Kings give Cousins 4-year extension
The deal is a four-year maximum contract for the mercurial big man, one season short of the five-year max Cousins was eligible to receive. It also includes no team or player options, meaning Cousins will be locked in with the Kings through the 2017-18 season.
The Sacramento Bee first reported the agreement, which takes effect starting with the 2014-15 season.
ESPN.com reported this week that Cousins was on course to receive an extension well in advance of the Oct. 31 deadline for 2010 first-round picks, with strong sentiment on both sides to strike a deal before the Kings open training camp Tuesday in Santa Barbara to remove the issue as a potential distraction for the franchise as it reboots under new owner Vivek Ranadive, its new front-office tandem of Pete D'Alessandro and Chris Mullin, and new coach Mike Malone.
Cousins joins Washington Wizards guard John Wall, Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders and Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George on the list of 2010 draftees to receive extensions. Wall and George landed five-year max deals; Sanders signed a four-year deal worth $44 million.
D'Alessandro, who had been scouting the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia, returned to Sacramento this week to join Ranadive in resuming negotiations in earnest Thursday with Cousins' agents Dan Fegan and Jarrin Akana.
Cousins has averaged 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds while frequently flashing his unique gifts for a player his size, but he has also led or been near the league lead in fouls committed throughout a career marked by defensive struggles. Cousins' volatility has likewise resulted in multiple suspensions, including a team-imposed ban last December for what the Kings termed unprofessional behavior, which is largely why Sacramento insisted on a four-year deal instead of a full five-year max.
But the consistent praise Cousins has received from Ranadive since his ownership group won a battle with Seattle to keep the franchise in Sacramento had made it widely assumed in league circles that the Kings were prepared to make a long-term commitment to the 23-year-old. Sacramento is now banking on the notion that the security it has extended, as part of the fresh-start feel circulating throughout the organization, will lead to a more plugged-in Cousins.
After announcing the addition of future Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal as a minority owner and mentor to Cousins this week, Ranadive told USA Today Sports: "I don't want to say anything premature [about an extension], but I've been constant in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They're out there practicing on their own every day and he's out there leading those practices. He's out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. [The players] all came to Sacramento early. I don't know if that's ever happened."
Other 2010 draftees labeled by league executives as likely (or at least potential) extension candidates include the Utah duo of Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, Detroit's Greg Monroe, Phoenix's Eric Bledsoe, Boston's Avery Bradley, and Sacramento's Greivis Vasquez. The 2010 first-rounders who don't sign extensions by Oct. 31 will be restricted free agents in the summer of 2014.
Cousins was the fifth overall pick in 2010 after one season under John Calipari at the University of Kentucky. He averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds last season, but various clashes with coaches and teammates and a wavering commitment to defense have led some to question whether he can live up to a max deal.
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