Before DeMarcus Cousins’ Achilles injury in January of 2018, the former Kentucky center was expected to be one of the biggest free agents on the market going into last offseason. Averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per contest with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2017-18 season, Cousins was guaranteed to earn a max contract.
After tearing his Achilles, Boogie decided to bet on himself in free agency last summer, opting to sign with the Golden State Warriors for roughly $5.3 million. In his mind, he could take his time in the recovery process, return to the floor around Christmas, dominate the rest of the season, win a ring, and hit free agency as a max-level talent.
The first two steps of that went according to plan, and he came close to following through with the third. In 26 minutes per contest, Cousins averaged 18 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in his last 11 regular season games for the Warriors.
And then in the very first series of the NBA Playoffs, Cousins tore his left quad, keeping him out until the NBA Finals. When he returned, the former Wildcat had a positive +/- finish just once in six games and proved to be a liability more often than not on defense. He couldn’t even get a ring out of the deal, as the Raptors defeated his Warriors to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Now, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Cousins has little-to-no market as a free agent.
“There’s not a market for him,” he said on ESPN late last night. “I think he hoped a big market team would strike out [with other top targets], they’d have cap space, and he could get a one-year, 12, 15, 18, 20 million-dollar deal. That’s not happening. I don’t even know, the mid-level exception he got with Golden State last year, I don’t think that’s there for him.”
Woj says there’s no market for Boogie Cousins ? pic.twitter.com/cuA39jHOhC
— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) July 2, 2019
Upwards of $2.5 billion has been thrown around in just two days of free agency, leaving very little cap space up top. As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers have $32 million remaining, but they’re reportedly saving it all for Kawhi Leonard. If Leonard decides to stay in Toronto or sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, who can potentially create roughly $37 million, the Lakers will have to use that money to fill out the rest of the roster. They do, after all, only have four players currently signed on for next season. Is that a fit?
Elsewhere, Dallas has $22 million remaining, followed by Atlanta with $14 million, Philadelphia with $7.7 million, Indiana with $5.3 million, New York with $3.7 million, and Sacramento with $2.8 million. No other team has more than $2 million available.
With all of those franchises already having starting-level talent at the center position, Cousins’ best bet may be to take the veteran’s minimum with a contender on another prove-it deal before hitting the market again next offseason.
No matter where he ends up and for how much money, you can’t help but feel for the former Wildcat. After being right on the cusp of a max contract, Cousins has had an unbelievable string of bad injury luck.
Here’s to hoping Boogie can find the right fit with a team in the very near future and get back to elite status next season.