When DeMarcus Cousins returns to the court this season, the big man will give the Golden State Warriors five 2018 All-Stars in their starting lineup to chase another title — with Cousins trying for his first after never appearing in the playoffs.
The center, who has had past issues with technical fouls, reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Warriors last night. He is set to join a starting lineup of two-time MVP Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, fresh off his second straight NBA Finals MVP, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
As free agency began, Cousins was seen as one of the most intriguing names to watch this summer. However, Cousins tells The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears that he did not receive offers once free agency officially began at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday. Cousins was at his offseason home in Las Vegas and up early in the morning yesterday when an idea struck him, Spears writes:
It was 5 a.m. Pacific time on Monday morning and nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And a wide-awake Cousins was standing on the balcony of his off-season home alone.
“I was shocked. I didn’t believe it. It was a rough, pretty emotional night,” Cousins told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Monday night.
Just before the sun peeked in on another sweltering Vegas day, Cousins called his long-time agent Jarin Akana with a shocking plan. How about signing the mid-level exception with an elite team? How about giving the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors a call, despite the fact they already had four All-Stars, to see if they were interested?
“I was f—– up,” Cousins said. “I said to Jarin, ‘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.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported that Cousins chose between signing with the Warriors and Eastern Conference power Boston Celtics. Cousins declined comment on what teams were in his final mix. After getting the blessing from Durant, Curry and Green, Cousins said he called Myers after 5 p.m. and told him he would accept the Warriors’ mid-level exception.
“A winning culture and togetherness got us DeMarcus,” Durant told The Undefeated via text.
Cousins said: “This was my ace of spades. This was my chess move.”
Cousins’ Pelicans lost to the Warriors in a five-game Western Conference semifinals while Cousins was injured. The 27-year-old Cousins played in New Orleans for coach Alvin Gentry, a top assistant for Steve Kerr when the Golden State won the 2015 championship — the franchise’s first title in 40 years — and still a close friend and confidant of Golden State’s head coach.
Cousins tore his Achilles in late January and underwent surgery. He has posted regular updates on social media with the hash tags “The Resurgence” and “0 Doubt.”
“I been grinding since a youngin in the trenches this ain’t nothing new to me,” he wrote last month on Twitter.
Before his injury in February, Cousins expected to receive a five-year, $150 million contract extension from the Pelicans. Cousins, however, tells Spears that wasn't the case shortly thereafter:
But months later, a recovering Cousins said Pelicans general manager Dell Demps told him he did not plan to re-sign him. Cousins said other possible teams told his agent that he was not the right fit or they were worried about his injury long term.
Per Spears, Cousins spoke with several stars on the Warriors about considering a move there, which was more than well received by them:
After talking to Myers, Cousins said he spoke to Durant, Curry and Green, who is vacationing in Greece, to tell him he was considering joining the Warriors with the mid-level exception. A day after James shocked the NBA world by joining the Lakers and the Pacific Division, Durant, Curry and Green enthusiastically told Cousins they would welcome him to the Warriors with open arms.
“Steph was so freaking excited,” Cousins said. “Every one of those guys was excited.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Warriors would be the first team since Boston in 1975-76 to play five All-Stars from the previous season at the same time. That group was Jo Jo White, Charlie Scott, Dave Cowens, Paul Silas and John Havlicek.
The Warriors reportedly lost center JaVale McGee on Sunday to the Lakers, who landed LeBron James with a reported $153.3 million, four-year contract as the NBA’s free agency period began. However, in adding Cousins, the Warriors may have added the best center yet into this contending squad they boast.
Green, for one, is a huge fan of Cousins.
“He’s incredible. He can score the ball,” Green said in January 2017 at Sacramento when Cousins was still with the Kings. “I think DeMarcus is the best center in the game. A lot of times people don’t give him that credit. A part of it is they try to downplay his status because of his reputation or getting technical fouls or things like that. He is the best big man in the game hands down. It’s always interesting to watch, interesting to play against, interesting to play with, because he’s so incredibly talented.”
Just how unlikely was Cousins' decision?
According to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania, the Warriors didn't quite believe he was truly interested in joining them as contact first began. But talks developed rapidly on Monday, with Charania crediting phone calls from Green (on vacation in Greece), coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Meyers for sealing an improbable deal almost nobody saw coming.
The Warriors also partly didn't believe in Cousins' mutual interest at first. Agreement developed fairly quickly Monday -- after a few phone conversations -- with the reigning champions. https://t.co/W5wV1S0O8b— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2018
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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