Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has defaulted on most every standard of athletic professionalism in his three-year NBA career. He clashed with two coaches — one a regrettable ill-fitting hire (Paul Westphal) the other promoted because of his bond with Cousins (Keith Smart) — and survived both of their firings. His body language is horrendous and tends to irk referees (Cousins led the NBA in technical fouls last season) as much as it does casual fans. He’s been suspended by his team and the NBA and allowed his frustrations on the court to boil over into postgame confrontations with teammates and broadcasters.

Still this is the player tabbed as being the face of the Kings and for good reason. Cousins who turns 23 in August may be petulant at times but few players have the skill to do what he does and even fewer are capable of matching his production. There’s room here for Sacramento to be concerned without overreacting and to address the problem without disregard for such a prodigious talent.


It’s for that reason that the Kings will be meeting soon with Cousins’ agent to discuss a possible extension of his rookie contract according to The Sacramento Bee. Talks alone don’t guarantee a resolution but a possible extension would represent a hard commitment from a franchise under new leadership. It’s fair to say that a max-level deal is in play and that many will question whether Cousins — who personality-wise is a loose cannon aimed in no particular direction — is really fit for such reward.

But the very notion of a “max” contract seems to foster misunderstanding as any deal that Cousins could sign would be decidedly cheaper than a potential max offer to a more accomplished veteran. Dwight Howard for example will make $20.5 million in his first year with the Rockets. Cousins on the other hand could make only an estimated $13.7 million in the first year of a contract extension (which could be worth up to about $80 million over five years) with some room for minor adjustment based on the 2014-15 salary cap. That’s a number that the Kings can likely live with for a player of Cousins’ caliber and if not they can rest assured that some other team can and gladly will. Even if no agreement is reached before the Oct. 31 extension deadline meaning Cousins would become a restricted free agent next summer the max offers are coming for him. All that remains to be seen is whether the Kings can sell him on a discount and whether the franchise is ultimately amenable to committing that kind of money to Cousins so soon.