On Friday February 21st, 2020, it was reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were waiving Demarcus Cousins in order to open up a roster spot to sign Markieff Morris. Demarcus signed a 1 year, 3.5 million dollar contract with the Lakers in the 2019 NBA offseason. Cousins has not played a game for the Lakers this season after suffering an ACL injury in the 2019 NBA offseason during a pickup game in Vegas. Cousin’s career has taken a big detour ever since his Achilles injury during the 2017-2018 NBA season while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. After being waived by the Lakers, what is the next step in Demarcus Cousin’s career?
It wasn’t too long ago that Demarcus Cousins was the consensus best center in the NBA. In the prime of his career, Demarcus Cousins was a 4 time all-star and made the all NBA second team twice. He never made the playoffs during his time in Sacramento, but he averaged 21.5 points per game and averaged 10.8 rebounds a game during his 7 seasons for the Sacramento Kings. Cousins was one of the league’s top players before his Achilles injury he suffered while playing with the New Orleans Pelicans. In the offseason following his injury, he declined a 2 year 40 million dollar contract to resign with the Pelicans, and he instead decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors for 1 year earning 5.3 million dollars that season.
When Cousin’s signing was announced, it shocked the NBA community. This move also made NBA fans question the fairness and competitive balance of the league. For the first part of the 2018-2019 NBA season, Cousin’s was rehabbing from his Achilles injury. Once he returned to the court, he played 30 games for the Warriors in the regular season and looked out of shape and out of place in the Warrior’s offense. During the Finals, Demarcus played through a quad injury and averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 18 minutes per game. The Warriors eventually lost to the Raptors in the NBA finals and in the 2019 NBA offseason, Cousins opted to sign a one year deal with the Lakers, teaming back up with former New Orleans Pelicans teammates Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo.
Demarcus has spent the 2019-2020 season, rehabbing with the Lakers and spending time with the team. Now that he’s been waived, what’s Cousin’s next step in his career?
Demarcus has struggled to stay healthy and it’s unsure if he will ever return to being the player he once was. Lots of fans are rumoring that a contending team should pursue Cousin’s in the buyout market, but that’s a big risk. It would be very difficult for a contending team to incorporate Cousins into their offense during the playoffs. With DeMarcus’s playstyle and current situation, I don’t think it would be worth signing him. Demarcus should rehab for the rest of the season and get his body back in shape for a return next season. During the 2020 NBA offseason, it will be very intriguing to see what happens with Cousins. He’s a huge wildcard player and we don’t know how he will play on the court after all these injuries over the span of a couple of years. With Cousin’s playstyle, it is very hard to place him in a contending team’s system. Demarcus is known to have a high ego and is a better individual player than a team-oriented player. Demarcus needs to have a lot of post touches to be effective in an offense. He isn’t a great off ballplayer. It is also difficult to fit Demarcus on a rebuilding team because of his competitive nature and ball dominance. This might stunt the growth and development of young players on a rebuilding team if there’s bad locker room chemistry and the young developing players don’t get enough opportunity.
I do think in the offseason a team should take a risk on Demarcus Cousins. Cousins needs to go to a team where he can get the most opportunity to prove to other teams that he can still play at a high level. An ideal situation would be for Demarcus to sign a 1-year deal in the offseason to a team that needs an on-court leader to take the pressure off of the young developing players, as well as a scoring big man who brings a physical presence in the post.
A team I think Demarcus Cousins should go to is the Detroit Pistons. They aren’t going to attract any big-name free agents in the offseason and will most likely be a bottom-feeding team in the 2020-2021 NBA season. The Pistons need an on-court leader like Cousins who isn’t afraid to take big shots. I don’t think he will hinder the development of the Piston’s young players and I also think he will fill some seats in the Piston’s arena.
The Charlotte Hornets are another team that I think should take a chance on Demarcus Cousins. The Hornets have been in search of a center for a while. They originally targeted Drummond as their center, but now that he is most likely going to be staying with the Cavaliers long term, the Hornets could shift their focus to Demarcus Cousins. The Hornets need a big presence down low and a guy who can score inside and play the pick and roll with Rozier and Graham. The Hornets also need a center that will bring grit and physicality on the defensive end. Signing Cousins for a cheap one year deal doesn’t have any risk and he can possibly return to his old form.
It’s sad to think how much Demarcus Cousins’s career has fallen off since his dominant Sacramento days. Him being waived by the Lakers just puts salt on the wound. I think the best thing for Cousins to do is to take the rest of the season off, to rehab and get his body back in shape. In free agency, I believe he should sign a cheap 1 year prove yourself contract with a team where he can get lots of opportunities. If he does prove himself that he can still be an effective center in the league, then you sign a long term deal with a team and get a major payday. If he doesn’t prove himself, then you re-evaluate your options. I am doubtful that Cousins can go back to being an elite center in the NBA, but a fresh start and lots of opportunities to succeed may be what Demarcus Cousin’s needs to revitalize his NBA career.