Before the Kings traded him to the Pelicans, DeMarcus Cousins said he and former Kentucky teammate John Wall sometimes talk about teaming up in the NBA. Of course, Cousins said he wanted Wall to join him in Sacramento and Wall wanted the reunion with the Wizards.
Now, Wall sheds more light on those conversations.
Wall, in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
Did you ever talk to your former Kentucky teammate and fellow NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins about playing for the Wizards before the Sacramento Kings dealt him to the New Orleans Pelicans?
I talked to him. He said he would come to D.C., but he didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know he was going to be traded like that. We thought it was going to be later on or he was just going to stay [in Sacramento]. It shocked me just like it shocked him.
Were you disappointed the Wizards weren’t able to get Cousins?
It was so crazy because he walked past me when I was talking to the media [after the NBA All-Star Game] and he said something about the trade. I was like, ‘Huh.’ It didn’t register what he said. So I called him right when I got to my phone. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m at the airport. I don’t know where to go. Do I go back to ‘Sac’ or do I stay here?’
He was just hurt. I feel that with all the tough times he had been through [in Sacramento], he never gave up on the city. There was so much he did for the community. So much that he gave back. He always showed that he wanted to be there whether they were losing bad or not. In six years, he never said he wanted to leave.
For a guy to give that type of a commitment, you would think he would stay there. I guess they didn’t like the way it was going. I hope he’s in a better place now. He’s happy. Hopefully, they can make the playoffs and get a push. If not, he’s got a free summer this summer to figure out where he’s going to be.
There are two possible readings of “He said he would come to D.C.:”
1. Cousins planned to join the Wizards.
2. Cousins was willing to join the Wizards.
No. 2 seems much more likely. Cousins reportedly planned to sign a designated-veteran-player extension with the Kings before they traded him. In fact, Cousins wanted that extension – available from only Sacramento, which drafted him – so badly, his agent threatened not to re-sign with any team that traded for the center. Plus, Wall’s answer to the second question reveals his understanding of Cousins’ commitment to the Kings.
But Cousins staying in Sacramento is obviously out the window. The Pelicans have floundered with him, and he’ll be a free agent in 2018.
Could he join Washington?
The Wizards have an excellent starting lineup, but center Marcin Gortat (33) is significantly older than Wall (26), Bradley Beal (23), Otto Porter (23) and Markieff Morris (27). Cousins (26) would better fit the others’ timeline.
However, Washington doesn’t project to have cap space in 2018. Even stripping the roster to just Wall, Beal, Morris and Porter (assuming he re-signs as a restricted free agent this summer) – no easy task with Ian Mahinmi, Gortat and Jason Smith under contract – doesn’t project to leave enough cap space to offer Cousins anywhere near the max. And shedding Beal or Porter – dropping Morris almost certainly wouldn’t be enough to create max space – would make the Wizards far less inviting for Cousins.
A Wall-Cousins reunion might just have to remain a fantasy.