2018 Free Agency

Reports: DeMarcus Cousins joining Golden State Warriors

A day after LeBron James agreed to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors upped the offseason ante in a massive way, reaching a stunning agreement with six-time All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania was the first to report the deal.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the deal is for one season at $5.3 million.

Cousins himself confirmed the news, too, via a video posted on Showtime Sports’ Twitter account. In the video, Cousins is walking about, talking on his phone and says at the end of his conversation: “I’m a Warrior.”

Perhaps most amazingly of all, Cousins alleges that he received “no significant contract offers” after free agency opened on July 1, and initiated contact with the Warriors himself.

Cousins is in the midst of recovering from one of the most catastrophic injuries in sports, a ruptured Achilles tendon that ended his second season with the Pelicans at 48 games. He had been averaging 25.1 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists alongside fellow All-Star Anthony Davis, putting him in line for a massive contract extension that promptly evaporated.

The Warriors, predictably, were thrilled by a move that gives them a player who averaged 25.2 points last season before getting hurt and has averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds for his career.

“The 3rd splash Brother,” Curry tweeted.

The rest of the league, they didn’t seem so thrilled.

Philadelphia’s Richaun Holmes mused on Twitter if the NBA could veto the signing, much in the way then-Commissioner David Stern blocked a Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011. And New York’s Enes Kanter couldn’t resist poking some fun at the league’s current commissioner.

“Adam Silver has agreed to a Mid Level Extension with the Golden State, league sources tell ME,” Kanter wrote.

Fears about Cousins’ recovery obviously didn’t scare off the Warriors, who were only too happy to add yet another talent for a pittance to a team already heavily favored to win a third straight championship this season.

Initial reports had Cousins sitting out until at least December, but he told Spears that he’s shooting to return by training camp in late September.

Whenever he does step back on the court, the Warriors will have an almost unprecedented collection of talent featuring two MVPs (Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry), three career 20-point scorers (Durant, Curry, Cousins), another career 19-point scorer (Klay Thompson) and a Defensive Player of the Year (Draymond Green) with 27 All-Star appearances between them, all under the age of 30.

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.

Durant has again reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with a player option to sign a more a lucrative contract next summer, which also provides the Warriors financial flexibility as general manager Bob Myers builds the roster to go after another title. Golden State will play its final season at Oracle Arena in Oakland before a move to new Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

The Warriors lost center JaVale McGee on Sunday to the Lakers, who landed LeBron James with a $153.3 million, four-year contract as the NBA’s free agency period began.

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 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.

Including, it seems, not even the Warriors themselves.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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