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DeMarcus Cousins is not worth the baggage

You crane your neck just to catch a glimpse of her from your desk as she enters the crowded office every morning. You want to talk to her, but you end up spilling coffee on yourself as you desperately hope a natural disaster occurs at that instant to level your building, so that you do not have to endure any further embarrassment. She's so sweet, though, she doesn't ridicule you-- in fact, she hands you a napkin to clean up with, and that's when you see it.

She's married. Not that it matters. She's so unbelievably smart, funny, beautiful, sweet, fashionable, and just plain cool there's no way she could have been single, or even remotely interested in you even if she was. You assume she's married to some dashing doctor with a heart of gold; Some perfect dude with J Crew looks, writes poetry and loves to cook, but is still masculine enough to build a cabinet and scratch your face with his five 'o clock shadow. You imagine they live in a beautiful house together with a big yard and dogs. They have a Architectural Digest subscription, go for long walks by the water, and wake up Sunday mornings and do the crossword puzzle together. They are simply perfect.

Then she walks into your company's Christmas party with Charlie Sheen, half a fifth of vodka, a puke-stained Ed Hardy bag, and a black eye.

We all know that girl. She's the one that is hopelessly attracted to the bad boy, the asshole, the douche bag. She could be that girl in your office, a classmate, your dog-walker. Maybe she's a friend of a friend or even your sister. Regardless, you know at least one such girl, and you absolutely cannot for the life of you figure out why she is wasting time with jerk after jerk.

Well, as strange as it seems, this unexplainable phenomenon occurs in the sports world, too. Teams can become so intoxicated with a player's talent or potential that it blinds them from some serious red-flags.

The Bengals of the 2000s have been that girl. The infamous Portland "Jail Blazers" of the late '90s and early 2000s fit the bill. And the University of Miami football teams of...any decade, really, are basically the Sandra Bullock of recruiting.

Right now, the Detroit Pistons are that girl and the douche bag is DeMarcus Cousins.

You're probably thinking, "How can the busted-ass Pistons possibly be the hot chick in this thinly constructed analogy?" Well, say what you want about the Pistons of the last few years--I sure have-- but the fact of the matter is that Detroit is looking pret-ty good from across the crowded office floor.

They finally have some organizational stability with new owner Tom Gores. They have a coach in Lawrence Frank who's experienced and a straight shooter. And believe it or not, they have a pretty nice core of youngsters --Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Rodney Stuckey, and Brandon Knight-- to build around.

Are they going to suck this year? Yes.

Are they going to suck next year? Probably.

Are they ever going to not suck and inch their way back into contention this decade? Maybe.

Not exactly a resounding endorsement, but that "maybe" turns into an "almost certainly not" if Pistons GM Joe Dumars does what many Pistons fans are clamoring for: Trading for DeMarcus Cousins.

There is no doubt that Dumars has been enamored with the talented, but emotionally volatile, center. He worked hard to try and trade up in the 2010 draft to acquire him. Cousins's laundry list of behavioral shortcomings, questionable work ethic, and numerous run-ins with coaches, teammates, referees, and trainers date back to his high school days. If Joe D wasn't scared off by the litany of red-flags a year and a half ago, he certainly wouldn't balk today.

But he should.

There is no question that he is doing his due diligence now that Cousins has requested to be traded from the Sacramento Kings. A near-seven-footer under 22 years old that is as talented as Cousins becoming available is definitely worth a phone call or two. However, Dumars would be wise to press the pause button on his love affair with reclamation projects.

Yes, it's worked in the past. The Rasheed Wallace of 2004 was basically in the same situation as Cousins is in today. Both 6'11" with unique skill sets, both burning the bridge with teams that took chances on them. There are some key differences, however:

1. Wallace had spent eight productive seasons in the league (one with Washington, who pulled the plug very quickly, and the other seven in Portland) and had developed a reputation as an unselfish teammate. His problems were largely off the court or with referees. Cousins doesn't seem to get along with anyone. His petulance transcends technical fouls and Lithuanian teammates, and is nearing TO levels-- without the production or track record.

2. The 2004 trade that brought Wallace to Detroit came at a time when the Pistons had strong veteran leadership in the form of Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace. They also had a Hall of Fame coach in Larry Brown that happened to be from Wallace's alma mater (UNC), and whom he had tremendous respect for as  a coach and as a man. Cousins had problems with Rick Pitino, an accomplished and respected coach himself, during his one year at Kentucky. It is doubtful Cousins even knows that his current coach with the Kings, Paul Westphal, had a long and successful career as an NBA player and a decent run as a head coach with the Suns in the 90s.

3. Because of the coaching of Brown and the veteran presence of Billups and Ben Wallace, the Pistons of 2004 were on the verge of being serious championship contenders. They were looking for that one extra piece, and could afford to take a gamble on Rasheed Wallace. This year's group of Pistons are far from championship contention, and are looking for a major piece to build around. Would you put your franchise's future in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins?

4. The Rasheed Wallace trade was completed with Detroit giving up little more than some spare towels and a bag of balls. If the Pistons were to make a move for Cousins it would cost a lot more than that. Sacramento would presumably require one or more of the following to even begin talking: Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, or a first round pick. Monroe and Knight are class acts that have loads of potential, great attitudes, and are very coachable. Next year's first round pick could very well net the Pistons a big that is as good as Cousins is (Jared Sullinger, anyone?).

Right now, the Pistons-- or at least their fans-- are indeed that hot girl in your office. It'll be different with us. He can change. I know he's done nothing to prove it, but deep down he's a good guy. Ok, I admit it, he's a royal douche bag, but he's just so darn cute-- I mean, talented!

I know-- I said those same things last June when Dumars tried to draft him. But it's been less than two seasons and he's already been sent home by the Kings? The Pistons don't need that type of abusive relationship. Although there are going to be some growing pains over the next season or two, I'd much rather wake up to breakfast in bed with Greg Monroe, work on the crossword with Brandon Knight, and take a long walk on the beach with Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey, than to be stuck cleaning up DeMarcus Cousins's puke.  

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