DeMarcus Cousins: “I Have A Lot Left In The Tank”

With opening night less than two weeks away, four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins remains unsigned. However, Cousins continues to seek a new NBA home, telling Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be “prepared” if and when he gets his next opportunity and that he’s hoping to dispel the notion he’s a negative influence in a locker room.

“I think the misperception of me is that I’m this angry monster that just goes around bullying people, beating people up, uncoachable, and a cancer in the locker room,” Cousins said. “I think it’s all false. I played for coach (John) Calipari, a legendary coach. I was more than coachable. Steve Kerr would attest to that and Coach (Michael) Malone.

“Obviously, you can always go back to my time in Sacramento. I was a young kid. I was still figuring this business out. I was ignorant to a lot of things. I handled a lot of things the incorrect way, but I’ve also learned from those mistakes. … To hold my time in Sac over my head, I think that’s unfair. I believe we all should have a chance to grow and change and actually have that change be embraced. I just want a fair shot.”

Cousins hasn’t played more than 48 games in a season since 2016/17 due to a series of injuries and an inability to stick with one team (he has played for six clubs during that time). Still, he has shown in limited minutes that he’s still a talented scorer and rebounder, having averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 48 appearances (15.0 MPG) last season for the Nuggets and Bucks. The 32-year-old believes he still has plenty to contribute to an NBA team.

“It would mean everything in the world to me to be back in the NBA,” Cousins told Haynes. “I know I belong in this league. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and earned my stripes. I’ve hit some bumps in the road with injuries and I’ve always worked my way back to be 100 percent healthy. I’ve worked my tail off to get back to this point. I just want the opportunity to show the work I’ve put in and continue to put in. I also just want an opportunity to also earn my keep and that’s all I really want.

“I have a lot left in the tank. A whole lot. I feel like I’ve actually become an even better player, just sharpening all my skills. I’ve had nothing but time in the gym. I’ve gotten better in all aspects of my game.”

Cousins’ 15 minutes per game last season represented his lowest average since he entered the NBA in 2010. However, he wouldn’t necessarily be pushing for a larger role with his next team, telling Haynes that he recognizes he’s no longer “the franchise player I was when I was younger” and has accepted that.

“Whatever role is given to me, I will do it willingly and to the best of my ability,” Cousins said. “Obviously, me being a competitor, I always want to reach for the stars, but I’m going to do what’s asked of me. And if it’s me starting, if it’s me coming off the bench, or if it’s me having to be at the end of the bench cheering the next guy on, I’ll do it. Whatever it takes. I’m willing to do whatever is needed to win.”

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