DeMarcus Cousins and the NBA's Sacramento Kings appear to be breaking up as the club told Cousins to stay home rather than attend what turned out to be a victory over New Orleans.
Cousins, a center who was selected fifth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, had asked to be traded and was not with the Kings when they defeated the Hornets 96-80 on Sunday, improving to 2-3.
"DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game."
Westphal said he hopes the 21-year-old big man will rethink his position and join the Kings, with whom he averaged 13 points and 11.3 rebounds in four games.
"I hope that DeMarcus has a change of heart and joins up with full reinstatement," he said. "That's really all up to him. This will give him the best chance to do that.
"It's something I think the team can use to band together which is the most important thing for a new team."
Cousins was suspended last February for starting a fight on an airplane with a teammate and had been fined over a dispute with a conditioning coach. Westphal indicated there was more behind-the-scenes trouble with Cousins.
"Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public," said Westphal. "This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling or unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.
"As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates."
The Kings need all the improvement they can get. They have not won more than 25 games in any of the past three seasons and have not reached the NBA playoffs since 2006.