New Orleans Hornets at Kings: Game 5 aka the game that DeMarcus Cousins “stayed” home

Today, the next authoritative loss for the Kings will be to the Eric Gordon-less Hornets. (Eric Gordon is the Hornets best player in case you didn’t know.) Because that seems to be the only things the Kings are interested in these days.

I’m interested to see how the two former Houston Rockets Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry battle though. Other than that, I’ll skip the pleasantries here. I don’t feel like it, and I imagine you don’t either.

The Kings ORtg meter is at 100.8 (20th) and DRtg meter is 113.1 (29th). Here is the Hornets roster at Basketball-Reference assuming you care to look at it.

 

 

Required Reading

Ailene Voisin of the Bee has this to say:

The NBA reality is that Westphal, whose contract expires at season’s end, has to find a solution to this mess sooner rather than later. But it has to be said once again: the Kings do not have a facilitating point guard and are not particularly proficient from the perimeter. A starting lineup of Evans, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons – based on their particular skills – is dribble-heavy and isn’t going to win any assist or perimeter shooting contests.

The pieces simply might not fit, which places increasing emphasis on the March 15 trade deadline. Nonetheless, the Kings can overcome some of their personnel flaws with youth and depth – and most importantly – energy and unselfishness.

Jason Jones of the Bee with a Tyreke Evans quote that sums it up well:

“We just look lost,” Evans said. “We’re just playing off our natural talent to get our points. It’s terrible right now. We’ve just got to figure something out.”

Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune interviews Carl Landry and his feelings upon his return to Sacramento:

“When I went back to Houston, I got a standing ovation and everything like that,” Landry said. “They appreciated the work I did and the commitment I had in Houston. We’ll see. We’ll definitely see how it’ll be in Sacramento.”

Later in the piece (and just as importantly), Landry had this to say about Westphal and the franchise:

“It was rough. It was definitely rough,” Landry said. “Going into a situation where you had a team full of rookies and second-year guys, a new coach (Paul Westphal), it was definitely tough. But I’m glad I had an opportunity to play there. I wish them the best.

“They had a good team while I was there, and they do now, and a good coach, so they’ll definitely be turning it around. They’ve got good ownership. Everything will be OK in Sacramento.”

Needless to say I hope the fans appreciate Carl Landry a nice round of applause even though his play left a bit to be desired at times. None of that was because Landry lacked professionalism.

From Ryan Schwan of Hornets 247:

Now, I’ve said before that teams rely too much on isolation or are selfish, but this year the Kings are showing who the real masters are when it comes to selfish basketball. No player on their team is averaging more than 2.8 assists. The best assist-to-turnover guy on their team is big man Chuck Hayes, and not one guard reaches the purely average 2 assists per turnover ratio you’d want in a competent ball-handler. The Kings end up taking contested shots, and since they have an awful defense (currently the 2nd worst in the league), they pay for it. In truth, the only efficient scorer they have on their team right now is Marcus Thornton, who is brilliantly aggressive but is not going to help in establishing the balanced attack the Kings so desperately need.

Stathead Final Thoughts

The only 3 players with 30 mins or more (excluding Tyler Honeycutt) and have a TS% higher than 50% (last season’s average TS% was around 54.5%) on the Kings roster are Marcus Thornton (149 minutes * 58.4 TS%), Jason Thompson (59 minutes 58 TS%) and JJ Hickson (79 minutes 54 TS%).

You’re not going to win many games if you can’t get quality shots (or just even open looks) at a reasonably efficient rate. Additionally, by missing so many FT’s you have players like Tyreke Evans (136 minutes 46 TS%), DeMarcus Cousins (108 minutes 40.6 TS%). This has got to change if the Kings want to reverse the recent trend. How they do that? I’ll leave that up to someone smarter than I am.

Game is at 6pm. It’s on some outlet that you may or may not receive where you live. Choose to be grumpy because then you will at least have a choice. Go Kings?  

UPDATE:

From Paul Westphal:

“Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction. As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life!

As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.

Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public. This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.

DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight.”

The DeMarcus Cousins situation, which is obviously a major problem, will be over analyzed and over talked about for awhile on Twitter and elsewhere. My opinion? Cousins absolutely deserves every bit of criticism about his immaturity and bad attitude. I’m not sure if anyone else other than Cousins has been agitating to replace Paul Westphal in the lockerroom (and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case), but I’m 100% positive that Cousins after last night’s comments puts Cousins squarely into that limelight.

Is Paul Westphal losing control of this team? I think the better question is, why would you assume Westphal ever had control of this group in the first place? Especially given Cousins’ difficult personality and nature combined with Tyreke Evans’ difficulty to translate his talents into a flowing smooth NBA offense. Ugliness? Yes. Is it surprising? Not really, no.

I just hope that within time some of this can be smoothed over and the season can get the gettin’ on. Because truthfully, and one of the reasons I was against drafting Cousins around drafttime, the drama around Cousins doesn’t seem to stop. And, well, has it stopped since he was a King? I promised to not harp on this, but now seems as a good time as any to say that this kind of risk with Cousins was always there. Because the risk hasn’t actually managed to uphold the reward, I would say at this point Cousins is rather disappointing. Whether or not you think Westphal is at fault, it’s clear that Cousins’ has been doing everything in his power to start an uprising to get Westphal fired behind the scenes.

For the Kings sake, I wouldn’t fire any head coach on DeMarcus Cousins’ say so. And if the Kings do fire Paul Westphal because of Cousins’, it’s not likely to get any better at any point in the future let alone soon. Lots of ugliness here, and unfortunately that’s the breaks of the game.  

UPDATE 2: Sam Amick has a piece up at SI.com with Cousins’ agent John Greig saying this:

“DeMarcus never demanded a trade,” Greig said by phone. “I’m surprised the Kings — if they believe the player wanted a trade — wouldn’t have made a phone call to his representative. Maybe Westphal is just feeling the heat early this season.”

This is what you call damage control. But, as I keep will telling anyone who will listen to reason, firing Westphal has little at this point to do with the long-term future of Paul Westphal with this organization. Unless the mother of all miracles happens, it’s difficult to see how Westphal is retained as the head coach.

UPDATE 3: James Ham has more of the story here that, more or less, is what it is depending on your viewpoint.

Before the game, Westphal elaborated on the Cousins situation, “He can only have so many chances and something has to be done. And it’s time something has to be done.” Westphal is not sure if Cousins will travel with the team on their two game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Memphis. He did say that Cousins needed to do some “soul searching” and that he hopes that, “DeMarcus has a change of heart and joins up with full reinstatement, that’s really up to him and I hope that.”

It’s been said before and will be said again: A sad sorry situation.

UPDATE 4: Jason Jones tweets the following:

Message from Kings org: Cousins needsd to grow up, be a professional and that team is not against him.

Asked Geoff Petrie if the Kings intend to trade Cousins. His answer: “No.”Plans to meet with Cousins tomorrow.