DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended for one game by the NBA for throwing an elbow at Al Horford, according to a report from NBC Sports.
When Cousins was a star basketball player at the University of Kentucky, he was considered talented, but immature at times. That reputation followed him when he was drafted with the 5th overall pick in 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, who desperately needed a star center and a franchise player.
That immaturity showed up this week. During a game against the Atlanta Hawks, Cousins swung his elbow towards the head of All-Star center Al Horford, who started falling back upon contact. Immediately, the Kings front office and coaching staff knew that NBA officials were going to be reviewing that play and deciding if further punishment was needed.
Kings' DeMarcus Cousins elbow to Hawks' Al Horford pic.twitter.com/qpiWbbaxu6— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 19, 2015
After deliberation, the NBA decided that the incident was intentional. Cousins was suspended. Kiki Vandeweghe, who is the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA, decided to have the Kings center sit out a game. The league also announced that Cousins should have been ejected during that game against Atlanta.
With DeMarcus Cousins suspended, the Kings are going to be in a bit of trouble.
First of all, Sacramento is going to miss the production that Cousins has been providing this season. The six-foot, 11-inch center has been averaging 27.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. That is going to be hard to replace. His backups, Quincy Acy and Kostas Koufas, are averaging a combined 9.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. Solid numbers, but not enough to lead the Kings to a victory.
More importantly, the Kings needed Cousins to combat Hassan Whiteside. The Miami Heat center has blossomed into one of the best big men in the NBA. His averages of 15.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks are going to earn him a maximum contract from some franchise. With DeMarcus Cousins suspended, expect Whiteside to dominate the game and give the Heat an advantage over the Kings.
Cousins being suspended provides not only a short term problem for the Kings, but it also provides a long term one as well.
Their star center has been having issues with head coach George Karl. It has gotten to the point where Karl, who happens to be one of just nine NBA head coaches with more than 1,000 victories, is on the hot seat. Sacramento is going to have to choose between Karl and Cousins some day. The immaturity makes it hard to automatically go with Cousins.
Sacramento tried really hard to put a good roster around Cousins so that he can lead them back to the playoffs this season. They invested a first round draft pick to provide him with some help inside by drafting Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings even took a risk on Rajon Rondo because they wanted to provide Cousins with an upgrade at the guard position.
The rest of the supporting cast is pretty solid as well. Caron Butler and Rudy Gay are versatile veterans on the wing. Veteran guard Marco Belinelli brings championship experience from his time with the San Antonio Spurs. Darren Collison and Ben McLemore provide much talent to the back court. This should be a team that can compete for the last spot in the playoffs, even in the tough Western Conference.
Of course, none of that matters if Cousins can’t stay on the court.
[Featured Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]