DeMarcus Cousins

Warriors Notes: Cousins, Myers, Green

DeMarcus Cousins is in a state of happiness after signing with Golden State and the 27-year-old feels he’ll return to being one of the top big men in the league once he recovers from the Achilles injury that sidelined him last season.

“My expectations, I plan on coming back and being the same dominant player I was, even better actually,” Cousins said (via Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group). “Nothing will change.”

One thing that everyone hopes will change is Cousins making it to the postseason. He has yet to enter a playoff game during his eight-year career. GM Bob Myers reportedly told the big man that he deserves to play in the NBA’s second season when the two spoke prior to Cousins signing and the Warriors plan on monitoring his recovery to ensure he’s fully healthy once mid-April rolls around.

“Who knows what time,” Myers said about when Cousins will return to the court. “But certainly we’ll have a few months, if not more, before the playoffs to get him acclimated with what we do and for him to get comfortable. So the goal is to have as much time as we can without rushing him back. We don’t need to throw him out there.”

Here’s more from Golden State:

  • The Warriors can afford to wait for Cousins until after the season start and even past the 2018 calendar year in order to put him in the best position to succeed, Medina adds in the same piece. “I have to be smart about it. I’m in a unique situation as well where I’m not needed right away,” Cousins said. “Time is kind of on my side so I have a chance to get to 100 percent. When I feel I’m at that point, I’ll make the return.”
  • Some players called Cousins after hearing the news of him signing with the Warriors and attempted to change his mind, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com relays. CJ McCollum was one of the players who reached out to see what was going with Cousins’ decision.
  • Draymond Green made the worst free agency pitch to bring Cousins aboard, according to the big man.“He was like, ‘Cous, I’m pretty sure me and you are going to fight,'” Cousin said of his interaction with Green (via Haynes in the same piece). “I’m like, ‘Draymond, Come on. Whoa. Whoa.’ But Draymond, that’s my guy. I respect him as a player, I respect him as a competitor. He’s one of the top in this business and just his approach to every game, I want that guy on my team every day. So, we talked, we kind of communicated about what we both wanted, which was winning games.”
  • Cousins is using his one-year pact with the Warriors as a way to rehab his value with the hopes of landing a bigger deal next offseason, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Slater notes that Golden State holds most of the power in the arrangement, having the ability to further tarnish Cousins’ reputation, but also adds that both sides are “openly comfortable” with the partnership.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Doncic, Belinelli

Pelicans GM Dell Demps made his first public comments on the loss of free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in an interview with Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate.

According to Demps, team officials met with Cousins on the first two days of free agency, but the two sides weren’t able to find “common ground.” Demps called negotiations with Cousins “respectful” and “cordial,” but said the uncertainty over his physical condition in the wake of a torn Achilles made it difficult to reach a deal. Cousins eventually signed a one-year contract with the Warriors for their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception.

“The unknown of returning to play made it difficult for both sides to find a common ground,” Demps explained. “We enjoyed DeMarcus in New Orleans and wanted him back. We had multiple discussions with his representatives. It was just very difficult for us to find common ground.”

Rondo also headed west for a one-year contract, signing with the Lakers for $9MM after a single season in New Orleans. Demps hopes the intangibles that Rondo brought will influence other players.

“Ultimately, it was a tough situation because we had so much success with Rondo with his leadership and on-court presence,” Demps said. “We felt like we had a chemistry. Unfortunately, he’s not back. At the same time, we believe that his impact will stay with our team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made the correct move in holding first-round pick Luka Doncic out of Summer League play, writes Dwain Price of NBA.com. Doncic’s buyout with Real Madrid wasn’t finalized until Monday, and he would have faced a difficult adjustment in joining the team in Las Vegas after it had already played two games.
  • Manu Ginobili was among the first people to text congratulations to Marco Belinelli after he committed to return to the Spurs, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. That doesn’t guarantee Ginobili will be back for another season, but he’s glad to see his former teammate return after winning a title together in 2014. “We didn’t talk about [Ginobili playing], but I can say he was really happy about me coming back,” Belinelli said. “Winning a championship with that great team was amazing. Nobody is going to take that away from me.”
  • Rockets second-round pick De’Anthony Melton has turned in a standout performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Melton slipped to the 46th pick after not playing last season at USC, and he has looked like a steal so far. Melton struggled with his shot in the opener, but is 10 of 23 from 3-point range since then and has impressed the coaching staff with his defense and play-making.

Pacific Rumors: Bagley, Thornwell, Ariza, Cousins

Kings lottery pick Marvin Bagley III has a pelvic bone bruise and will miss the remainder of summer-league action, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Bagley, who suffered the injury during the Kings’ game against the Suns on Saturday, will be able to resume basketball activities after 1-2 weeks of rest. The 6’11” Bagley was the No. 2 pick in the draft after one season at Duke.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns signed Rockets free agent forward Trevor Ariza to provide guidance to a young team, according to an Associated Press report. Ariza left the Western Conference powerhouse for a one-year, $15MM contract with Phoenix. “We need his defensive ability and versatility, his shooting ability but I think as much as anything, maybe more than anything, we need his leadership and his winning pedigree,” GM Ryan McDonough said.
  • Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans face a logjam in the Clippers’ backcourt and will have to fight for playing time, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times notes. The duo played a combined 121 games last season but the team currently has eight guards on the roster with the addition of first-round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Both Thornwell and Evans have guaranteed contracts worth approximately $1.378MM for next season. “In this game, you can’t worry about nobody else,” Thornwell said. “You can’t come in and worry about what the next man got going on and what the next man is doing.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins says he’s not bothered by the reduced offensive role he’ll have with the Warriors, as he told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “I’m sure there will be many games where I may have, you know, four attempts. Then there may be other games where I’m the leading scorer,” he said. “I look at that as a positive. I don’t have to be the guy. I’ve dealt with that my entire career. I’ve always wanted a team where everything doesn’t rely on me. Now I’m in that position.”

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Mavs, Anderson, Nowitzki

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry denies that Anthony Davis didn’t want DeMarcus Cousins to return, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Cousins stunned the basketball world by signing a one-year, $5.3MM deal with the Warriors but it had nothing to do with his relationship with New Orleans’ franchise player, according to Gentry.

“Someone said A.D. didn’t want DeMarcus back, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Pelicans’ head coach said. “I don’t know where that came about, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks don’t plan on having a full roster heading into training camp, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets“Unless something falls in our lap we’ll keep an open roster spot,” owner Mark Cuban told Price.
  • Kyle Anderson‘s defensive metrics were a major reason why the Grizzlies gave the small forward an offer sheet the Spurs didn’t match, according to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. He ranked fourth in steals percentage, sixth in defensive rating and 13th in steals per game and rated as the league’s second-best defending small forward last season behind the Sixers’ Robert Covington. Offensively, Anderson could be used an additional ball handler and initiate half-court sets, Wallace adds.
  • If the Mavericks show significant improvement, Dirk Nowitzki could play beyond next season, Cuban said in a Sirius XM radio interview that was relayed by the Dallas Morning News. The Mavs will re-sign Nowitzki, who is currently a free agent, once they finish their offseason moves after turning down their team option.”I’d say it’s under 50 percent right now (he’ll retire after next season) but if he’s playing 77 games and we’re getting better, and we’re starting to win games? You know what a competitor he is — he’s going to want to come back.”

Mavs Notes: Jordan, Doncic, Finley, Koponen

Many NBA observers were surprised to see the Mavericks pursue DeAndre Jordan again, three years after he spurned them in free agency by backing out a verbal agreement with Dallas to rejoin the Clippers. However, team owner Mark Cuban said it only took him and Jordan a matter of seconds to smooth things over, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details.

“There’s like four guys I hold grudges with, and three of them are from grade school, maybe even before,” Cuban told MacMahon. “I just want to win. Look, only Dirk [Nowitzki] and J.J. [Barea] were there from that period anyway. All of our guys were like, ‘Go get him! Go get him!

“I talked to him on the phone and he’s like, ‘Everything behind us?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go win.’ He goes, ‘Let’s go to war.’ Done.”

According to Cuban, the team and Jordan mutually agreed that a one-year deal was the best route to take, with both sides planning to use the 2018/19 season to assess the potential for a long-term fit. Cuban also noted that the Mavericks explored the possibility of adding DeMarcus Cousins, but felt like Jordan gave the club a better chance to “win now” than a player coming off an Achilles tear.

“You don’t want to put somebody in a position where they have to rush back, and the Warriors obviously don’t have to deal with that,” Cuban said. “I was happy for him. A lot of people talk trash about [Cousins], but we thought he would have been great. But I wanted to win now, and that’s what I told his guys.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Cuban also spoke to MacMahon about No. 3 overall pick Luka Doncic, whom the Mavericks owner called “the top player on our board.” Cuban added that “it wasn’t even close.”
  • Speaking of Doncic, the Mavericks have agreed to terms with Real Madrid on his buyout agreement, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Doncic should be on track to finalize his rookie contract and officially join the Mavs soon.
  • Mavericks executive Michael Finley received a promotion in the front office this week, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com (Twitter link). Formerly Dallas’ assistant vice president of basketball operations, Finley was named the Mavs’ VP of basketball operations.
  • In a move that has been a formality for the last several years, the Mavericks removed Petteri Koponen‘s cap hold from their books this week, per RealGM’s official transactions log. Dallas still has the NBA rights to Koponen, a 2007 first-round pick, so in order to remove his cap hold each season, the team and player have to agree to that he won’t be signing with the Mavs for the current league year.

Warriors Sign DeMarcus Cousins

JULY 6th, 11:10pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 2nd, 7:36pm: The rich are about to get richer, as free agent center DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a contract with the Warriors, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’ll be a one-year, $5.3MM deal, with the Dubs using the taxpayer mid-level exception to add Cousins, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

It’s a shocking move for both Cousins and the defending champions, who initially didn’t appear to be locks to use their mid-level exception at all. However, when Kevin Durant agreed to a contract with a starting salary of $30MM rather than his max of $35.65MM, it opened the door for the Warriors to take advantage of the savings by using their MLE, which is worth $5.337MM.

Signing Cousins will cost the Warriors exponentially more than $5.337MM due to their projected luxury tax penalties, but the investment figures to be worth it for one of the NBA’s very best centers. Golden State will now have the opportunity to play an incredible five-man unit consisting of Cousins, Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

The club also retains key contributors like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, and Quinn Cook, with youngsters Damian Jones and Jacob Evans expected to contribute as well.

While others Cousins suitors like the Pelicans and Lakers will undoubtedly be upset about seeing him sign with the Warriors for a salary they could have topped, it didn’t appear that New Orleans, L.A. or any other team was willing to make a huge offer for the big man, with cap space drying up around the league.

Of course, it’s also extremely unlikely that Cousins would have accepted a $5.3MM offer from any other team. No other club gives him as clear a path to his first NBA title, and as one source close to him explains to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link): “He’s about winning.”

Signing a one-year pact will also allow Cousins to rebuild his value after suffering a torn Achilles during the 2017/18 season. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Warriors have no intention of rushing their newly-added star back to the court, so a December or January return appears likely. If Cousins returns to form during the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, he’ll be able to reach the free agent market again a year from now and potentially land a more lucrative longer-term deal.

Before going down with that Achilles injury, Cousins was posting the best numbers of his career, filling up the stat sheet with 25.2 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.6 BPG. He also made 2.2 three-pointers per game at a 35.4% rate. Achilles tears aren’t easy to come back from, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be the same player he was before the injury, but even if he’s operating at 60-70% capacity in 2018/19, he’ll make the already-stacked Warriors even more dangerous.

The move comes approximately 24 hours after LeBron James‘ agency announced that he’d be heading to the Lakers. While LeBron, Magic Johnson, and the new-look Lakers dominated much of the coverage during the first two days of NBA free agency, the Warriors’ latest splash signals that they have no intention of giving up control of the Pacific Division – or the Western Conference, or the NBA – anytime soon.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Ball, Cousins, Warriors

While the Lakers‘ agreements with free agents like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee drew plenty of confusion and some criticism, the deals represent the rollout of the plan that Magic Johnson outlined to LeBron James when they met late Saturday night, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne.

As Windhorst and Shelburne detail, James’ Cavaliers squad was heavily on shooters and offensive-minded players, but lacked genuine play-makers and strong defenders. By contrast, Johnson pitched LeBron on the idea of stocking the Lakers’ roster with “tough-minded play-makers” who can free up James to work in the post and finish in the lanes, rather than having to generate all the team’s offense himself. According to Windhorst and Shelburne, some league executives are fans of the approach.

“I know some people are rolling their eyes but I like what the Lakers have done,” one rival Western Conference exec told ESPN. “You can find shooters. They’ve taken some in the last few drafts. Play-makers matter and are harder to find.”

While the Lakers haven’t focused on shooters with their first round of free agent moves, “all parties agree” that the roster could use more outside shooting, so that need still figures to be addressed, ESPN’s report notes.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Addressing news of Lonzo Ball‘s torn meniscus, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast that Lakers management didn’t want that information out there. According to Wojnarowski, there’s a belief that Ball’s camp leaked word of the injury in an effort to discourage teams from trading for him. Woj adds (via Twitter) that there’s a chance the second-year point guard will require surgery.
  • With a Warriors notebook, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes that Golden State will have an “intriguing escape hatch” if the DeMarcus Cousins experiment doesn’t work out. If Cousins is healthy by the trade deadline but isn’t fitting in with the Warriors, his modest salary and expiring contract would make him a fascinating trade chip, Slater observes.
  • In case you missed it on Wednesday, we relayed several Clippers updates, writing that the team has signed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, met with Kyle O’Quinn, and remains interested in bringing back Montrezl Harell.

DeMarcus Cousins Rumors: Lakers, Rockets, More

DeMarcus Cousins‘ free agent decision probably won’t ultimately have the same impact as LeBron James‘ move to the Lakers, but Cousins’ agreement with the Warriors has generated even more discussion over the past couple days based on the shock factor. While many NBA observers expected James to land in L.A., few saw Boogie heading to the reigning champions.

We’ve already relayed several sets of Cousins-related notes, rumors, and other leftovers, but they continue to trickle in today, so we’ve got a few more to round up. Let’s dive in…

  • The Lakers are fans of Cousins, but felt like they had to pass on him this year because they want to be as competitive as possible in 2018/19 and couldn’t afford to wait on the big man’s recovery from his torn Achilles, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). Cousins is trying to make it back for training camp, but is expected to be sidelined until December or January.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe echoes Stein’s sentiment, tweeting that the Lakers never had serious interest in acquiring Cousins this summer, even after trade talks for Kawhi Leonard stalled (at least for now). Stein had reported last night that the Lakers had the opportunity to sign Cousins “at a one-year price point similar to the one that landed him in Golden State.”
  • According to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link), the Rockets – who also theoretically could have offered Cousins the taxpayer mid-level exception – didn’t consider him a good fit, and had “zero interest.” Amick and Lowe (Twitter links) both point out that not being guaranteed a starting spot may not have appealed to Cousins anyway. Houston remains “all-in” on starting center Clint Capela and plans to match any offer sheet he signs, Amick notes.
  • In a full article for USA Today, Amick explores the history of notable NBA players suffering Achilles injuries, examining how Cousins’ career might be impacted going forward.

Pelicans Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Randle, Payton

The Pelicans made a two-year, $40MM offer to DeMarcus Cousins between his Achilles injury in January and the end of the season, Marc Stein of The New York Times states in his latest newsletter. Cousins rejected the offer, and New Orleans’ front office responded by taking it off the table.

Cousins committed to Golden State last night, taking the Warriors’ MLE of $5.3MM for next season. The Lakers had an opportunity to get Cousins for a similar price, Stein adds, but once they passed, it was an easy decision for him to join the Warriors.

The Pelicans hadn’t given up hope of retaining Cousins when free agency began, but the door closed when they signed Julius Randle for $18MM over two years. Stein notes that Anthony Davis played an aggressive role in recruiting Randle to New Orleans.

There’s more Pelicans news to pass along:

  • The trade with the Kings that brought Cousins to New Orleans will be remembered as a mistake, according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. The Pelicans gave up two first-round picks in Buddy Hield and a 2017 selection that turned out to be Zach Collins. In exchange, they got just 65 games out of Cousins.
  • Rajon Rondo and Cousins both made shrewd business decisions, Duncan adds in the same story. The Lakers gave Rondo more money than the Pelicans were offering, along with the chance to team up with LeBron James. Cousins found a low-stress environment to rehab his injured Achilles while getting an excellent chance to win a ring. The Pelicans also showed they’re not ready to pay the luxury tax, with Randle and Elfrid Payton providing cheaper alternatives to Cousins and Rondo.
  • The free agent drama in New Orleans could be repeated next summer, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. The Pelicans took a little bit of the sting out of losing Cousins and Rondo by agreeing to deals with Randle and Payton. However, Randle can opt out after one season and Payton is only signed for a year. Nikola Mirotic, who fit well alongside Davis after arriving from the Bulls in a midseason trade, will also be a free agent.

More On DeMarcus Cousins’ Deal With Warriors

In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, DeMarcus Cousins explains that he chose to pursue a deal with the Warriors – calling GM Bob Myers himself – because he hadn’t received any offers from other teams, adding that Pelicans GM Dell Demps said New Orleans didn’t plan to re-sign him.

Recognizing that he wasn’t going to get a maximum-salary deal, Cousins opted to play for a title contender for one year, aiming to rebuild his value in advance of 2019’s free agent period. “This was my ace of spades. This was my chess move,” Cousins told Spears.

It’s somewhat hard to believe that no team was willing to offer Cousins a contract before he accepted the Warriors’ $5.3MM offer, and that’s especially true of the Pelicans, who had insisted all along that they wanted to re-sign the star center.

According to Will Guillory of NOLA.com (Twitter link), Cousins never formally met with the Pelicans during free agency and may not have officially made an offer, but general numbers had been discussed and there was an “understanding of what each side was looking for.” It’s not true to say the Pels didn’t want Cousins, Guillory adds.

Still, it’s certainly fair to say that NBA-wide interest in Cousins wasn’t as strong as many observers expected. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link), Cousins’ Achilles injury and a lack of cap space around the league were factors, and so was his image. “There were teams with [cap] space who did not want him in their locker room and didn’t want him in their organization,” Wojnarowski said.

Here’s more on free agency’s most shocking contract agreement:

  • The Pelicans had a tentative meeting with Cousins scheduled for the coming days, but that meeting obviously won’t happen now, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
  • Lowe’s piece includes several other tidbits of note — he confirms Woj’s report that a number of teams had a “No Cousins policy,” and hears from sources that Cousins’ people were calling around on Monday and pitching deals to various teams. The big man’s camp proposed a one-year, $15MM deal to one club, but clearly there wasn’t a ton of interest, Lowe adds. For what it’s worth, Lowe is skeptical that Cousins’ deal with the Warriors will merit the kind of “hype” or “anguish” that it’s received so far, since his health and fit are still question marks.
  • While a previous report indicated Cousins narrowed his choices to the Warriors and Celtics, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears from a league source that the Celtics didn’t get a chance to make a formal offer. The C’s heard Cousins might have interest in coming to Boston, but by the time they began looking into it, his deal with Golden State was done, says Himmelsbach.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer takes a look at the NBA system that allowed the Warriors to add Cousins to their super-team, exploring whether the idea of a hard cap could gain momentum or stop this sort of move in the future.
  • We rounded up several more Cousins-related notes on Monday night.