One of the most standout features of this current iteration of the Golden State Warriors is that for the first time in my memory, players are actually eager to come here. Such was the case when Kevin Durant chose to join up two years ago, and then it happened again over this past summer when All Star Center Demarcus Cousins came out of nowhere to sign with the Warriors. The surprise wasn’t just that he signed here, but that he did so at a completely ridiculous salary of only $5.3 million per year.
In something that has quickly become a sort of ritual for big free agents heading to a new team, Cousins just published a self-written article over at the Players Tribune. I immediately grabbed it and read it because of the title. It’s a quick read, and it is amazingly good so I thought folks may be interested in some of the highlights.
A farewell to New Orleans, and a new chapter
Cousins starts off quickly by thanking both the City of New Orleans, as well as the team he played with there. It’s a classy move.
But then he gets into a subject of debate we’ve been having around here recently: how much does sway does an organization’s communication and support strategy in free agency decisions?
There was never anything negative with the Pelicans. We felt like we were creating something special. We had AD, we had Jrue, doing what they do on a nightly basis. We were steadily building that foundation you need to win....Then free agency hit. It was a lot of, We might be interested. We don’t know if it’s the right fit. All of a sudden, I wasn’t hearing from the Pelicans. I wasn’t hearing from no one. That was tough. We in a nasty business, at times. I don’t even say that in a good or bad way. It’s just no place to get too emotional.
Because of salary cap issues, the Warriors don’t really have any realistic shot at re-signing Cousins after this season - but the broader context of how Cousins came to feel isolated and unwanted by an organization is a pretty clear allegory that Joe Lacob and the Warriors should really take to heart in our dealing with our own bevy of upcoming free agents.
NBA All stars outside Myers office on July 1st pic.twitter.com/YgLdJcB0ub— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) September 27, 2018
So far, so good.
The initial calls met with disbelief, support
Cousins article is fairly short, so you should just click here and read the whole thing, but a few of the bon mots associated with Cousins’ first discussions with various personnel are all golden!
On God, Bob thought it was a prank. He asked us like five times if we were being serious. I broke it down as clear as I could. ...And I said I’d take the minimum. I just wanted a team that wanted me. I was telling him: I wanted to play on the biggest stage and make the most impact I could. After that, Bob wasn’t thinking it was a prank.
Coach was funny on the phone. He was all about it, asking me how I saw myself in their system, things like that. And then right before we hung up, he goes, “You’re gonna make me have to actually coach this year, huh?”
The players, and how they’ve welcomed him
For those of us entrenched into Warriors fandom, it’s become a given that the team is populated by earnest, good dudes, who are willing to set aside ego for the chance to be part of something great. Here’s Cousins talking about exactly that moment.
I wasn’t sure how they’d take the idea of me coming on board. It’s the back-to-back defending champs. I was half expecting them to not want to add anything new to that machine.
But, it was the opposite. They couldn’t have been any more cool with it.
Steph has been great through all this. He’s been texting me this summer. It’s usually like a photo of him cheesing super hard.
Sounds about right.
And even KD came through Vegas this summer and we kicked it. The rest of the summer, he was still sending me texts about how he was in shock about it. He’s like, “I still can’t believe this happened.” Me neither, man.
Well, guys, I guess that makes three of us.
Because I can hardly believe this is real either.