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The Court Jester – Media Day musings, Cousins keeps ’em laughing

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With the season fast approaching, the Sacramento Kings held their annual Media Day on Thursday, December 15 at Power Balance Pavilion.

Every player had various duties on this busy day – multiple media obligations, shooting stand ups and bits for use in-game and even an open scrimmage, where fans across the valley will get their first chance at seeing this version of the new-look Kings.

With the addition of J.J. Hickson (via trade from Cleveland for Omri Casspi), the signing of free agent Chuck Hayes away from Houston and acquiring John Salmons via draft day trade involving Beno Udrih plus the drafting of three rookies in Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Honeycutt added to the three new assistant coaches added in the offseason. This could be the most changes that any one team has endured during one year.

Everyone that was anyone showed up at center court on the Kings home floor to get their time in front of someone’s microphone.

The Court Jester was there and gathered these thoughts about the upcoming season, the new team chemistry and the how the Kings will play during this season.

Coach Westphal on expectations on the season – “We’re going to be better! I don’t have any hesitation in saying that. I like our team and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Coach Westphal on the shortened time allowed for camp and the effect of trying to put in his offensive and defensive sets – “There certainly is a lot to put in in a very short period of time. I think it’s important to us not to proceed as if we’re rushed. We need to put everything out there and be solid without rushing all the details. They way I’ve tried to do that is to put in the big picture first and then tweaked the details that need tweaking. If we had a summer and a pre-training camp time and then a month of training camp, we might start with the details and build outward. Now we’re starting with the big picture and building inward. We’re trying to do that so we don’t feel rushed and if we can stay healthy, I think it will work for us.”

Donte Greene on the emotions of the last game of the year last campaign – “A lot of emotions. I had a lot of fans coming up to me crying and saying they hope we stay. I was always one of the guys that was a front-runner for us staying here in Sacramento. I’ve been here going on four years, my family loves it here, it’s a beautiful city, so really wanted to stay. Now that we’re here, we need to make sure we stay here and make sure we start winning.”

Donte Greene on the black uniforms the team gets to sport for a few games this year – “The black uni’s are nice. I think we should have had them before. I ask for them in my second year in the league. We finally got them and I think it’s a perfect time for them.”

Donte Greene on coming into camp in better shape physically and more mature as a person – “Just being a professional athlete. That’s another part of me growing up. Last summer, we weren’t really on top of things, so summer I made sure I staying down on my weight and and in 20 pounds lighter than I did last year. Just trying to stay focused. I’m hungry and I’m trying to get another contract to stay in Sacramento. So hopefully that happens.”

Bobby Jackson on his new role as an assistant coach – “I look forward to it. It’s a learning process for me and I’m willing to learn for both of the Jims (Eyen and Todd), Keith Smart and Coach Paul. For me, I’m the new guy coming in and these guys have years of experience and that’s what I want to gain. Gain that experience, gain that knowledge and just learn from probably the best coaches in the league.”

Tyreke Evans on who has impressed him so far out of the news guys – “John (Salmons) is pretty good. I like the pickup when we got him. He’s a three man who can score the ball and play good defense. I think he is going be a great help to this team. Jimmer and the rookies have come in and played well. So I’m looking forward to see how they will play in a game.”

Tyreke Evans on the improvements the team has made in team speed and overall shooting – “I think that is going to be one of our main focuses this year is to try and run teams out of the gym. It’s a short season so I think the more we push the ball, the better chance we have to win.”

Francisco Garcia on his early training camp impressions – “We look pretty good in training camp. Everybody is in pretty good shape. We’re growing well together and think we are going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

Francisco Garcia on how good this year’s group of guys are – “This is the most talent we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. We have a lot of talent. We’re learning how to play together and are doing a pretty good job in training camp right now. We’re focussing a lot on defense.”

Jimmer Fredette on getting some early time to impress in the scrimmage and maybe the first preseason game after Tyreke slightly tweaked an ankle – “I’m just going to do whatever the coaches want me to do and I’ll just try and earn my spot with the playing time given by showing them that I can play with this team and do whatever it is that they want me to in order for this team to win.”

Jimmer Fredette on early comparisons to Tim Tebow – “I’ve heard comparisons, but I still haven’t stepped foot on an NBA floor. I did some good things in college and he did some great things in college as well. I think one thing that is a little bit similar is the naysayers saying what type of position we are. That we can’t do what we did in college in the NBA or the NFL. That remains to be seen from me, but he’s been proving that the last seven or eight weeks with what he’s been doing. I’m just trying to out there and play well, play me game and be a great player for this organization.”
J.J. Hickson on leadership – “I think I lead by example. I think I’m going to take it upon myself to be more vocal this year. Being that I played in the playoffs and got to the Eastern Conference finals, I know what it takes to be that type of team, to be a playoff team and to be a championship caliber type team. I’m in practice going hard in every drill, getting my shots up before and after practice and just doing things a leader is supposed to do.”

Marcus Thornton on the happiness he shared with his mom after signing the Kings offer – “Tears of joy, not that boo hoo crap. It’s great to have an organization that wants you for long term.”

Marcus Thornton on making a splash last year – “It was great timing. I just tried to sieze every moment of it. I just tried to go out there and play hard and to the best of my ability.”

Marcus Thornton on what he needs to improve in his game – “It’s going to start with my conditioning. Getting myself ready to play night in and night out. Getting my conditioning to where it needs to be. Playing against these guys in this league, there are no days off. I’m just going to get my conditioning better and things will fall into place after that.”

Chuck Hayes on showing the Kings players what it means to be tough – “It’s my will to win. I’m a competitive person and I try my best to teach these guys just the little things – the importance of them. We all have talent and can all play this game, but late in the game, our concentration and execution is going to help us win games and we have to make winning plays.”

Chuck Hayes on his game resembling Charles Barkley’s game – “Charles Barkley was my favorite basketball player. Every since I was younger, I was always built like him. I used to follow C-Webb a lot because I lived in Oakland when he was with the Warriors. Then when I moved to Modesto, he went to the Kings so it seemed like I followed his career as well. I’ve always been an undersized guy, a very powerful player – it’s just the way I am. I’ve played the big position since I was little and I’m going to finish playing this game by playing the big position.”

DeMarcus Cousins on, well, whatever he wanted to talk about. He opened the media session by cracking on the media guys and jokingly answering the early questions directed his way – “So, you gonna all stare at me or ask me questions?”

Someone asked him what the biggest difference between last year and this year has been – “We got black jerseys, hello?? Next question! You can’t scare no one with purple – running down the court looking all majestic.”

Once Cousins settled in, he was his typical charming self.

Cousins on differences between being a rookie and now – “Feels good. I don’t have to carry that pick bag anymore.” (referring to his pink Hollie Hobbie backpack) “We’ve got a talented group. We’ve got some veteran leadership. There is a lot of positive energy in the locker room and around the city, so it’s gonna be a new look, a new year for us.”

Cousins on how he tweak his ankle in practice the other day – “I stepped on the midget’s foot – Isaiah. He was definitely in the way,” he jokingly said.

Cousins on how he stayed in shape during the offseason – “Why would I tell you all my secrets? I’m in shape, that’s all that matters. We good!”

Every time he opens his mouth, the gathered masses are ready to burst out laughing. The guy is extremely funny and intelligent at the same time and a real treat to get to cover.


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