Before DeMarcus Cousins agreed to join the defending-champion Warriors on a one-year, $5.3MM contract, the Trail Blazers and Pelicans discussed the possibility of a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent the star center to Portland, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, according to Haynes, the fact that Cousins and Jusuf Nurkic share the same agent was one roadblock in those talks.
Even if not for that issue, it would have been tricky for the Pelicans and Blazers to reach a deal that worked for both sides. Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade would have hard-capped the Blazers, who were already well over the cap, so they likely would have had to send at least one or two players to New Orleans. It’s not clear if talks progressed to the point where the two sides were discussing specific players.
Here’s more on the free agency decision that has practically made LeBron James‘ move to Los Angeles an afterthought tonight:
- Cousins had narrowed down his choices to Golden State and Boston before opting for the Warriors, according to Haynes (Twitter link). The Celtics could have comfortably matched Golden State’s offer and would have been a fascinating destination for Cousins — with LeBron out of the East, the C’s already look like a favorite to represent the conference in the Finals in 2019, so the team’s status as the frontrunner would have been cemented with Cousins in the mix.
- Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports takes a look at the Warriors‘ recruitment of Cousins, which was led by his USA Basketball teammates Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, along with GM Bob Myers. Cousins also had “positive phone calls” with head coach Steve Kerr, league sources tell Charania.
- The Warriors were initially reluctant to believe in Cousins’ interest, according to Charania, who adds that the big man also received interest from the Pelicans, Mavericks, and Wizards. Golden State’s agreement with Cousins came together so quickly that some members of the organization were “stunned” when word of the deal broke, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
- Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter links), Cousins called his decision to join the Warriors the “smartest move ever,” and said he’s still hoping to return from his Achilles injury for training camp. Reports tonight suggested the Dubs may be eyeing a December or January return to action for their latest acquisition.
- Cousins also told Spears that he received no significant contract offers when free agency began, but was prepared for that possibility due to his Achilles injury (Twitter link).
- While it’s not impossible that Cousins could end up hurting the Warriors more than he helps, the addition – combined with the Rockets’ loss of Trevor Ariza – appears to have further widened the gap between Golden State and the rest of the NBA, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com in his breakdown of the deal.