Due to the proposed Virginia Beach arena deal, I have kept a close eye on the Sacramento Kings during this NBA season. Unfortunately, with a record of 12-20, there has not been much on the court for Kings’ fans to follow. However, the Kings have made a variety of news headlines off the court.
With the potential move, the Kings have a number of questions that need to be addressed as the team moves into 2013.
The Proposed Arena Deal: Although it has been rumored that the Kings would become the likely tenant of a potential Virginia Beach arena, a deal is still in the process of being worked out with a possible tenant. If an agreement is reached, then Virginia Beach city officials can make a pitch to state lawmakers at the upcoming General Assembly session for $150 million to help build the arena. The General Assembly session begins next Wednesday.
The Kings are rumored to be the most likely tenant, given that a deal for an arena in Sacramento fell through last year. The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, have refused to comment on a potential move. However, March is the deadline for the team to file for NBA relocation.
If this move is going to happen, more concrete decisions concerning the deal should be made in the near future. Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms has actually set a Monday deadline to have a lease signed with a professional sports team. If a lease is not signed by Monday, then he will pull the plug on the city’s arena efforts for this year.
DeMarcus Cousins: Next to the arena deal, Cousins has been the other main reasons that the Kings have made headlines this season. Cousins has become the poster-child for what’s wrong with today’s athlete. As a player, Cousins is immensely talented – he leads the Kings in points (16.6 per game), rebounds (9.9 per game), and steals (1.48 per game). However, despite his talent, Cousins has shown a level of immaturity that in many ways overshadows his playing ability.
Cousins’ issues began last season during his rookie year under then coach, Paul Westphal. At one point during that season, Westphal sent Cousins home from a home game versus the Hornets. Cousins then reportedly demanded to be traded from the Kings, a report that he later denied. Shortly after the incident, Westphal was fired by the Kings, with many speculating that his tumultuous relationship with Cousins being a factor in hi s dismissal.
Cousins’ most recent run-in came on December 21, 2012 after he exchanged words with head coach, Keith Smart during halftime of the Kings’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Smart bench Cousins for the second half of that game and ordered him to remain in the locker room. Cousins was then suspended by the team for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.” Cousins missed one game before being reinstated by the team.
In the five games since Cousins returned to the team, he has averaged 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. He also tallied the first triple-double of his career on December 30 against Boston when he finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Kings are also 3-1 in the four games that Cousins has played in since returning (although he was reinstated, he did not play on December 26 versus Portland).
For more discussion concerning DeMarcus Cousins and his situation in Sacramento, check out this interview provided by ESPN’s TrueHoopTV.
Tyreke Evans: When the Kings drafted Tyreke Evans, many thought that he would become the face of the Kings franchise. Evans became only the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists during his rookie year. However, Evans’ numbers have slowly dipped in each season since then. Evans is currently averaging a career-low 15.1 points per game during this season.
Evans has missed 13 games this season due to a sore left knee. He recently received a second opinion on the knee from Dr. Steve Lombardo in Los Angeles. Lombardo supported the team’s treatment and rehabilitation plan. Evans will rejoin the Kings in Toronto and the team hopes that he will play in their upcoming five-game homestand beginning Monday against Memphis.
Evans will be a restricted free agent after this season and the Kings have to decide on whether they will offer a contract extension. In addition to the decreased production, Evans’ injury issues are now a concern, especially in light of his given contract situation. The Kings chose to wait this past offseason and did not offer Evans a contract extension. Many players who are “playing for contracts” seem to have big seasons prior to receiving a new deal. It will be interesting to see whether or not Evans can shake his injury issues and have a big year. If not, he could be an interesting piece in a potential sign-and-trade deal during this upcoming offseason.