Last week, Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins went down with a leg injury during Game 2 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. As NBC Sports Bay Area reported, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes that it’s “highly unlikely” Cousins will be able to return at some point in the postseason. With that in mind, many league observers now believe Cousins might have lost a lot of value as he prepares to enter free agency this summer.
However, a new report suggests that there could be some teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, that could sign Cousins if they can’t land a top free agent in the offseason.
In an article published on Tuesday, Bleacher Report‘s Ken Berger took a look at Cousins’ current situation, citing multiple NBA executives — including one from the Western Conference — who reportedly said that the former All-Star big man could lose up to $150 million in the free-agent market due to his injury history. While it was noted that Cousins’ torn quadriceps muscle might not require surgery, Berger also cited physical therapist Dr. Kingsley Yew, who told him that such injuries are normally suffered by older athletes. Cousins, by comparison, is only 28-years-old and still in what should be the prime of his NBA career.
Talking about DeMarcus Cousins’ prospects heading into the summer of 2019, Berger wrote that it’s “all but certain” that the big man won’t return to the Golden State Warriors, who can only offer him a 20 percent raise that would pay him $6.4 million in the 2019-20 season. Given the number of teams with enough salary cap space to sign at least one top-tier free agent, one unnamed Eastern Conference executive reportedly told Berger that the Warriors could easily be beaten out by a team that fails to land “one of the big fish” in the 2019 offseason.
Additionally, one of the Western Conference executives Berger supposedly spoke to was quoted as saying that Cousins could be the “Lakers’ or Knicks’ consolation prize.” The executive did not mention any theoretical offer that Cousins could accept if he joins either team, but Berger speculated that the erstwhile Warriors center could potentially sign a one-year contract worth $10 million to $15 million with a “team [that’s] itching to spend.”
While the Lakers have popped up from time to time as a potential destination for Cousins, as noted earlier this month by Warriors Wire, that hasn’t been the case for the Knicks. According to NBC Sports Bay Area, most reports over the past several months have linked New York to the Warriors’ Kevin Durant — and the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving.
On the other hand, the same Western Conference executive who called Cousins a possible “consolation prize” suggested that it’s also plausible for him to sign another affordable short-term deal with Golden State. This, he added, is because of Cousins’ familiarity with the medical and training staffs that helped him while he was rehabbing from the Achilles tear that prematurely ended his 2017-18 season.
“He’s moved around so much [in recent seasons] that he needs to have some real relationships with somebody, and I don’t think he’s really had that before.”
Despite the outside chance that DeMarcus Cousins may re-sign with the Warriors this summer, Berger concluded his piece by saying that it’s more likely than not that the big man has “played his last game” with Golden State. Berger added that Cousins could look forward to a “more forgiving” market than the one he faced last summer, but stressed that he would still need to make a “crucial decision” this offseason as questions about his health continue to surround him.