Hear from Coach Smart and Thornton as Cousins resumes practicing with the team. Plus, Blazers All-Star Aldridge compliments Robinson’s skillset.
Monday, the Kings reinstated DeMarcus Cousins after the center served a team-mandated suspension.
No. 15 was on the practice court following a morning film session, working on post moves and mid-range jumpshots with Assistant Coach Clifford Ray.
“He’s been reinstated, but that doesn’t mean he’s playing right away,” said Head Coach Keith Smart. “But he’s back around the team and came back today and apologized to the team and to me, as well. We’ll just move forward.”
The Kings leader explains conditioning was a key factor in clearing Cousins for practice, but reiterates reinstatement is the first step in the Kentucky product’s return to game action.
“The next step, we’ll go forward as I see fit on how we’re going to more forward with him getting onto the floor and playing,” said Smart.
Marcus Thornton says Kings players collectively welcomed back the big man with open arms.
“(We greeted him) like he’s our teammate, like he’s our brother,” said No. 23. “He apologized, he knew he was on the wrong end of things and hopefully we can get him back playing like DeMarcus plays.”
– During Sunday’s win over Portland, Kings rookie Thomas Robinson squared off against one of his longtime idols – Trail Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
“He’s one of the players (I modeled my game) after,” said the Kansas product, who’s averaging 10.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. “As far as post moves, being more versatile for his size, (he’s) one of the players (I study).”
Aldridge, complementing Robinson’s multidimensional skillset, says he’s recognized facets of his own game while going up against No. 0.
“The face-up game, the mid-range pick-and-pop – I definitely see it,” he said. “He’s skilled. I think he has a good upside. He can put the ball on the floor, he can make the mid-range (jumpshot). He’s someone who’ll get better in this league every year.”
Aldridge, reflecting on playing limited minutes during the first half of his rookie season, offers sage advice to the Sacramento draftee.
“Just work hard – when I wasn’t playing, I’d get there early, work out pre-game, play my five or six minutes and then I’d work out after the games, too,” he said. “I just wanted to work hard every day, so when I did get my opportunity I was ready for it.”
– In recent games, Smart has utilized a “small-ball” lineup, featuring guards Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette playing together in the backcourt.
“They have a unique still,” said the Kings leader. “(They’re) spreading the floor … they’re getting into the paint, both are trying to make plays for each other and they both are finding each other for jumpshots.”
Thornton says he’s enjoyed played alongside the hot-shooting pair in three-guard sets.
“It is (fun), because you just can’t key in on one guy,” he said. “(When) you have guys like Jimmer, Isaiah and other guys on the court who can shoot the ball, it makes it much easier. We play off each other, so that makes it easier, too.”
– While Smart says Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) ran on the treadmill, the guard remains day-to-day and is not expected to play in Portland on Wednesday.
Francisco Garcia (sore lower back) resumed practicing, putting up jumpshots with John Salmons after watching film.
“He finally had a chance to move a little bit, did some shooting and didn’t look like he was in any pain at all, so that’s a good sign for him to be back on the floor,” said Smart. “Now it’s a matter of getting his conditioning up, as well.”