DeMarcus Cousins striving to be a better locker room presence

Video: DeMarcus Cousins helps Kings end slump, says he’ll be ‘scapegoat’ if it means wins

Coach George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins talk about ending the losing streak.
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Coach George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins talk about ending the losing streak.

DeMarcus Cousins isn’t a great liar. He doesn’t have a poker face.

He freely reveals his feelings. Kings coaches and players don’t question Cousins’ motives, knowing frustration over losing especially riles up the All-Star center. Although his outspokenness sometimes can be a positive, his blunt delivery and timing have been criticized.

Cousins admits that his mastery of diplomacy is a work in progress.

“I’m trying to better myself as a person every day,” the former University of Kentucky star said. “I’d be the first to admit I’m not a perfect person.”

Cousins’ venting has raised the ire of teammates and coaches, including an outburst after a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 9. Cousins apologized publicly after word leaked that the rant was aimed at coach George Karl.

What’s different this season is more of Cousins’ teammates are referring to him as a leader despite criticism he might receive from outside the organization.

“He’s getting better by the day,” guard Rajon Rondo said. “He’s continuing to grow mentally. He’s a great kid and he’s a great leader. A lot of people don’t know what he does for this team, but he’s very positive. He has a lot of good things to say.”

It’s just a matter of how Cousins says those things.

“Cuz is a frustrated guy that wants to win,” Karl said. “Sometimes it gets to him in a negative way, but he cares and wants to win. He lashes out sometimes in maybe a disruptive way, but he’s doing it because he wants to win.”

Cousins isn’t trying to be a negative force in the locker room. He understands he’s expected to be a leader. He also knows he has to work at it.

When he was drafted in 2010, the Kings lacked veteran leaders who could mentor him. This season, Rondo and forward Caron Butler have the experience and credentials to advise Cousins.

“I bust my (butt) on a daily basis to be the best teammate I can be,” Cousins said. “My delivery isn’t always the correct way or other people’s opinion of the correct way, but my heart is always in the right place, always.”