BROOKLYN — It’s all good between DeMarcus Cousins and Keith Smart, if the coach is to be taken at his word.
“I don’t hold grudges, I’ve moved on and I think he’s moved on,” Smart said Saturday. “I think maybe, maybe, he’s turned the corner and realizing that if you want to be a star in this league, All-Stars allow their other teammates to play and they make them better. Players who are not relatively good players become really good when star players allow them to have fun also.”
Back on Dec. 21, Cousins got into a verbal altercation with Smart and was subsequently suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Cousins missed the team’s ensuing home-and-home against the Portland Trail Blazers.
During that time, the front office mulled over whether or not they should trade him, and there was immediately an abundance of suitors.
Since then, though, Cousins has returned to the lineup and five games later, the Kings are 4-1. The team traveled to Brooklyn hoping for a victory over a Nets team that is 4-1 since it fired head coach Avery Johnson back on Dec. 27.
Moving forward, the Kings hope that this is the beginning of something bright and hopefully, the end of trade speculation surrounding Cousins.
During the five-game stretch, Cousins turned in a triple-double against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 30 and a 31-point, 20-rebound, four-assist effort against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night—both wins.
“Our team is different now, especially with the way Cousins has been playing,” Smart said.
Everyone agrees that Cousins is an amazing basketball talent, and that’s why the Kings drafted him with the fifth overall pick back in 2010. They did so despite questions about Cousin’s maturity and questionable attitude.
Having grown weary of his childish antics, the front office and ownership are reportedly split as to whether or they should cut their losses and trade Cousins or keep him so that the value of the franchise doesn’t plummet any more than it has over recent years.
Smart said that things with Cousins were fine. Over the last five, he’s averaging 19.4 points, 14 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.2 steals.
“Without question,” he said when asked if he and Cousins were in a “good place.”
“All my players, I look at it like a father-son relationship, like my kids relationships. We’re together more with each other than we are with our families and families have little disagreements and things like that, but you realize you still gotta live with each other and you still have to play with each other and that’s what this group has done and they’ve been this way all season long.”
When asked what the Kings have done differently lately, Smart gave a lot of credit to Cousins.
“Obviously, it starts with DeMarcus. They way he’s been playing, he’s allowed his teammates to play with him, not trying to do it all by himself early on. I thought he wanted the ball a lot for himself. I think now he’s seen that the game can be very easy and that he can be very efficient by letting his teammates play the game with him first.”
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops. Follow him on Twitter.