2018 Free Agency
Making sense of DeMarcus Cousins' reported deal -- one (pseudo) Tweet at a time
Warriors, Pelicans saw their center fortunes change suddenly Monday night
This was, originally, a Twitter thread.
And then, I thought: well, that’s stupid. It’s a column. Write it.
But, do it in Twitter form … ‘cause that’s what the millennials like!
So, here goes:
- In free agency, multiple things that seem contradictory can be true. In the case of @boogiecousins (DeMarcus Cousins), did he not get a single offer from any of the other 29 teams (including @PelicansNBA) before he made a deal w/the @warriors on Monday? Long thread, including speculation, follows.
- The answer could be yes & no. (Before I go further: I am not in any way questioning either Cousins — I respect Boogie & we’ve always been cool — or my dude @MarcJSpearsESPN (Marc J. Spears), one of the best journos in the game. Don’t @ me later saying I did, ’cause I’m telling you I’m not.)
- So, how? First, remember: everyone in the NBA had to wait on what @KingJames decided before most teams could proceed with their free agency plans; there is a ripple effect created by what superstar players w/choices like James and @Yg_Trece (Paul George) decide to do.
- There are/were numerous free agents on the “next” level below guys like James, @KDTrey5 (Kevin Durant) and George, who have/had to see where the guys on the top level go before deciding on the teams they sign with, which in turn impacts players on the next level below them, and on and on.
- Those decisions also impact teams. After the top FAs commit, others often find themselves scrambling to make a deal — and after a few days out in the cold, they’re often willing to sign for less than for what they initially were asking. And many teams wait for such bargains.
- Second: this doesn’t include other factors like the ongoing Kawhi Leonard/San Antonio Spurs situation, which directly impacts the offseason decisions of a contending team like Philly, for example — and, obviously, San Antonio. Bottom line for all, though: it’s LeBron first, then everyone else.
- If James had picked @sixers or @cavs, for example, L.A.’s money commitments/roster construction for 2018-19 would obviously be different. (Most people thought James would go to L.A.; I get that. But his reps did take a meeting with the Sixers Sunday. People do change their minds.)
- Anyway: the likelihood is teams told Cousins they had to wait. Or, ‘all we have is the mid-level (whichever version of the mid-level exception they had available depending on space) & it’s all we have until we know what the Lakers do.’ Are those “offers?” Everyone seeks ambiguity in July.
- So: when Cousins’ reps sought concrete offers, those teams that were interested — given that Boogie is still rehabbing — likely said: ‘we have to wait.’ And even though LBJ likes Boogie’s game immensely & the Lakers wanted him, I’m guessing they still were working on a number.
- The Lakers cleared cap room Monday by renouncing Julius Randle and could have stretched Luol Deng to make more. But, they didn’t. Maybe Cousins didn’t want to wait; maybe the Lakers wanted max flexibility for ’19. Whatever the reason, they didn’t commit to one another when they had a chance.
- What about the Pelicans? A league source says New Orleans did make a two-year offer to Cousins after he suffered his season-ending Achilles’ injury — but the offer came at the end of the Pels’ season, not this past weekend. (Don’t know specifics on the offer, like options, etc.)
- Cousins’ camp said he wanted to test the market and see what else was out there. Which was/is understandable. The Pels, not wanting to negotiate against themselves (not that they had a choice, given that Cousins was/is a UFA), didn’t change their offer.
- My guess: Pels’ offer was lower than what an All-Star like Boogie would get or accept under normal conditions. But New Orleans wouldn’t spend big $ on him for ’18-19 if he was going to miss a lot of time. Golden State can wait 2-3 months for Cousins & still be a top team in the West; New Orleans can’t.
- So, you could say the Pelicans made him an offer (at the end of the season, but not after July 1) or didn’t make him any offer at all (once free agency actually started). Both are true — depending on your point of view. Which doesn’t make anyone outside The Town happy, I know.
- The ironic thing, given all the caterwauling about how unfair both life and the NBA’s rules are that allowed the Dubs to swoop in and give Cousins their taxpayer mid-level, is that we’re almost certain to repeat this drama a year from now—with a much larger pool of teams involved.
- Assuming Golden State indeed is giving Cousins a one-year deal, he would be a “Non Bird” free agent for the Dubs in 2019, meaning the most the Warriors could offer him is a deal starting at 120 percent of his 2018-19 salary—about $6.36 million for 2019-20, based on the $5.3 million he’ll earn this coming season—with 4.5 percent raises annually for up to four years.
- My back of the envelope math says that’s around four years, $27 million. No chance Cousins signs up for that, no matter how well things go next season. This is a one-year rental.
- If Cousins gets back healthy and plays well for the Dubs, there will a lot of potential suitors lining up in 2019, many more of whom will have more cap room next summer than they do now. If he eventually helps Golden State to a ThreePeat, all to the good for the Dubs. But he’ll be back on the market in a year, looking for a nine-figure max deal.
- So, stop whining, everybody. Every one of your teams could have signed Boogie, and they didn’t. Just like every one of your teams could have drafted Draymond Green in the first round of the 2012 Draft (and that includes the teams that didn’t have first-rounders that year; if you wanted him bad enough, you should have traded back into the round).
- There’s a reason Boogie called the Warriors first and offered himself for the mid-level, just as there was a reason Kevin Durant turned down Brad Stevens and Riles and Doc Rivers and went to Golden State two years ago.
- Get to work.
Now get off my lawn.
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