After Kevin Durant stiff-armed the Wizards this free agency by not even meeting with the team, Wizards fans turned their hopes to another player that they might be able to acquire via a trade. DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is having one of the best seasons of his career but the Kings, tucked away in Northern California, still remain a non-factor in his seventh season.
Wall and Cousins were teammates together at Kentucky for one season on an uber-talented team that had five players drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft. Now, the two are stuck playing for struggling franchises with little hope of title contention. So when the two spoke about playing together, unsurprisingly, Wizards fans started salivating over the two joining forces in D.C. to salvage the swing and a miss on Kevin Durant.
Two All-Stars and former teammates teaming up again sounds great, right? But let’s pump the brakes before we hypothetically team up two All-Stars and pencil them into an NBA Finals. Don’t forget Wall and Cousins couldn’t even make it to the Final Four together on a team that featured three other future NBA players.
On paper, trading for Cousins sounds great. Cousins is becoming an unstoppable force and arguably one of the best centers in the league. However, there’s a good deal of baggage that comes along with that. There are certain franchises in the NBA where players with either on the court or off the court issues can go to and fit in almost seamlessly. Washington is not one of those franchises. So the Wizards would be best suited to smash the ‘Boogie to D.C.’ chatter before it picks up any momentum.
To put it bluntly, Cousins is a hot head. He’s a ticking time-bomb that can go off at any moment. He’s now playing for his sixth coach in seven years and for one reason or another, has never seen eye to eye with any of those guys. Feuding with one coach, you can let that slide. But, six? There’s clearly an issue there.
Earlier this month, he got into a confrontation with a News Reporter, which could have taken an ugly turn had Garrett Temple not stepped in and calmed the situation. And let’s not forget that he leads the league in technical fouls so far this season with nine. If he were teamed up with Wall, this could go one of two ways. Pairing them together could potentially take the edge off as only one player would need to carry the bulk of the load in racking up technical fouls when a disagreement with a ref occurs. Or this could compound into something bigger. Keep in mind Wall has already racked up eight technical fouls of his own. No matter which way you put it, there’s too much risk.
The Wizards have gambled on flamboyant, loud, and hotheaded players before and none of them have worked out. Let’s revisit some of the players with checkered histories that didn’t work out.
Arenas, one of the best players in Wizards franchise history has to lead this list.
Arenas averaged a career-high 29.3 points in 2005-06 season as it looked like the Wizards were turning the corner as a perennial contender. But as great as Arenas was on the court, he was equally as big of a migraine in the locker room and off the court. Arenas was a prankster which was mostly fun and games but sometimes he took it too far. Cutting player’s suits into hundreds of pieces, spraying a teammate with a hose while he’s going to the bathroom, pooping in Andray Blatche’s shoe, and the infamous GunGate.
When one guy is involved in a prank, the other guy usually retaliates. Arenas and Nick Young had an ongoing prank war and if you scroll through Instagram, it looks like that feud is still going on. What seemed like innocent fun and games ultimately snowballed into Arenas bringing guns into the locker room, then mocking the situation afterward.
Think any of these antics would fly in organizations such as the Spurs, Warriors, Cavs, or Celtics? Nope, but the Wizards continued to gamble on Arenas because he was scoring baskets.
Who would have thought that a guy who prefers to go by ‘Swaggy P’ wouldn’t have worked out?
Arenas and Young were a match made in heaven, or, the circus. Young came into the league in ‘07 and quickly joined Arenas as co-pilot of the clown mobile. Arenas and Young got along so well because they are nearly identical; players with loud and flamboyant personalities who like shooting the ball, a lot.
The irony was, Young was turning into a reliable scorer for the Wizards during the ’10-’11 season as he was putting up 17.4 points per night, the second-best average of his career.
So even though Young was turning into a very solid NBA player, he was part of the mass overhaul that took place after GunGate. The Wizards sent Young, a first-round draft pick to the Clippers during the 2011-12 season.
Again, the Wizards gambled on a player with character issues only to ship him away after one of the best seasons in his career. And let’s not get into the latest Snapchat fiasco involving him and D’Angelo Russell.
McGee didn’t do anything egregious off the court while on the Wizards. Rather, he was more known for his weekly appearances on “Shaqtin a Fool”. The Wizards drafted McGee in 2008 as one of their first ‘science experiments’ that management thought they could turn into a reliable player.
To McGee’s credit, it looks like he’s finally found a home in Golden State as a role player coming off the bench. However, it took him nine years and being around a winning culture (who would have thought) for him to come into his own.
McGee just had one slip up off the court while in Washington as he and Andray Blatche got into a fight outside of a club in D.C.
However, his time here will be remembered for plays like these.
Blatche’s biggest issue in Washington was his relationship with the front office. Blatche often felt as if he was the scapegoat for the Wizards struggles.
As mentioned, Blatche and McGee got into it after a night out on the town. However, while with the Wizards, many of his issues were in-house. Blatche mimicked the Arenas gun incident prior to a game against the 76ers. And a couple of years later, Blatche came into the season out of shape and was benched due to what the team called, “lack of conditioning”. Blatche felt as if the Wizards were deliberately trying to tarnish his career.
The verdict is out on if that was the case or not. However, it’s tough to have a successful business relationship when you feel the other party is out to get you.
Crawford was supposed to be a big part of the Wizards turning the page on the Gilbert Arenas era. And things were going great at first. Crawford, who always had a neon green light, led the team in scoring 17 times during the 2013 season and was turning into the go-to scorer for this team.
However, when John Wall came back from injury during the 2013 campaign, Crawford’s minutes diminished and that didn’t fly with ‘Steez’. Once it was clear that Wall and Beal would be the focal points of this team moving forward, Crawford voiced his displeasure and had the body language to back it up.
After receiving a DNP-CD, Crawford threw his jersey into the stands and that’s how his time in Washington would come to an end as he was then traded to the Celtics. Crawford’s issues on the court are a microcosm of Cousins’. If the Wizards couldn’t handle the mini fire that was Crawford, how would they be able to keep Cousins from combusting on the sideline?
The above players didn’t work out in Washington for essentially the same reasons; not everything was clicking upstairs. The only difference between Cousins and these guys is that outside of Arenas, Cousins is an All-Star and an Olympic Gold Medalist.
He’s a double-double machine, has added a three-point shot to his arsenal, and is a perennial All-Star. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that these flamboyant and hotheaded players don’t work out in Washington. Do the Wizards need help? Absolutely. But DeMarcus Cousins isn’t worth the headache.