The Sacramento Kings think DeMarcus Cousins can avoid his past mistakes and be the foundation of the franchise under new owner Vivek Ranadive.
The Kings and Cousins reached an agreement on a contract extension late Thursday night, a person familiar with the deal said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The Sacramento Bee reported the extension is a four-year, $62 million deal that will carry Cousins through the 2018-19 season. Cousins was eligible for an extension up to five years and $80 million.
The Kings had until Oct. 31 to come to terms on an extension to prevent Cousins from becoming a restricted free agent next summer.
Cousins averaged 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season. The 23-year-old center, drafted fifth overall in 2010 after one season at Kentucky, has been one of the NBA’s best young big men but also one who has drawn multiple suspensions from the NBA and the Kings for his behavior.
The new regime has insisted Cousins could flourish under new leadership.
Ranadive has praised Cousins since he bought the Kings from the Maloof family in May. New coach Mike Malone and general manager Pete D’Alessandro each called Cousins an “incredible talent” when they were hired this summer, too.
New minority owner Shaquille O’Neal said earlier this week that he had already initiated conversations with Cousins. The 15-time All-Star said he wants to help Cousins the way Phil Jackson helped O’Neal co-exist with others when he came to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
“When I look at a young DeMarcus Cousins, I see a young Shaquille O’Neal. Very talented, very stubborn in his ways,” O’Neal said.
Cousins has dazzled at times during his first three seasons and other times struggled with defense and discipline. Just last season, Cousins was reprimanded multiple times for his behavior.
On Dec. 22, Cousins was suspended one game by the Kings for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team” after an incident involving then-coach Keith Smart in the locker room during a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.
He was suspended one game without pay by the NBA for striking O.J. Mayo in the groin during a defeat at Dallas on Dec. 10. Following a loss at San Antonio on Nov. 9, the league suspended Cousins two games without pay for confronting Spurs announcer Sean Elliott in a “hostile manner.”
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