Storyline: DeMarcus Cousins Free Agency

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Nate Duncan: “For the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, Boston and Los Angeles are in there…Are there any other teams outside of those two that could realistically get in that mix?” Chris Haynes: “No team is concrete. Obviously there’s some teams looking and lurking. L.A. Clippers, they’re being really aggressive out there. They’re looking at Kawhi Leonard. They’re looking at Kevin Durant. Obviously they’re monitoring the Anthony Davis situation, they’re monitoring DeMarcus Cousins – seeing how he’s gonna progress through the achilles injury.”

Cousins’ doesn’t. It isn’t a secret. His time with them will be brief. The Warriors are the powerful trampoline to the payday he had ripped away by last season’s nightmare injury. Cousins is the brass knuckles under Mike Tyson’s boxing glove, the extra force they can use to bully toward a fourth title. “I honestly don’t think about (free agency),” Cousins said. “I’m focused on becoming healthy. That’s my main focus right now. After that, it’s helping this team make another run. Everything that’s going to happen in the summer, I’ll wait until the summer.”

“Options are open, Pap, like anything,” Myers said Friday evening. “If you would’ve asked me a year ago before this if he was gonna be an option for us, I’d say, ‘No way, that’s crazy!’ But he came. He came for a lot less than [what] his market value was. “These type of predictions — good or bad — are pretty fruitless because you just don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to be going on on July 1, 2019. You don’t know if it’s going to be better than you think … but it’s not going to be what you think. So, with a guy like DeMarcus, who knows? If he wants to come back, let’s bring him back.”

One of those guys that’s coming up as a free agent was a free agent this summer. Signed a one-year deal, Kevin Durant. He could have signed longer. I think I predicted he’d sign a two-year deal to get a larger number. Any concern that he only signed a one-year deal and now he’s going to hit free agency? And he might hit it pretty hard next summer. Joe Lacob: That’s a two-edged sword, right? Sure, I think we would have liked to have had him be here longer, sign a long-term deal. On the other hand, we’re happy to have him. By him signing a one-year deal, it save us a little bit of money, actually, right? So, it allows us to do some other things. Like, maybe we wouldn’t have DeMarcus Cousins, right? As an example. KD’s been great. He’s my hero, man. He’s been a really good partner for us. He’s taken a little, as you know, a little bit of a discount over the last few years that has allowed to do a few extra things. I’m never going to forget that.

The Warriors have no such expectations with Cousins. Next summer — assuming they bring back either Klay Thompson, Durant or both, which would cap them out — they can only give Cousins a 20-percent raise, which jumps him from $5.3 million to around $6.4 million. If he returns healthy and looks like even 80 percent of the player he was before last January’s Achilles tear — an outcome both the player and team desire — Cousins will command way more than that max Warriors number, likely in the high teens per year. And he won’t be in the discount mood, understandably, considering all the money he lost out on this summer.

Question: So you just got a call that morning (you signed Cousins) — can you take us through how it went down? Bob Myers: We talked, I talked to his agent Jerry (Akana) in the morning, and he said: “What are you guys trying to do?” And I said: “What are you trying to do?” From there, I was honest, I said there’s not a lot we can do. Then hearing from there they were open to (taking the mid-level exception), that was the first moment where it looked like there was a possibility it would happen. Then I talked to DeMarcus pretty early that morning. That was really just the beginning of it, just (wondering) if it was something he’d really consider. Hearing his voice, hearing his conviction, it made it real to me.

“It’s a case of the rich get richer. Boogie never reached out to us,” said one Western Conference executive. “I don’t think it was a case of anyone trying to disrespect Boogie. It was more so shock. Like this guy is really available?” He continues, “It’s great for Golden State. Great for Boogie because he gets to rehab with the best team, basically have a strong second half … and get paid next summer. Great for them … terrible for the rest of us.”

Cousins to the Warriors will likely be a one-year experiment for an NBA powerhouse that has won three titles in the past four years. If Cousins is healthy and plays at an elite level, he can hit the free-agent market again next summer seeking a big contract. But Boogie to the Bay Area will soon be a reality. Believe it or not. “I feel amazing. The crazy thing is it has been tough for me. But I’m just happy to be with the champs,” said Cousins, who has never played in the postseason.

“I was f—ed up,” Cousins said. “I said to Jarinn, ‘Let’s make a call.’ He was shocked. It was very insulting to not receive an offer. But I understand. I prepared myself for this.” So around 8 a.m., Cousins said he called Warriors general manager Bob Myers. This is not a misprint. Myers cannot talk about free agents until they can sign with teams on Friday. But when Myers can speak, boy does he have a story to tell. Imagine Myers picking up his cellphone and a man with a deep voice says, “Hey, this is DeMarcus Cousins … got a minute?”
8 months ago via ESPN

According to Second Spectrum tracking, Cousins’ average touch last season saw him hold the ball for 2.6 seconds, far longer than the Warriors’ centers. Bell had the longest average touch time of those players at 1.7 seconds. For that matter, Cousins’ touches were longer even than those of Draymond Green (2.2 seconds on average). At the other end of the court, Cousins isn’t ideally suited for Golden State’s switch-heavy defense. Per Second Spectrum tracking, Cousins switched on just 46 screens all of 2017-18, 2.7 percent of the screens he defended. Even Pachulia, the slowest-footed of the Warriors’ centers last season, switched 13 percent of the screens he defended. So Steve Kerr will want to avoid putting Cousins in situations in which he has to switch.

Sam Amick on DeMarcus Cousins: “I don’t know much this is worth in terms of his decision-making, but I’ve definitely heard that [DeMarcus] is extremely interested, if not obsessed, with the idea of playing with LeBron James. That may be a little strong, but it’s a really compelling idea for him. LeBron has called him ‘the best big man in the league’ before and my understanding is that LeBron is, at a minimum, intrigued. I think he has questions about what it would be like to play with him, but respects the heck out of his talent. That’s an interesting possible landing spot for him… I wouldn’t be shocked if he went there. I’ll be honest. I know it sounds crazy, and we don’t know what that deal would look like, but it’s not even just his interest in LeBron. That’s [a factor], but this is sort of a perfect storm because he’s always had an affinity for the Lakers in general. When the Lakers were at their worst, they still interested DeMarcus. I think he would like to play on that stage… But the pragmatic thing [to do] is go back to New Orleans, but I don’t know what that deal would look like.”
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February 23, 2019 | 4:17 pm EST Update
Cuban offered advice to the next Williamson-caliber player who comes along, especially if it happens before the minimum draft age is lowered to 18. “The next kid in a similar circumstance, go to the G-League, or Europe,” he said. “If you want the international adventure and the exposure to a different type of basketball and different skill sets, go to Europe. If that’s not your thing and you’re not in-tuned to it for whatever reason, and you’ve got a big social media following like Zion Williamson? Go G-League.”
Cuban over the years has expressed concern about the life skills that even some one-and-done players have lacked when coming into the NBA after barely attending college before turning professional. “Got here, didn’t know how to write a check, didn’t know how to sign a lease,” Cuban said Friday. “Just needed somebody basically to hold their hand and it made things difficult for them. It’s hard to focus on your profession when you don’t even know how to focus on the everyday skills that are required for life.”