DALLAS – The Kings’ two previous meetings with the Mavericks this season kind of sum of DeMarcus Cousins’ career so far.
The 22-year-old big man’s phenomenal talent was on display. Cousins torched the Mavs for an average of 27.0 points on 61.3 shooting in those two games, showing off an amazing arsenal of skills for a 6-foot-11, 270-pound dude.
It’s that ability that makes the Mavs one of several teams that would love to deal for Cousins when/if he wears out his welcome with the Kings.
It’s his immaturity that could lead to Cousins’ exit sooner than later from Sacramento/Seattle, although all signs are that it won’t happen before the Feb. 21 trade deadline with team’s ownership in a state of transition.
Cousins landed a no-look punch below O.J. Mayo’s belt Dec. 10 in Dallas and drilled Vince Carter with a forearm to the head a month later in Sacramento. Cousins claimed accidental contact both times, but it’s painfully clear that his infamous temper got the best of him in both instances, leading to a one-game suspension for the Mayo hit and an overtime ejection for the Carter crack.
“He’s one of them guys that he reacts sometimes emotionally and physically when it comes to something that don’t go right for him on the court,” Mavs vet Shawn Marion said. “But get him around some older guys, he probably could get that under control.”
That’s exactly what the Mavs’ front office is thinking.
The belief is that Cousins would benefit greatly from the leadership and consummate professionals such as Dirk Nowitzki, Carter and Marion. The Mavs also place a lot of value in their franchise’s culture and support staff, including sports psychologist Don Kalkstein, although last season’s Lamar Odom saga proved that there’s no such thing as a foolproof team culture.
And the Dallas decision-makers have a lot of confidence that coach Rick Carlisle could fully tap that immense potential of a young player who is averaging 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds despite his issues. Cousins, who was briefly suspended by the team after butting heads with inexperienced Kings coach Keith Smart, has a clean record of non-basketball-related behavior.
Cousins, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014 and recently switched agents to Mavs-friendly Dan Fegan, ranks among the NBA’s biggest knuckleheads at the moment. But there aren’t many more talented big men – and none his age.
You’ll never hear Carlisle comment about potential trade activity, but he makes it clear that he has a great deal of respect for Cousins’ game. Carlisle, who got into a heated exchanged with Cousins during a timeout at the AAC earlier this season, raves about the “diversity” of Cousins’ skill set.
“He’s got tremendous ball skills for a guy his size – great driver, drives under control, terrific finisher, underrated passer, shoots the ball well from outside and is a force on the inside,” Carlisle said. “There really is no part of the game that he is not adept at. He rebounds well. He just does a lot of things very, very well.”
Cousins could probably do all those things better and more consistently in Dallas. It’s a matter of the Mavs’ front office figuring out how to get him here.