Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

December 23, 2012
Gameday: Kings vs. Trail Blazers

I'm very curious as to how the Kings respond to playing without DeMarcus Cousins, who has been suspended by the team indefinitely.

Privately players have wanted coach Keith Smart to take a harder stance with the third-year center. Someone summed it up with me saying if you think Cousins' is a handful in games, you should see his act in practice.

Well if Cousins is that taxing on his teammates, I expect to see a very energized Kings team this evening.

*Then there is Cousins firing his agent, John Greig and deciding to be represented by Dan Fegan.

This is a complete change in thinking by Cousins. His reasoning for going with Greig had been he didn't want to be another client of another big-name agent.

Cousins was Greig's only big-name client. Greig made looking out for Cousins well-being a priority. He visited Cousins regularly (he was in town this month), cooking meals and was important in making sure many of Cousins' off-the-court needs were met.

Greig was one of Cousins' biggest defenders, speaking on his behalf even when Cousins appeared to be clearly in the wrong and did his best to present Cousins' side in controversial situations.

But even Greig has had trouble getting through to Cousins lately.

Enter Fegan, whose recent history with the Kings includes not liking the team passing on his client in the 2009 NBA Draft (Ricky Rubio) for Tyreke Evans. Fegan became Kevin Martin's agent and later was instrumental in getting Martin traded to Houston in 2010.

Fegan's name was prominent last year after he became Dwight Howard's agent. There was a public spat with the Orlando Magic over who was leaking information about meetings to the media, too.

Of course, Howard was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Kings have been reluctant to deal Cousins. He's been considered the key to the Kings' rebuilding project, but on the court he's regressed this season while the off-the-court issues have accelerated.

Teams that have been interested in Cousins in the past include Houston and Detroit. But would Houston want to break up what they've built for Cousins now?

It would be assumed any deal with Detroit would involve Greg Monroe, but at this rate you might argue Monroe is the better player and doesn't bring the drama.

Fegan also has a good relationship with former Kings assistant general manager Jason Levien, who is now a part of the Memphis Grizzlies. So expect some talk of Cousins landing there to come up, too.

There's no denying Cousins' talent and several teams figure to inquire about Cousins, believing they have the right environment for Cousins.

Let the speculation game begin.

*Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) is out today.

*Some changes to the probable starters for Portland that were in the newspaper today.
Wesley Matthews (left hip) is out. And LaMarcus Aldridge played last night so expect him to start at power forward and for J.J. Hickson to start at center. Sasha Pavlovic is expected to start for Matthews.

*The Kings list Chuck Hayes as the probably starter at center, but Smart would not confirm that yesterday. I went with Travis Outlaw because he started the last time Cousins was suspended.

TODAY'S GAME

Kings (8-18) vs. Trail Blazers (13-12)
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Where: Sleep Train Arena
• TV: CSNCA
• Radio: 1140, 950

THREE KEYS

• Teamwork: The Kings will be without their top two scorers. DeMarcus Cousins is suspended, and Tyreke Evans (sore knee) remains out. Everyone must chip in on offense.
• Clean the glass: The Kings need a team rebounding effort. They struggle in that area when healthy; without Cousins, the job will be tougher.
• Small ball: The backcourt duo of Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette has been effective lately. The Kings might have to play them together, regardless of any defensive mismatches.

PROBABLE STARTERS

KINGS

No. Player Pos.
3 Aaron Brooks G
23 Marcus Thornton G
5 John Salmons F
25 Travis Outlaw F
34 Jason Thompson C

TRAIL BLAZERS

No. Player Pos.
0 Damian Lillard G
3 Sasha Pavlovic G
88 Nicolas Batum F
12 LaMarcus Aldridge F
21 J.J. Hickson C



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