DeMarcus Cousins received his fair share of criticism when, coming off a dominant season, he opted to join the defending champion Golden State Warriors on a one-year mid-level exception contract worth $5.3 million.
Yet that criticism was always a bit displaced. Cousins tore his Achilles in January 2018, and wasn’t going to be able to play at the start of the season. When he debuted for the Warriors on Friday, it had been nearly an entire year since he’d last played a game.
Teams weren’t eager to offer a contract to a player who would miss half a year, even if that player was coming off of a season in which he averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game. It seemed a foregone conclusion that he would either re-sign with the New Orleans Pelicans or join the Los Angeles Lakers, yet the the offers never really came.
To hear Cousins tell it, the lack of offers was staggering. In a fascinating article by Shams Charania of The Athletic, Boogie revealed how upset he was at how teams handled him over the offseason:
The Pelicans and Lakers became distant in their interest, and the list of franchises with salary cap space diminished. In 2017, the Sacramento Kings had informed Cousins that they wanted to make him their maximum contract extension player the next summer — only to trade him that All-Star weekend to the Pelicans. Then, the Pelicans had expressed an interest to re-sign him — only to back away come July. Cousins took matters into his own hands, telling those closest to him on the evening of July 1 that he was targeting the Warriors. On July 2, Cousins’ dialogue started with every facet of the Warriors’ basketball powers — from team president Bob Myers and Steve Kerr to Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. This was all Cousins, serving as his own matchmaker.
“The people I reached out to … man, the teams I was talking to, and how they slammed the phone in my face,” Cousins says. “They all slammed the door shut on me. I wish I could share those conversations. But it’s done with. I reached out to teams with the same offer as Golden State, just to see.
Cousins was remarkably open in the interview, and admitted that he and Anthony Davis still talk about what could have been in New Orleans - and that he’s still angry about how it all went down. Some incredible tidbits about him were detailed, including the info that he did much of his early rehab work on a basketball court, to keep him reminded of what the end result would finally be.
It’s only been two games, but Warriors fans are already enamored with Cousins. It’s safe to say after reading him defend his decision, and express his excitement to finally play in the postseason, Dub Nation will be even more strongly in his corner.