DeMarcus Cousins made headlines earlier this season when he found himself at odds with Kings coach Paul Westphal over whether or not the second-year big man had asked the team for a trade. However, since Westphal was fired early in January, Cousins has adjusted admirably to new coach Keith Smart. Cousins is so comfortable with the team and its new coach that he told Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida he hopes to stay with the Kings long-term.
"Absolutely, this is where I want to be," Cousins said. "I'm loyal to the city. I'm loyal to my fans. I'm loyal to my team. I'm loyal to the organization."
After struggling a little early in the year under Westphal, Cousins has blossomed into a double-double machine, boosting his season averages to 16.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.2 BPG. While the Kings have gone just 10-21 so far, the 2010 fifth overall pick has been a bright spot for the team, and he gives Smart credit for his development.
"It's been incredible," Cousins said. "I've learned a lot. I've become a better player just from him taking over some things, and I enjoy playing in the system. … Everything is great. Everything has been positive."
The Kings have picked up Cousins' $3.88MM option for next season, and figure to exercise their $4.92MM option for 2013/14 as well. Cousins will be eligible for restricted free agency following that season if he hasn't signed a long-term extension with the Kings.