The best center in the league or the angriest man in the NBA? A reporter’s worst nightmare or the man who fed 300 people in need over the Thanksgiving holiday? A constant trade rumor or a franchise centerpiece? A man who has never heard of The Beatles but is an R&B artist?
Halfway through his 7th season in the NBA, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is somehow still one of the NBA’s most perplexing and controversial stars. But let’s clear up one question mark – the Sacramento Kings have squandered the first half of Boogie’s career.
Boogie was selected by the Sacramento Kings 5th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was an immediate success averaging 14 points per game securing him a All-Rookie Team selection. The Kings had found the franchise center, another piece to play with their 2009 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. A 21 year old Evans paired with a 20 year old Boogie – the future of the Kings was bright right? Apparently not. In 2013 the Kings traded Evans to the Pelicans in return for Grevis Vasquez. The Kings had a chance to sign Evans for a four year $44 million dollar contract but passed on it to hold on to Vasquez for just 18 games before trading him once again. This move however did give the Kings a chance to put Isiah Thomas in a more prominent role with the team – yes that Isiah Thomas, the one who has Boston firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt. Isaiah Thomas was one of six players in the 2013-2014 season to average 20 points and 6 assists a game for the Kings. So naturally the Kings traded him for the rights to Alex Oriakhi. Never heard of him? That’s because he never made it up to the NBA.
So what does this have to do with Boogie? Everything. Outside of Boogie the Kings don’t seem to know what basketball talent is if it was standing right in front of them. Since 2007 the Kings have had 11 first round draft picks, 8 of them in the top 10. Of those 11 picks only 5 are still with the franchise. The Kings can’t draft, trade, or find a coach. The Kings have had 8 different coaches since 2007. Instability and lack of talent have brought the Kings to where they are today.
The Kings roster is currently supporting Boogie with Rudy Gay, an incredibly inefficient one dimensional player. But that’s pretty much it, and Gay is undergoing surgery on a torn Achilles this week. The rest of the roster consists of a host of other NBA players who are either at the end of their rope (Ty Lawson, Matt Barnes, Arron Afflalo) or players that just aren’t going to be anything more than a role player (Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein). Boogie is really really really good at basketball but he needs help. No, the Kings aren’t going to enter the NBA arms race and grab two higher caliber All-Stars overnight, but how about at least a running mate to start? Boogie is too good of a player to not have a chance to shine in the spotlight. The perennial All-Star has a franchise that believes in him, now he needs them to support him by opening the checkbook for a real co-star. And if the Kings aren’t ready for that Boogie may need to move on.
Boogie is under contract through next season but will be an unrestricted free agent after that. This offseason will be the time for Boogie to make his decision. If Boogie wants a new place to call home the most likely time for it to happen is this upcoming summer, giving some team a one year window to impress him enough to sign a massive contract extension. If Boogie wants to stay he can sign a five year extension this offseason with the Kings. Boogie is all the Kings have to fill seats and sell tickets, so if no major management changes happen soon it’s easy to surmise that their strategy will be to keep their star. From an outside perspective this is probably the franchise’s best option as well; Boogie is a top ten talent in the league and those don’t come around very often. Just ask the 76ers who took 4 drafts to find their centerpiece in Embiid. So what it really is going to come down to is the big man himself. What does Boogie want? Does he want to team up with former teammate John Wall? Does he convince management to pony up and get him some teammates? Only time will give us the next chapter of the Boogie saga, but one thing is for sure: don’t blame the last chapter on Boogie.
And let’s be honest – you’d have an attitude problem too if your team was playing 36 year old Matt Barnes 25 minutes a night.