Signing with the Los Angeles Clippers on a 10-day contract this week, the clock is ticking for former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins to make a lasting impression on the franchise in hopes of earning a deal to remain with the team the rest of the season. And from there, the 30-year-old center is in search of a long-term deal and permanent home as he slowly works his way back from numerous significant injuries.
In his first attempt to pass the eye test as a Clipper, Cousins did his part, finishing with seven points, four rebounds and two assists in seven minutes in the team’s 133-116 blowout victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Despite playing just seven minutes in the win, Cousins said he’s in the “best shape” of his wildly successful 12-year career.
“I’ve put in an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said after the game. “I feel great, my body feels great. I think I’m in the best shape I’ve been in my entire career. At this point, it’s about going out there and just putting everything together and just trying to continue to show that I’m healthy and I’m here to play this game at a high level.
“I understand the situation that I’m in. Whatever opportunity is given to me, I plan on just taking full advantage of it, just controlling what I can control.”
When asked about Cousins’ play and presence on the floor, NBA superstar Paul George said the former Wildcat still has plenty left in the tank to make a serious impact in the league.
“He was great. He’s an All-Star,” George said. “He can finish, he rebounds. I thought you saw a little bit of everything from him tonight, and he showed he’s still got a lot left to give. I’m looking forward to it. … He can really play at a high level still, so I’m looking forward to him getting into a groove, him seeing the floor and just being a great teammate for us.”
Los Angeles head coach Ty Lue says that while Cousins is a touch behind when it comes to running plays and learning the system, the 4-time All-Star remains a “problem” for opponents on the floor.
Once he gets used to day-to-day life as a Clipper, Lue believes Cousins can be a “big talent” for the franchise.
“Cousins was good,” Lue said after the win. “[It’s] just tough because he doesn’t know as many plays right now, so we’re limited offensively. But he’s a problem [for opponents]. He is a big load, he can post up, he can shoot the 3, he can pass the basketball.
“… Just getting him into shape and getting him acclimated to what we are trying to do offensively and defensively, but we already know he’s a big talent.”
He’s only been with the franchise for two days and has played just one game, but it appears they like what they see in the former Wildcat standout.