success.
"If you look at our team, I don't know a guy that competes harder than DeMarcus Cousins. I don't know a guy that hates losses as much as that man," D'Alessandro said of the team's cornerstone big man after Tuesday's 107-104 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns.
Before the 2013-14 NBA season, the fourth-year player out of Kentucky received a four-year, $62 million contract extension. The enigmatic 23-year-old has flashed dominance early in the campaign but has been inconsistent in his three previous seasons. Through 11 games this season, Cousins is averaging 21.5 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game.
The decision to give Cousins a lucrative contract received mixed reviews. Yet the front office had no doubts about placing the franchise's future in Cousins' big hands. Continued...