demarcus cousins

Michael Malone walked into the interview room, sat next to majority owner Vivek Ranadive and didn’t dance around the overriding issues:

Defense and DeMarcus Cousins.

That’s where it starts, with a two-step outline. For the Kings’ annual appearances in the NBA lottery to end, Malone insisted, the defense has to be a factor instead of indefensible, and Cousins has to reward his new bosses – who are planting their feet firmly on his side of the fence – and fulfill his immense potential.

“At the end of the day, these players are all going to have a choice to make,” Malone said during his introductory news conference Monday. “You’re either going to embrace the change or you’re going to resist.”

As he approaches his fourth season, Cousins remains the great divide, which makes him Malone’s No. 1 challenge. There are those who believe Cousins will benefit from the ownership and organizational changes and mature into one of the game’s most dominant big men. But there are those who stare at his 6-foot-11, 270-pound frame, are scared off by his frequent outbursts and expressive demeanor, and wouldn’t let him near their foxhole.

Here, though, they’re all in. Malone wants Cousins as his cornerstone. Ranadive wants Cousins on the floor and in his foxhole, and he wants Cousins to become a familiar figure in his native India.

“I’d like nothing better than a billion Indians to know who DeMarcus Cousins is,” Ranadive said.

Reported by Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee