As the initial free agency frenzy slows down, the San Antonio Spurs could have the opportunity to add four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins without breaking the bank.
After accepting a mid-level exception last summer to join the Golden State Warriors for one season, free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is looking for his next opportunity to prove himself and reestablish his status as an elite-quality NBA big man. An Achilles tear suffered as a Pelican in the 2017-18 season sidetracked what seemed to be a legendary trajectory for the game’s most versatile five.
Things didn’t go quite as Cousins planned with Golden State; his team succumbed to injury and collapsed in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2016. He had a lackluster showing in his ever postseason appearance, averaging only 7.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game.
Although the playoffs didn’t turn out the way Boogie might’ve hoped, especially considering the quad injury he suffered in the first round that sidelined him until the Finals, the 28-year-old showed enough promise in the regular season and in flashes during the postseason to prove that he can still be the player we saw in New Orleans and Sacramento before that.
Over the last day or so, the San Antonio Spurs have made multiple connections to the unrestricted free agent, who ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski claimed has virtually no market value right now. With Boogie searching for his next home, it sounds like the Spurs may be recruiting the big man to the Alamo City.
During a brief appearance on NBATV, The Athletic’s Shams Charania claimed that Spurs star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan has been in contact with Demarcus Cousins recently, suggesting that he could find himself settled in San Antonio next season.
Furthermore, reporter Marc Stein of the New York Times fired his previous agent and signed on with world-renowned agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports. One of Schwartz’s top clients just so happens to be Spurs cornerstone power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has spent plenty of time alongside Boogie at various All-Star events and elsewhere.
The stars are aligning for the Spurs to make a push for Boogie. There seems to be a resounding nervousness about Cousins’ influence on the locker room and general attitude, but I believe that these claims are being overstated. In his lone season in the Bay Area, Cousins proved that he can dedicate himself to a team and sacrifice by any means possible. The previous attitude issues were a non-factor under Warriors coach Steve Kerr last season.
At this point in his career, Cousins is matured and realizes the seriousness of his situation. If he could take a one-year flier deal to join the Spurs, who also helped rehabilitate his former teammate Rudy Gay after an Achilles tear, all sides could benefit greatly.
The details of Cousins’ quad injury are largely unclear to the general public, but the Spurs nursed franchise point guard Tony Parker back from a torn quad suffered in the 2017 Playoffs. While the Kawhi Leonard saga ridiculed the organization’s medical staff’s reputation in the public eye, they’ve also done a masterful job of rehabilitating every other player along the way and the players Boogie is in contact with can attest to that.
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San Antonio’s roster is tentatively complete at this point, so it’d take some maneuvering from R.C. Buford via trade or waiving someone like Chimezie Metu from the end of the lineup. Still, there is plenty of opportunity here as long as the team strikes while the iron is hot.
Under the guidance and expectations laid out for him by Gregg Popovich, who Cousins is already familiar with from All-Star and USA Basketball events, Boogie could regain his status as one of the best centers in the NBA while expanding his game, playing alongside a happy and cohesive group of players, learning from the best coach that the game has to offer and competing for a championship in the process.
With Cousins on the roster, the Spurs become an instant Western Conference contender once more. This is the kind of earth-shattering move that would push the tempo for San Antonio as the rest of the Western Conference strengthens their rosters.
It’s do or die time now, and San Antonio could be in line for a roster shakeup given the opportunity at hand.