“I was stressed out two weeks ago, and I just drove home,” a teary-eyed Cousins told The Undefeated after practice on Thursday. “It took two hours at the most. I saw my mom. Hung out at the house. I was mentally gone. I went back to my old neighborhood and hung out on the block. I saw some of my old people. I left there and felt amazing. I don’t know if it was being around that genuine love, it just kind of humbled me.
The Pelicans can only offer a five-year, $180 million deal, which is about $30 million less than what the Kings could have offered. How much does the potential financial loss hurt? DeMarcus Cousins: It was never about the money. I don’t play this game for money. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t play for the money. I had money before. I’m perfectly fine. To say it doesn’t help me would be a lie. Of course I want it. It wasn’t about the money. It never was. I wanted my legacy to end in Sacramento. I invested so much time and energy. Everything I had, my whole heart was into that city. Just for it to end the way it did, that was the part that was f—-. But it was never about the money. I don’t give a s— about the money.
Would it mean something to you if the Kings showed you some sort of appreciation, i.e., video tribute, when you play in Sacramento for the first time next season? A Kings source said to expect that. DeMarcus Cousins: I kind of expect it. The city was always great to me. The fans were always great to me. So I kind of expect it. It wouldn’t be a surprise. What would you tell Pelicans fans nervous about your future plans with the franchise? (Cousins can be a free agent in 2018.) DeMarcus Cousins: I’m more just excited about the moment. We’re all living in the moment right now. That’s all we can do. But as far as my [situation], I’m going to do what is best for me at the end of the day.
There is reason to believe the Mavs might have a shot at Cousins when he hits the free agency market in the summer of 2018. He can talk all he wants about how much he loves Sacramento, but nobody outside of California's capital city actually believes he wants to sign another contract with the Kings.
The Mavs made a pretty transparent attempt to butter up Boogie by bringing his younger brother, Jaleel, to training camp and signing him to the D-League Texas Legends. They also have a good relationship with Cousins' agent, Dan Fegan, although that didn't pay off when they recruited his previous clients Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.
That said, that won’t stop the trade chatter involving Cousins who won’t hit the free agent market until 2018 unless he works out a long-term extension in advance which is something Cousins would not rule out when I asked him about his future. “I got a season and a whole other season,” Cousins said. “I focus on these guys right here; I focus on winning games; I focus on making the playoffs; that’s it.”
Consensus among several league sources I asked about the DeMarcus Cousins/Sacramento situation: The Kings would trade him before the deadline if they were smart. The logic is that Cousins is extremely unlikely to return to Sacramento once he becomes a free agent.
In the process, there is a cloud of drama and the seemingly inevitability hanging over the franchise's head. Many people around the NBA expect Cousins to leave Sacramento when he becomes a free agent in 2018. "They're fooling themselves if they think he's sticking around," said one league executive. "The good news for them is his value will always be high. There isn't a point of no return in which you're not getting high value for him. Teams will bid against each other in the trade market. Maybe [Cousins] doesn't go for the biggest money in free agency but you'd love to have that card to play."