There's leaving someone hanging ... and then there's this.
Sacramento had a chance to steal a road victory in the game's closing seconds, but a mid-range jumper by Cousins came up well short. After making the game-deciding free throw with two seconds remaining, Paul sought out his fellow point guard for a high-five after Thomas scored 22 points (on 5-for-12 shooting) and dished five assists in 33 minutes off of the Kings' bench.
Instead, Cousins intervened, pulling a surprised Thomas towards Sacramento's locker room. There was no turning back, not even when Paul continued walking towards the Kings' bench with a hand extended.
"He's young, man," Paul said of Cousins during a televised postgame interview on Fox Sports West. "He don't know no better. He needs some guidance. It is what it is."
Cousins, 23, received a lucrative four-year contract extension from the Kings in September and he's taken on an enhanced leadership position this season. Paul is hardly the first person to suggest that Cousins needs to grow up, as his list of run-ins with the NBA league office and referees is a long one: he was suspended two games for a postgame incident with Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott, he was docked one game for a low blow on Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo, he was suspended another game by the Kings for “unprofessional behavior,” he was ejected for delivering a flagrant foul 2 to the Mavericks' Vince Carter, he was ejected for arguing with the officials at halftime of a game against the Jazz and he was tossed for a flagrant elbow to Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy.
Believe it or not, this is the second handshake-related incident involving the Clippers this week. Byron Mullens refused to shake hands with Thunder rookie center Steven Adams by intentionally leaving him hanging during the closing seconds of an Oklahoma City Thunder victory. Adams hilariously made due by shaking his own hand.
Generally speaking, a snub is a snub is a snub, but Paul seems justified in feeling a little extra disrespected considering the circumstances. He's not only a veteran but an All-Star, and judging by his postgame praise for Thomas he likely had a message he wanted to deliver to the up-and-coming 24-year-old. A quick handshake after a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire isn't a sign of weakness on Thomas's end; really, it's just standard practice.
Refusing handshakes is one thing -- a petty thing, to be sure -- but making a huge show of it is quite another. Mullens should have obliged with Adams with a brief courtesy shake, but at least he didn't go out of his way to make a major scene about how he was avoiding Adams. Plus, even though Thomas is listed at 5-foot-9, he's fully capable of making his own decisions and he doesn't need to be treated like a child.
This isn't a major sportsmanship violation by Cousins but it's one that Paul will surely remember. The Clippers will visit Sacramento on Nov. 29, so circle that date on your calendar now.
Paul finished with 22 points (on 7-for-13 shooting), nine assists and six rebounds in 38 minutes. DeAndre Jordan added 17 points (on 6-for-6 shooting) and 12 rebounds for the Clippers.
Cousins finished with a game-high 23 points (on 10-for-22 shooting), 19 rebounds and seven assists in 38 minutes.