The center position is one NBA teams believe they can fill without spending too much money now. Sure, if you have a Joel Embiid or Rudy Gobert or Nikola Jokic at the five teams will back up the Brinks truck, but the Warriors brought back Kevon Looney at $5 million a season, and more and more it’s a position where teams are reluctant to pay big money without knowing they have an elite player at the position.
DeMarcus Cousins was once that elite player. However, after an Achilles tear that seemed to slow him when he did return last season, then a quad tear during the playoffs, not to mention some teams being scared off by his reputation as a locker room challenge (fair or not), there has not been much of a market for Cousins. Players such as Dewayne Dedmon (two years, $25 million) and Robin Lopez ($4.8 million) have found homes, and Cousins still waits.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN put it this way on the network’s air Tuesday:
“There’s not a market for him. I think he hoped that some big market teams would strikeout, they’d have cap space and he could get a one-year, $12 (million), $15 (million), $18 (million), $20 million deal. That’s not happening. The mid-level exception he got in Golden State last year? I don’t think that’s there.”
Trying to shake things up, Cousins is switching agents, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Once the Kawhi Leonard decision comes down there will be teams with some cap space to spend, but that may not help Cousins market much.
The Warriors brought back Looney and then signed Willie Cauley-Stein on Tuesday, ending the idea Cousins could return to the Bay Area. Celtics’ and Knicks’ rumors floated around, but neither team has yet made a move.
Cousins averaged 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for Warriors in the 30 games he played last season after coming back from his Achilles tear. He did so playing with good offensive efficiency, but he did not move terribly well (to be expected, considering the injury) and struggled when teams forced him to defend in space.
Cousins could be forced to take a minimum contract somewhere, or maybe a little more at best (there are rumors he would consider that with the Lakers if Kawhi Leonard goes there). If that happens, he will do it on a one-year contract hoping to find more suitors next summer in what will be more of a down free agent class.