DeMarcus Cousins

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Conference Finals

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at some of the players currently in the conference finals:

DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors, 28, C (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $5.3MM deal in 2018
Cousins made a snap decision on the second day of free agency last July to bet on himself and chase a ring. There’s a very good chance he’ll get the latter; as for landing a big multi-year contract this summer, that’s a major question mark. He’s unlikely to play against Portland due to the quad injury he suffered in the opening round. There’s no guarantee he’d be back for the Finals. Cousins played well after returning from his one-year rehab for an Achilles tear but it’s fair to question whether the injuries will continue to pile up for the big man.

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers, 28, SG (Up) — Signed to a one-year, $2.8MM deal in 2018
Seeing the Curry brothers go at each other has added to the entertainment value of the conference finals. Seth didn’t fare so well in Game 1 (three points on 1-for-7 shooting) but he was a major factor in Game 2 with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and four steals. After missing all of last season with a left leg injury, the less-heralded Curry has proven to be a valuable rotation player. The Pistons reportedly have him high on their list of free agent targets. They certainly won’t be alone — career 43.9% 3-point shooters tend to attract a crowd.

Marc Gasol, Raptors, 34, C (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $113.2MM deal in 2015
Gasol said earlier this month he’s undecided whether to exercise his $25.6MM player option. At this stage of his career, Gasol is probably more focused on being a good fit and feeling comfortable than his bank account. But he’d be losing many millions if he doesn’t opt in. Quite frankly, he’s no longer a $25MM player. More than half of his field-goal attempts in the playoffs have come from beyond the arc and he’s not making them. He shot 26.9% from deep against the Sixers in the conference semis and went 2-for-7 in Game 1 against the Bucks. He’s scored in single digits in 10 of 13 games this postseason.

Brook Lopez, Bucks, 31, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $3.4MM deal in 2018
Following a series of forgettable conference semifinal outings, Lopez blew up in Game 1 against Toronto. He piled up 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to carry the Bucks to an early lead in the series. Lopez was arguably the biggest bargain in free agency last summer. He was an ideal fit for the Bucks’ high-powered attack as a ‘stretch five.’ His advanced defensive numbers this season were the best of his career. Milwaukee has other free agency concerns, most notably Khris Middleton, but re-signing Lopez should be a high priority as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kevin Durant Expected To Miss Entire Western Conference Finals

Kevin Durant is unlikely to play until the NBA Finals should the Warriors make it that far, a source tells Monte Poole of NBC Sports. Durant returning at any point during the postseason remains in question.

Durant won’t make the trip to Portland for Game 3 and 4. Instead, he will stay behind to work with the team’s medical staff. Golden State announced today that Durant has shown progress as he recovers from a strained calf, but he is not ready to participate in on-court activity.

The Warriors were hoping Durant would be able to return during the Western Conference Finals so that he could get re-acclimated with the team before a possible NBA Finals appearance.

DeMarcus Cousins has progressed to on-court activity, per the team. He’s not quite ready for live action, but his status appears more favorable than Durant’s at this time.

Both players are expected to be re-evaluated in a week, according to the Warriors.

Durant, Cousins Could Miss Conference Finals

Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are not close to returning to action, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the media, including the Associated Press’ Janie McCauley, on Monday.

A report earlier in the day indicated Durant would miss at least Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday with his calf strain. Durant was injured during Game 5 of the conference semifinals against Houston.

Kerr said Durant hadn’t “even stepped on the floor” yet, so any speculation about when he’ll return is pointless.

“We’ve tried to remain somewhat vague because the injury is really sort of open-ended in terms of how long he’s going to need to recover. But I think in doing so people have gotten the idea that he’s going to come back and be Willis Reed or something,” Kerr said. “He hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet, he still has pain. There’s time ahead of him on the rehab process.”

Golden State defeated Houston on the road Saturday without Durant to wrap up that series. Now, the Warriors are faced with the possibility of playing without Durant for much, if not all, of the conference finals against Portland. The Trail Blazers are banged up as well, as they’ve advanced through the playoffs without starting center Jusuf Nurkic. Key reserve Rodney Hood suffered a bone bruise on his knee Sunday in Game 7 against Denver.

Cousins partially tore his left quadriceps muscle in Game 2 of the first round against the Clippers. There has been growing optimism that he’d back at some point during the conference finals but Kerr downplayed that possibility.

“He hasn’t had any live stuff on the court yet, so he’s not that close either,” Kerr said. “Hopefully another week goes by and things start to get better and now we have a better prognosis. At this point we’re getting ready for this series without both of them.”

Cousins Could Be Back During Conference Finals

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins could return to action during the Western Conference finals, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets.

Cousins suffered a partially torn quad muscle in the Warriors’ opening-round series against the Clippers on April 15th.

Initially, Cousins was ruled out indefinitely and many people anticipated he would have to sit out the remainder of the postseason. But he said earlier this week he’s hopeful of playing again during Golden State’s drive for a third consecutive championship.

“For me, my goal is I ain’t planning on sitting,” Cousins said. “I don’t know the reality of it. But for me, that is not what I’m planning on doing. … It’s definitely some type of bad movie. But I think it will have a very nice ending. Just wait for it.”

Cousins’ injury occurred in a non-contact situation after he made a steal. The injury did not require surgery and he’s made steady progress during his rehab. If he doesn’t have any setbacks, he could give the club a major boost inside with his scoring and rebounding. It’s still unknown how much time Kevin Durant will miss due to a calf strain suffered in Game 5 against Houston.

Cousins spent a year rehabbing from a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered while playing for the Pelicans. He made his Warriors debut on January 18th.

He could also give his free agent stock a boost if he returns and plays well. He’ll be on the open market once again this offseason.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Durant, Iguodala, Cousins

Speculation over Kevin Durant‘s future has been hounding the Warriors for months, but Klay Thompson‘s upcoming free agency is being almost overlooked, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Thompson will also be unrestricted this summer, but he is expected to re-sign with the organization. He has said publicly that he expects a max contract, which would pay him $188MM over five years or $221MM in a super-max deal if he makes an all-NBA team.

“The media, I think, give him a little bit of a break as far as over-speculating and throwing him into the fire because he hasn’t really fueled it — at all,” teammate Andrew Bogut said. “You’ve never heard him say anything bad about wanting to leave here or going to another team or being the No. 1 option. You’ve never even heard that off the record. Some players say the right thing publicly but have different feelings [in private]. He completely wants to be here and he gets it that this is a very rare situation.”

Re-signing Thompson would give the Warriors a measure of stability heading forward, regardless of what happens with Durant. He has been part of the Warriors’ core over the five years that they have been elite and ranks second only to LeBron James in the number of playoff games in that span.

“I think Klay sort of ties it all together in a lot of ways,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “There’s not one person in this organization who would ever question Klay’s agenda or motives.”

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Knicks fans shouldn’t start the Durant celebration just yet, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who talked to Marcus Thompson II, author of a new book titled, “KD: Kevin Durant’s Relentless Pursuit to Be The Greatest.” Thompson acknowledges that the Knicks will be strong contenders, but he believes Golden State’s chances of keeping Durant have improved.
  • Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have both been cleared to play in tonight’s Game 5, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The Warriors were upset about how Iguodala got hurt at the end of Monday’s game, accusing Chris Paul of intentionally clipping his knee from behind on a rebound, according to Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Livingston has been dealing with a sore left hip.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was jogging and putting up 3-point shots in a workout this afternoon, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Cousins is determined to overcome a quad injury and return to action before the postseason is over.

Cousins Remains Hopeful Of Returning This Season

DeMarcus Cousins‘ season may not be over after all. It was generally assumed that Cousins was done for the season after he suffered a partially torn quad muscle in the Warriors’ opening-round series against the Clippers on April 15th.

Cousins told ESPN’s Marc Spears on Monday that he’s hopeful of playing again during Golden State’s drive for a third consecutive championship.

“For me, my goal is I ain’t planning on sitting,” Cousins said. “I don’t know the reality of it. But for me, that is not what I’m planning on doing. … It’s definitely some type of bad movie. But I think it will have a very nice ending. Just wait for it.”

Cousins’ injury occurred in a non-contact situation after he made a steal. He was ruled out indefinitely after the injury was diagnosed, though the team left the door open that he might play again during the playoffs if he responded well to treatment. An NBC Sports Bay Area report on Sunday indicated that Cousins and another injured Golden State big man, Damian Jones, could return at some point this postseason.

Cousins’ comment to Spears gives further credence to that possibility.

Cousins spent a year rehabbing from a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered while playing for the Pelicans. He made his Warriors debut on January 18th.

Cousins was thrilled that his latest injury didn’t require surgery.

“Obviously, I was little more relieved that it wasn’t anything catastrophic like I’ve dealt with before,” he told Spears. “It (stinks) to be injured anyway on top of that. The timing of it really (screwed) me up the most. It’s a part of this game, man. I’m not the first. I won’t be the last.”

Along with boosting his team, Cousins could help himself financially with an effective return this postseason. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent once again in July.

Cousins, Jones Could Return For Warriors

Centers DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones may be available later in the playoffs if the Warriors keep winning, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Coach Steve Kerr offered health updates on both players today, saying they are making progress and Jones could be cleared for contact next week.

Cousins was feared to be lost for the season after suffering a torn left quad in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Clippers. He was ruled out indefinitely, although there was some hope that he could return if he responded well to treatment.

Jones, who is already able to participate in three-on-three drills, hasn’t played since undergoing surgery for a torn left pectoral muscle in December. He began the season as the Warriors’ starting center, but appeared in just 24 games before the injury.

Golden State would welcome some help at center after being decisively out-rebounded in Game 3 against the Rockets. The Warriors have been getting by with Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut in the middle, but have mainly been using a small lineup with no true center on the court.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Jones, Cousins, Clippers

Speaking today to reporters, new permanent Suns general manager James Jones took responsibility for the dismissal of head coach Igor Kokoskov, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. Owner Robert Sarver has taken the brunt of the criticism – perhaps deservedly so – for the revolving door of coaches in Phoenix, but Jones said that firing Kokoskov was “my decision alone,” per Rankin.

“The decision I had to make Monday was a tough one,” the Suns GM told the media. “Not one I take lightly.”

As for who might replace Kokoskov on the Suns’ bench, Jones said today that the club is seeking a “leader” who can relate to and challenge its players (Twitter link). While that description might sound generic, the mention of leadership is worth noting — after all, one report this week suggested that Suns players felt assistant coach Joe Prunty was more in charge of the bench than Kokoskov was.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Later in today’s press conference, Jones said that the Suns want to focus on adding players “in their prime” this summer, and will explore all possible avenues to do so (Twitter link). Phoenix doesn’t project to have much – if any – cap room, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the club is on the trade market.
  • In an in-depth look at Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report cites one Western Conference executive who believes that Cousins’ Achilles and quad injuries over the last two years may ultimately cost him upwards of $150MM. Berger also explores whether it’s realistic to believe that Golden State could re-sign Cousins, even after his latest health issue.
  • While the Clippers have tried to hold their own against the Warriors and have one impressive comeback win under their belts, the series has reaffirmed why L.A. ultimately needs a superstar on its roster, says Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Despite their depth, the Clips don’t have the sort of No. 1 option who can go head to head with Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant, so their foray into free agency this summer will be worth watching closely.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Cousins, Beverley

Despite perhaps surrendering a chance​ to​​ claim​ additional MVP awards and scoring titles, among other accolades and/or recognition, Warriors forward Kevin Durant does not appear to have any regret about joining Golden State in the summer of 2016, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic.

“I came here knowing for a fact, that every media member, every fan was going to call me every name in the book for however long I was here and I was going to take the brunt of everything. I knew coming here,” Durant said. “But I wanted to be a part of this so bad, I didn’t (care).”

According to Lee, Durant has actually had the chance to improve his game despite playing with a better supporting cast because he has learned to move more consistently and more urgently while off the ball and further developed his ball handling, helping him get to his spots where his high-released shot remains lethal.

In regard to the constant comparison to other greats, Durant says that comparison is simply a need for joy, and that when you focus on other player’s accomplishments instead of your own goals, you end up taking away from the focus of trying to make yourself the greatest that you can be. Accordingly, Durant appears to be singularly concerned with this season and winning a third-straight championship with the Warriors.

There are a few other notes out of Oakland this evening:

  • In an interesting piece worth a full read, Nick Friedell and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reflect on the injury suffered by center DeMarcus Cousins in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Clippers on Monday night. The team understandably still possesses a great amount of confidence in their ability to win a championship without Cousins’ help, but even if a third-straight banner is raised, the storybook ending for Cousins after returning from a torn Achilles is no longer on the table.
  • In another article surrounding the news of Cousins’ season-ending quad injury, Anthony Slater of The Athletic analyzes how life will change for Golden State without their big man now (more opportunity for Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney), in the near future (perhaps not a big issue against the Rockets), and later on this summer (could the Warriors get Cousins back on the cheap for a second straight offseason?).
  • In a separate article from Friedell, it’s relayed that Durant is not worried about the Clips’ pesky point guard Patrick Beverley causing Durant to lose his rhythm. “(I could make some contested shots over Beverley), (b)ut that’s not really gonna do nothing for us with the outcome of the game, ’cause we got a nice flow, everybody’s touching the rock, everybody’s shooting and scoring.” In other words, Durant isn’t going to force anything in some kind of veiled effort to show-up Beverly or win a one-on-one contest.

DeMarcus Cousins Diagnosed With Torn Quad

The Warriorsfears have been confirmed, as big man DeMarcus Cousins has been diagnosed with a torn left quad, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

According to Charania (via Twitter), the tear will almost certainly end Cousins’ season, though he and the team will see how he responds to the first couple weeks of rehab. For now, the Warriors have ruled him out indefinitely.

The injury isn’t expected to require surgery, sources tell Charania. Marc Spears of The Undefeated adds (via Twitter) that the former All-Star is still waiting to learn the “full extent” of the injury, which presumably includes a recovery timeline.

As we detailed earlier today, Cousins’ latest injury is a brutal break for the 28-year-old, who has now had two consecutive contract years cut short by major leg injuries. After missing the postseason in his first seven NBA seasons, Cousins has been on playoff teams in each of the last two seasons, but was unable to suit up last spring for the Pelicans due to his Achilles tear, and now will likely end up playing just 25 playoff minutes for Golden State.

Cousins, who spent the first half of the 2018/19 season recovering from his Achilles injury, averaged an impressive 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.5 BPG in 30 games (25.7 MPG) for the Warriors, positioning himself for a more lucrative contract than his current one-year, $5.34MM deal. Faced with another major injury though, he may have to take a second consecutive one-year, prove-it contract this summer in the hopes of once again rebuilding his value.

With Cousins sidelined, the Warriors will lean more heavily on Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney at the five, with Jordan Bell perhaps seeing occasional minutes as well.