DeMarcus Cousins

Northwest Notes: Cousins, Nuggets, Mitchell, Timberwolves

The Nuggets have strong interest in re-signing backup center DeMarcus Cousins, according to Harrison Wind of Cousins began the season in Milwaukee and finished it in Denver, averaging 8.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 31 regular-season contests and 10.6 PPG and 3.4 RPG in five postseason outings. Whether Denver makes that move depends upon the market for Cousins, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

We have more from from the Northwest Division:

  • Having Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back in the lineup will certainly boost the Nuggets’ offense next season. However, they need to get much better defensively to truly become a championship team, Mike Singer of the Denver Post notes. The club was 24th defensively in points allowed in the paint and also aided the opponent’s cause with careless turnovers. “To be a dangerous, deep playoff team, you have to have an elite defense,” coach Michael Malone said.
  • If the Jazz don’t trade Donovan Mitchell, should they make him the primary ballhandler over Mike Conley? Sarah Todd of the Deseret News believes so. Putting Mitchell in that role next to a larger complement of wing players makes the most sense if Utah retains him, Todd says.
  • While the postseason experience will certainly help the Timberwolves down the road, they’ve got a lot of growing up to do, Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune opines. Scoggins notes that Minnesota gave away three double-digit fourth-quarter leads against Memphis due to a lack of maturity and composure, abetted by poor shot selection. The fact that D’Angelo Russell played his way out of the crunch time lineup also needs to addressed.

Nuggets Notes: Offseason, Rivers, Cousins, Draft

Simply getting Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) on the court again in the fall will raise the Nuggets’ ceiling for the 2022/23 season. However, head coach Michael Malone suggested in his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that the team has to do more than just wait for everyone to get healthy in order to capitalize on its title window.

“This might be the biggest offseason, at least for me, in my perspective, since I’ve been here,” Malone said, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “… We have a window, and I think windows are only open so long. We have a 27-year-old phenom, who will hopefully soon be named a back-to-back MVP. We have to capitalize while we have a player, a special player in Nikola (Jokic), and do everything we can as an organization — and I know we will — to put the best players around him.”

As Singer writes, it will be important for the Nuggets to get the right “fringe” pieces around their perennial MVP candidate using the No. 21 overall pick in the draft and/or their cap exceptions in free agency. Denver was among the league’s worst teams at protecting the rim in 2021/22, so a backup center to help spell Jokic and a wing who can take some defensive pressure off of him could be priorities this summer, Singer adds.

“You can’t bleed at the rim the way we bled at the rim this year,” Malone said.

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Both Malone and general manager Calvin Booth spoke highly of free-agent-to-be Austin Rivers on Wednesday. As Singer relays (via Twitter), Malone praised Rivers’ defensive tenacity and said his two years in Denver “speak for themselves,” while Booth said the veteran guard is a player the team would look to bring back.
  • Asked about how big a priority it is to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, Booth said the Nuggets will talk to the veteran center’s reps, but Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) didn’t get the sense that Cousins is a lock to be back.
  • The Nuggets like some draft prospects in the No. 21 range, but aren’t “married” to their pick and will explore all their options with it, according to Booth (Twitter link via Singer).
  • Booth hinted that Denver will look to add more shooting this summer. You don’t have to watch basketball for five minutes to know that Joker likes to have shooters around him,” the GM said (Twitter link via Singer).

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Offseason, Future

Nuggets backup center DeMarcus Cousins was highly productive in the team’s first-round loss to Golden State, carving out a niche on Denver’s bench, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

DeMarcus, to be playing 10 minutes a game and to be having the productivity that he’s had, and the efficiency that he’s had, is really remarkable,” said head coach Michael Malone. “And I told him after the game (Game 4), you know, everybody wants to play more, but it’s important for DeMarcus to know the impact he’s having is real.”

In the five-game series, Cousins averaged 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in just 11.4 minutes per night, sporting a blistering shooting line of .655/.667/.733. He scored 19 points in 15 minutes during Denver’s 102-98 Game 5 defeat on Wednesday.

He gives us a calming influence, somebody that we can — instead of trying to go up and down, go crazy — settle down, play inside-out basketball,” Malone said. “He’s gotten JaMychal Green layups and dunks at the rim, he’s kicked out for open threes, and then the last part of it, now you can step out on the perimeter and play pick-and-roll with Bones Hyland. We know DeMarcus sets really good, physical screens, and he gets guys open.”

Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he says he’s not sure if he’ll be back with the Nuggets next season, per Alex Kennedy of

I honestly don’t know what the future holds,” Cousins said. “A lot in this short time has transpired. I’m still trying to get over the fact that G.P. (Gary Payton II) hit that big shot, right? I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. I’m happy to be a part of this group. I’m happy with the opportunity that was given to me from Mike [Malone], [president] Tim [Connelly], [general manager Calvin] Booth. To answer that question, I can’t right now. I don’t know what’s future holds.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Count Will Barton and Monte Morris among the teammates who hope Cousins is brought back for 2022/23, Kennedy writes in the same article. “Anytime you have a guy like that, you always want him back,” Barton said. “Like I say, he’s still DeMarcus Cousins — a guy who, when he’s healthy, is a very good player. Those are not my decisions; I’m not in management. Obviously, if I have a voice in the fight, I definitely would love to have him back. He was big for us on and off the court, [a] presence in the locker room. We’ll see what happens.” Morris echoed that sentiment: “Signing Boogie, man… I love him to death. A guy that would pick up 19 points in a do-or-die elimination game just shows how much heart he has, how much love he has for the game. I’m definitely proud of him… He’s a great guy.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan explore Denver’s roster possibilities in their offseason guides.
  • Malone is optimistic about what Denver’s future holds despite the team’s first-round exit, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “The future’s definitely bright,” Malone said. “I think we also have to understand that Jamal Murray to start the season next year is not going to be the Jamal Murray [we know] right away. I think it’s going to be a buildup, him getting comfortable and confident out there.”
  • Warriors forward/center Draymond Green was effusive in his praise of Nikola Jokic after Game 5, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and so skilled,” Green said of Jokic. “Usually when you have a guy that’s that talented and that skilled, they’re a little soft. He’s far, far from soft. He’s an absolutely incredible player.”
  • In case you missed it, Jokic said if the Nuggets offer him a five-year, super-max extension this offseason, he plans to accept it.

Monty Williams, DeMarcus Cousins Fined By NBA

Suns head coach Monty Williams is the latest NBA figure to be penalized by the league for criticizing its officiating. The NBA announced on Tuesday in a press release that Williams has been docked $15K for his comments following Phoenix’s Game 4 loss in New Orleans on Sunday.

The Pelicans shot 42 free throws in their 118-103 win, compared to just 15 for the Suns, a disparity that Williams called attention to during his post-game press conference.

“You can slice it any way you want to,” Williams said on Sunday, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “In a playoff game that physical, (the disparity) is amazing. Coaches shouldn’t have to come up to the microphone and feel like they’re going to get their heads cut off for speaking the truth.”

Sixers center Joel Embiid and Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins were also hit with fines on Monday for their comments about the officiating.

Meanwhile, Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins has been fined $15K by the NBA for kicking towels into the spectator stands, according to a press release from the league.

The incident occurred midway through the second quarter of Denver’s Game 4 win over Golden State on Sunday. Cousins, having been called for a foul and subbed out of the game, expressed his frustration by kicking a pile of towels next to the bench, causing some of them to land on fans (video link).

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Malone, Jokic, Gordon

DeMarcus Cousins was close to joining the Nuggets much sooner, but the Bucks moved in and signed him first, he said in an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Cousins worked out for Denver general manager Calvin Booth in late November, calling the process “real quiet and hush.” He said the Nuggets wanted to sign him at the time, but didn’t have an open roster spot.

The Bucks apparently heard about the workout and brought their entire staff for a look at Cousins. They signed him immediately after his audition and he played there until January 6, being waived before his salary would have become guaranteed for the rest of the season. Cousins still doesn’t understand what went wrong in Milwaukee.

“They put all their cards on the table, told me they needed me,” he said. “They were even talking long term, and that’s why, like I said, that whole situation, it just didn’t make sense. What disappointed me the most was more so just going through my grind. For me, everything felt right. We were winning games. I showed that I’m healthy. I fit in Milwaukee perfect next to the guys that were out there. I put up numbers. Everything worked out. I don’t know. Just for it to happen the way it did.”

Cousins adds that the Nuggets called him the next day, so he never gave any thought to retiring. He signed three 10-day contracts with Denver before receiving a deal that covered the rest of the regular season.

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Coach Michael Malone stressed the need for unity after his team melted down in Monday’s Game 2 loss to the Warriors, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Not only was Nikola Jokic ejected, but Will Barton and Cousins had a heated exchange on the sidelines in the third quarter and had to be separated. “We’ve got to stick together,” Malone said. “We can’t splinter in adverse times. I just want to make sure as we get on this plane to go home that we get on that plane together, knowing that we have a chance to get our first win at home in a few days. That’s our whole focus.”
  • Jokic is in danger of becoming the sixth player in history to lose in the first round in the same season he was named MVP, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. Jokic, who was announced Sunday as one of the finalists for the award, has been frustrated by the officiating in the first two games of the series, saying, “I mean, it’s pretty much everything,” when asked what led to his ejection.
  • The Nuggets need more production from Aaron Gordon, who has missed 13 of his 19 shots so far and has a combined 15 points in the two games, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “Aaron Gordon has to be in attack mode,” Malone said. “I don’t want him settling for 3s. Put people in the rim; that’s when Aaron Gordon is at his best.”

Nuggets Notes: Porter, Murray, Nnaji, Hyland

A report in late February stated that Michael Porter Jr. (back) was on track to return to action in mid-to-late March and that there was optimism in the Nuggets‘ locker room about Jamal Murray (ACL) being back in time for the playoffs too. However, nearly a month later, there’s still no clarity about when Porter and Murray might play — or even if they’ll return at all this season.

On Monday, Joe Vardon of The Athletic cited multiple team sources who said Porter is considered more likely than Murray to return this season. According to Vardon, those same sources cautioned that it’s possible neither player will be available for the playoffs.

On Tuesday, during TNT’s broadcast of the Nuggets/Clippers game, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports suggested that Murray’s rehab process has actually advanced further than Porter’s (video link via Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports).

“The rehab process hasn’t been too good up to this point for Michael Porter Jr. He’s had some ups and downs,” Haynes said. “As of now, Murray’s ahead. But I’m told both don’t have a firm timeline and the team will follow their lead as to when they feel mentally and physically ready to return.”

Following up on Haynes’ report, Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) said on Wednesday that he spoke to someone close to Porter and asked about the odds of the forward returning this spring. According to Singer, the answer he received was “very noncommittal,” which doesn’t bode especially well with just two-and-a-half weeks left in the regular season.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Zeke Nnaji is another Nugget whose status for the rest of the season is up in the air, according to Kyle Hendrickson of The Denver Post, who says the forward’s lingering knee injury might prevent him from playing again this spring. Nnaji, who had established himself as a regular part of Denver’s rotation before he went down, has appeared in just one game since February 11. “I don’t know when or if he’ll be back,” head coach Michael Malone said. “I really can’t say because I did not anticipate him being out this long. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully, we can get him back. But while he’s out, obviously, everybody else has to step up.”
  • A number of Nuggets players “spoke up and aired their grievances” following Sunday’s game against Boston, which was Denver’s second consecutive loss and fourth in six games, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. According to Bones Hyland, center DeMarcus Cousins said the way the Nuggets were playing was “unacceptable.” The Nuggets responded on Tuesday with a win over the Clippers and now have a one-game lead on Minnesota for the last guaranteed playoff spot (No. 6) in the West.
  • Sean Keeler of The Denver Post questions why Hyland isn’t part of more closing lineups for the Nuggets, arguing that the rookie has shown an ability to play big in big moments.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Cousins, Morris

Kings coach Alvin Gentry believes Nikola Jokic deserves to win back-to-back MVP awards, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Jokic carried Denver past Sacramento on Wednesday with 38 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists. “He’s just a different beast. He doesn’t get shaken,” Gentry said. “He just does what they need to do to win the game…Watching him play, it’s hard to believe that he won’t be the MVP again.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Despite winning the MVP last season, Jokic still doesn’t get the same recognition as some other NBA stars. Jokic says it doesn’t bother him that he’s not one of “faces” of the NBA, as he told Rohan Nadarni of Sports Illustrated. “I don’t think about it. It would be a really nice thing, yes,” Jokic said. “I don’t want that or need that. I’m fine with where I am right now with my status in the NBA.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins has given the team another dimension, Mark Schindler of Basketball News writes. The Nuggets are 13-1 in games in which Cousins has played. He has bolstered their bench and developed chemistry with Bones Hyland on pick-and-roll situations. Cousins was signed for the remainder of the season late last month.
  • Monte Morris has been an unheralded reason for the Nuggets’ 12-2 record over the past 14 games, Mike Singer of the Denver Post notes. He’s averaging 13.5 PPG, 4.9 APG and 2.8 RPG during that span. “Him and Nikola have the same kind of impact,” coach Michael Malone said. “We take our time, we get set, we space the floor, we read the defense. He knows that Nikola’s going to garner so much attention, he’s got to keep the defense honest.”

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Malone, Barton, Gordon, Jokic

DeMarcus Cousins had a stellar game on Friday night for the Nuggets, putting up a season-high 31 points on 14 shots in just 24 minutes of action. Cousins also contributed nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in the team’s 116-101 win over the Rockets. Cousins started in place of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who was out with a non-COVID illness, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post relays.

Cousins said he was released by the Bucks earlier in the season due to a calf strain, giving Denver the opportunity to pick him up. Coach Michael Malone says he’s never lost faith in Cousins, even if others have. “Most people had given up on him,” Malone said after Friday’s game. “All you need is somebody to believe in you.”

Malone said Cousins lost eight-to-10 pounds after arriving in Denver, per Singer. Malone also said Cousins’ strong recent play could help lessen the load on Jokic, who’s having another MVP-caliber season. “He keeps on playing like this … you don’t have to run Nikola into the ground,” said Malone, who suggested the Nuggets might have the best center tandem in the NBA.

It’s very satisfying,” said Cousins when asked what it’s meant to him to take advantage of his latest stop. “It’s even a better feeling to have a coach that believes in you, an organization that believes in you.”

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Advice from his basketball idol Kobe Bryant helped Will Barton become the Nuggets’ all-time leader in three-point field goals, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. “Kobe told me, ‘If you get a jump shot, you’re going to be deadly,'” Barton said. “Once he told me I had talent and all I had to do was work on my jumper, it further solidified what I already thought about myself.” The former second-round pick struggled with his shot early in his career, but transformed himself into a solid marksman over the past eight seasons with Denver, making 36% of his 3-pointers. Barton set the franchise mark with his 769th trey in the team’s win over the Rockets on Friday, breaking a record held by J.R. Smith.
  • Aaron Gordon has developed impressive chemistry with Jokic, writes Singer in a separate article for The Denver Post. “Jok’s IQ is through the roof,” Gordon said. “He’s a basketball savant. Just genius. It’s great talking to him, understanding how he sees the game. How we can make it easier for him and where he needs us to be.” Gordon is taking advantage of Jokic’s elite passing by making smart cuts to the basket, leading to a career-best 51.7% from the field, including 60.6% on two-pointers. Gordon told Singer that he’s “seeing the game differently.” “Just angles,” he said. “Attacking angles. Making reads. I finally feel like I’m making better reads.”
  • Jokic gave a typically self-effacing reply regarding his conversations with Gordon, Singer relays in the same piece. “I don’t know the right answer,” said Jokic. “I’m just trying to help him. … I’m just telling him what I know. If that helps him, or not, I don’t know. I’m just trying to tell him what I see.” Singer notes that a quarter of Jokic’s assists this season have gone to Gordon, the highest mark on the team.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, SGA, Cousins, House, Wright

Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both more comfortable with the ball in their hands, but comments made by head coach Mark Daigneault after the two guards played together on Thursday strongly suggest the Thunder ultimately view Giddey as their primary initiator, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

As Mussatto details, Gilgeous-Alexander will be still be the Thunder’s primary scorer, but it sounds like the team wants to get him more comfortable playing off-ball, as he did earlier in his career when Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder were on the roster.

“(Giddey’s) a really good initiator, he’s a really good creator and we’ve gotta use that part of his game to unlock the potential of the team,” Daigneault said. “It’s gonna require Shai to make some plays off the ball a little bit, where he’s driving close-outs, where he’s shooting open shots — but it’s also gonna take some load off of Shai. He’s not gonna have to work as hard.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, who advocated for the signing of DeMarcus Cousins earlier this season, is thrilled to have the veteran big man under contract for the rest of the season, says Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “His personality is really important,” Malone said of Cousins. “He is a voice. He’s a personality, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. That can be refreshing at times because we have a locker room of great guys, but who are not always willing to police each other.”
  • Having been signed for the rest of the season following a series of 10-day deals, Danuel House is looking to repay the Jazz‘s investment in him with his play on the court, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “This is a good organization. And they believe so much in me, they’re pouring into me,” House said. “So my job is, if they’re pouring into me, to make sure that when the water hits the glass, make sure it’s purified enough for us to drink.”
  • Timberwolves two-way player McKinley Wright IV, who is dealing with a left UCL injury, is moving closer toward returning to action after getting his splint taken off, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Wolfson estimates that Wright will be playing for the Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League affiliate – in another week or two. The rookie guard has appeared in just three NBA games this season.

Nuggets Sign DeMarcus Cousins For Rest Of Season

FEBRUARY 25: Cousins has been signed for the remainder of the season, according to a team press release.

FEBRUARY 22: The Nuggets intend to sign center DeMarcus Cousins to a rest-of-season contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The plan is for the deal to be officially completed on Friday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Cousins has spent most of the last month with the Nuggets, first on a hardship 10-day deal, then on two standard 10-day pacts. Because a player can’t sign more than two standard 10-day contracts with the same team in a season, Denver has to commit to Cousins for the rest of the season in order to keep him on the roster.

The 6’10”, 270-pound veteran, a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player while with the Kings and Pelicans, saw his career fortunes take a turn after he ruptured his left Achilles with New Orleans in 2018. Cousins then sustained a torn quad in the spring of 2019 and tore his ACL while with the Lakers ahead of the 2019/20 NBA season. Since recovering from those injuries, he has become a role player for various clubs, including both the Rockets and Clippers during the 2020/21 season.

This season, Cousins first joined the Bucks, a club looking to compensate for the size it lost when starting center Brook Lopez was forced to sit with a back injury that ultimately led to surgery. The 31-year-old Cousins played a total of 17 games with Milwaukee, and to date has appeared in eight games for the Nuggets as a reserve behind reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, reuniting with former Kings head coach Michael Malone.

In 25 games total this year between the Bucks and Nuggets, Cousins holds averages of 8.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG, while shooting 41.4% from the floor and 77.6% from the free-throw line. Granted, these are far cries from his career numbers (19.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 3.1 APG on .459/.330/.737 shooting), but it’s nice that Cousins appears to have adjusted to his new role on two title contenders.

Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports notes (via Twitter) that the Nuggets have been undefeated in their games played with Cousins this year.