LAS VEGAS, NV - Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins found himself once again auditioning for a role with Team USA's Men's Basketball team on Monday for the second straight year at Mendenhall Center on the UNLV campus.
Monday was also the first time Cousins spoke about his future with his Kings team. At the advice of his agent, Dan Fegan, he had refused to speak about the team and new management since the changes in ownership from the Maloof family to the new group led by Vivek Ranadive.
That advice was all but destroyed as the 22-year-old Cousins was peppered with question after question about his future in Sacramento, only this time he wasn't so silent.
"I do want to be a King, I do," Cousins said, following the practice session, in front of a large hoard of media. "I'm super excited (for) where this franchise is going and I'm glad to be a part of it."
That silence from the usually outspoken Cousins led many to believe that he was ready for change, especially after another losing season.
That strategy in place in hopes of landing a maximum contract extension to either remain in Sacramento, or be traded elsewhere. The belief thatCousins wouldn't be in Sacramento for long is due to sharing the same agent as Dwight Howard, who forced a trade from Orlando to Los Angeles, only to sign a free agent deal one year later with Houston.
When the question arose about a potential contract extension with the Kings, Cousins, who has one year remaining with Sacramento opted not to discuss it.
"I'm not focused on that, I'm focused on (Team) USA," Cousins quipped.
The deadline for a new contract extension is Oct. 31 and if it were a maximum deal, would be worth approximately $80 million over five years.
Prior to Monday, Ranadive flew to Mobile, AL alongside new general manager Pete D'Alessandro and head coach Michael Malone to meet with Cousins in his hometown, face-to-face.
Tired of another losing season following his third NBA season, Cousins said his message to the new Kings brass for the future was all about winning.
"The biggest thing we all agreed on is winning and that's all that matters," Cousins told News10. "We don't have to like each other, we don't have to be the best of friends. Winning - that's all that matters."
Experiences like this week's Team USA minicamp will help Cousins, who will turn 23 on Aug. 13, with his growing and maturing process. He hopes to learn to be a better leader and communicate better with this teammates.
"I'm an aggressive guy and sometimes I come off very aggressive to my teammates," Cousins admitted. "Not anything personal, that's just my personality."
Cousins picked up right where he left off last July as a member of the USA Select Team, who competed against the Team USA to prepare them for the Olympics in London. His aggressive and physical style of play wreaking havoc on other big-man teammates like Greg Monroe and Derrick Favors.
Cousins is one of ten players selected to participate for the second straight year.
Last season, USA basketball chairman called out Cousins' physical play and even questioned his maturity. Cousins immediately took exception to Colangelo's comments and confronted him about it. Because of that, it was a surprise to some that he would invite the Kings volatile big-man back.
"I'm happy that he accepted," Colangelo told News10. "We've put the situation from last season behind us. He came in with a positive attitude and he looks like he's in very good shape.
"Things happen, you set them aside, you bury these things and you move on...So, I never had a doubt I'd bring him back if he deserved to come back, and he did."
Cousins also agreed that the rift between he and Colangelo was turned into a bigger deal than it should have.
"I'm glad I had the chance to come back," Cousins said. "I'm going to make the best of the opportunity and hopefully it comes out well."
When asked what big-man on the squad gave him the most competition, Cousins coyly replied, "nobody."
It is his desire to ultimately be an Olympian, but first will be the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain next summer.
Practice sessions began Monday and will continue for three days before Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage at Thomas and Mack center on the UNLV campus.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net