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DeMarcus Cousins officially signs deal with Bucks

The 4-time All-Star has agreed to a reported 1-year deal with the defending champion Bucks.

Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins is relishing the opportunity to try helping the Milwaukee Bucks win a second straight title, no matter what role he fills.

“I’m extremely grateful and excited to be here,” the four-time All-Star said Tuesday after signing with the defending champions.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he expects Cousins to be available for a Wednesday night home game with the Charlotte Hornets.

Milwaukee (13-8) has won seven consecutive games but has been dealing with frontcourt issues due to the absence of Brook Lopez, who hasn’t played since a season-opening victory over the Brooklyn Nets because of a back injury.

The Bucks believe Cousins’ wide array of skills should help in that regard.

“I think he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help us win,” Budenholzer said. “He’s in a good place and ready to help us be the best we can be.”

Cousins, 31, earned second-team all-NBA honors in 2015 and 2016 before getting sidetracked by a series of severe injuries, including a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, a torn quadriceps muscle and a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He played a combined 41 games with the Houston Rockets and LA Clippers last season while averaging 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 17.4 minutes.

“I’m at peace,” Cousins said. “I’ve grown a lot through these tough times. Things haven’t gone in my favor these last couple of years, so I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

Cousins holds career averages of 20.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocked shots in 606 regular-season games with the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors, Rockets and Clippers. He won a gold medal with the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

The Bucks believe his combination of size and 3-point shooting ability will enable him to thrive while working with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“He’s a very gifted, very unique player, but a lot of those gifts and those talents I think fit with us really well, particularly the ability to spread the floor and shoot 3′s as a five, as a center,” Budenholzer said. “Guys who can play with Giannis and put Giannis in his best kind of environment, best spacing, they’re critical to us.”

Cousins says he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him.

“I’m here to be a team player,” Cousins said. “I’m here to help this team win. This is an accomplished team. They won the whole thing last year, so they have an identity. I just want to come in and fit in, do my part when my name is called and help this team become a better team.”

This move reunites Cousins with Bucks guard Jrue Holiday. They played together in New Orleans from 2016-18.

“He has a chance to play again,” Holiday said. “He has a chance to come in here and really make an impact. I feel like that’s huge.”

But it’s a former Bucks guard who helped Cousins understand the potential benefits of playing in Milwaukee. Cousins recalls how former Kentucky teammate Eric Bledsoe, who played for the Bucks from 2017-20, often spoke highly of the organization. Bledsoe now plays for the Clippers.

“I had interest in coming here before, especially when he was here,” Cousins said. “Things didn’t work out the way we wanted to, but he was always complimenting this organization, this team, this city, always telling me how peaceful and easy-going the city is, (how) you can come here and focus on basketball, a good city for your family, always speaking positively about this city and organization. I’ve always heard good things.”