His backup plan? Signing with the Celtics, the best team in a post-LeBron James Eastern Conference.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
The Celtics probably could have squeezed Cousins into the $8,641,000 non-taxpayer mid-level exception, but that would have compromised the rest of the roster. Boston might have also been offering the $5,337,000 taxpayer mid-level exception (which Golden State will pay Cousins).
It seems Cousins – recovering from a torn Achilles – came to terms with a tepid market this year and wanted to play for a winner while rebuilding his stock. The question became where.
Cousins was linked to the Celtics repeatedly before the Kings traded him to the Pelicans, and he would have been an interesting high-upside addition in Boston. But he went where he’d make the biggest splash, and if he gets healthy, he might help render the playoffs a dull romp for Golden State.
Today, though, Cousins’ choice makes the NBA far more interesting.