There are a lot of guys that will hit the free agent market in the NBA this off-season that will cause a stir. Teams are already lining up and getting their pitches ready to woo LeBron James and Paul George. Those guys seem to have a few options picked out for potential future destinations. DeMarcus Cousins is a guy who's free agency will be way more unpredictable. For years before he was traded to New Orleans, the Sacramento Kings were fielding and refusing offers for his services. Now that he is completely untethered, what will the interest be? He is still one of the most versatile big men in the game, but he is coming off a torn Achilles that kept him off the court for most of the year. How will that change things?
Boogie could be perfectly content to stay in New Orleans if given the chance. The team took a huge step forward this year and really put their foot down in the first round of the playoffs to say "we aren't going anywhere," and they did all that with Boogie on injured reserve for more than 75% of the season.
If he does decide to test the waters, what might DeMarcus Cousins be looking for? It seems obvious that he would want to play for a contender. He would probably also want to be somewhere he has a lot of elite help. With that in mind, let's look at eight teams that could sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason and eight places he would never call home.
16 COULD SIGN COUSINS: NEW YORK KNICKS
The Knicks aren’t quite out of salary cap hell. I mean, will they ever really be? It’s New York where you have to spend money to grab headlines. Also, it’s the Knicks, who when given the chance, will always spend money the dumbest way possible. The team says it plans to be a player in the LeBron sweepstakes this offseason. It would require New York to unload a lot of bad contracts and creatively move money around, but as we’ve seen in Cleveland, it isn’t as hard to get out of cap jail as it seems in the NBA these days.
If he goes to New York, he would be paired with the Latvian Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis.
That would be a nice duo. Imagine how much more dangerous the team would be with Boogie Cousins in the mix. That is a big three that could easily surpass a fading Toronto Raptors and be in the mix with the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers for dominance in the Atlantic division. All three guys are big and can play multiple positions. All three can score inside and outside and all three are defensive presences to be accounted for. If everything falls right, this may be Cousins’ best chance to be part of a super team.
15 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: MIAMI HEAT
Forget what DeMarcus Cousins wants. It is hard to picture Pat Riley wanting to bring another big man to South Beach. The Heat already are dealing with the max contract they regret giving Hassan Whiteside. Reports have the team wanting to bring in a true superstar this offseason, and you can bet it will likely be someone that can extend the Heat’s scoring range significantly. Boogie just isn’t that guy. From his standpoint, it is hard to see the Heat, as currently constructed, having a whole lot of appeal for DeMarcus Cousins. Sure, he thinks he can still be a team’s top scoring option, and maybe he can. In the modern NBA though, it’s hard to picture a lineup full of really good, but probably not great players like Goran Tragic, Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins taking down the Cavs, Celtics or Sixers.
All of the realities of Florida that we mentioned with the Magic can be sold by the Heat too, if the team decides it does want to bring Cousins to town. This just seems like a bad match. It may not necessarily end poorly. It just feels like this marriage would leave both the team and the player stuck in neutral through out the life of whatever contract they might agree to.
14 COULD SIGN COUSINS: MILWAUKEE BUCKS
We are inching closer and closer to the day that the Milwaukee Bucks are every bit as feared in the Eastern Conference as the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokoummpo, is already one of the NBA’s five best players. The team just needs another stud to pair him with in order to get over the first hurdle on their way to being elite: clinching home court advantage in the first round. Boogie could make a world of difference in Milwaukee. A guy that averages more than 11 rebounds per game and causes on average 3 turnovers a night would go a long way towards helping Giannis get more scoring opportunities.
The versatility of his offensive game would be a welcomed addition too. Boogie is a beast down low, but is also a reliable shooter from 3 point range. That would help clear the lane and take defenders away from Giannis. Plus of course, Boogie is a pretty good scorer in his own right. The modern NBA isn’t a place where you can ascend to the top of the mountain with only one star. I mean, I guess with one LeBron it can be done. Giannis is close, but he isn’t LeBron yet. Boogie as a Buck would be good for Boogie and it would be good for the Bucks.
13 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
John Calipari guys are loyal to each other long after they leave Kentucky. Even if they didn’t play together in Lexington, Coach Cal does a great job of making sure his former players get connected in the NBA and form good relationships. It was reported last season that part of what made Anthony Davis open to bringing Boogie to New Orleans was the ringing endorsement of their shared college coach. So could the same be true if fellow Wildcat Karl Anthony Towns is asked about DeMarcus Cousins heading north to Minnesota? History says the answer is probably yes, but it’s hard to imagine Cousins wanting to make it happen. Leaving the Pelicans for the Timberwolves seems like a case of trading a hoagie for a grinder.
These teams are essentially in the same place from a talent perspective.
Maybe Boogie, KAT and Jimmy Butler form a more viable big three than Boogie has right now with Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, but New Orleans is familiar and a little more proven. We also know that if you want to get the most out of DeMarcus Cousins on the court, it is important to have a coach that can manage his sometimes volatile personality. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t seem to have enough chill to be up to that task.
12 COULD SIGN COUSINS: BOSTON CELTICS
The rumours have been swirling for about four years at this point. The Boston Celtics have supposedly put so many different types of packages together to bring DeMarcus Cousins to New England and for one reason or another have just never been able to finalize the deal. Could the 2018 offseason be the year the rumours become highly-anticipated reality? Imagine the starting five Boston will put on the floor for every game if they do bring Boogie in this offseason. It would most likely be Kyrie, Jalen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Al Horford would have to be dealt to create cap space and depth, but even still, sweet fancy Moses! Brad Stevens definitely fits the mold of the type of coach that can handle DeMarcus Cousins at his worst, and that perspective lineup seems like it would do enough winning to tamp down any of the big man’s frustrations. We’ve known for some time that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge covets DeMarcus Cousins’ skill set. It seems like getting him in green would have been much easier when the Celtics had more picks to trade. Now that it is a matter of creating cap space, DeMarcus Cousins in Boston may be a dream too far.
11 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: ORLANDO MAGIC
The Orlando Magic. Oof! That team needs so much work that I don’t even know if signing DeMarcus Cousins would even begin to put a dent in their problems. Cousins has to know that too, right? He has to be aware that joining the Magic would be the same as going back to Sacramento. Orlando will always try to sell free agents on the same two things. First, Florida is a great place to be rich, because of the state’s lack of income taxes. Second, it is a great city for families for obvious Harry Potter and Mickey Mouse related reasons. The latter may be enough to sell his kids on a move to Central Florida, but you’ve gotta think Boogie wants a reason to believe he will someday make it back to the playoffs.
Things just genuinely feel hopeless for the Orlando Magic right now.
Maybe they will find a free agent that wants to be the beginning of the turn around, but the reality is they will probably have to draft a star first and then hope other guys want to join him later. There’s just no reasonable way to picture Boogie wanting to be the spark that starts the Magic’s resurgence.
10 COULD SIGN COUSINS: LOS ANGELES LAKERS
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be players in the pursuit of every major free agent that hits the market in 2018. Team president and franchise legend Magic Johnson has made it clear that he believe’s the brand’s history still has appeal to a generation of stars that have never been in the NBA when the team won a championship. Given all that LA and being a Laker has to offer, he may be right.
We know the Lakers want LeBron and Paul George. George seems like it could happen. LeBron going to Hollywood is a little less of a sure thing. Boogie wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize, and given his versatility in the post, he could occupy the five while Paul George plays the four. Imagine the kick in the pants the addition of two big men would give to Lonzo Ball’s development as an NBA point guard. We know that his greatest strength is as a distributor, and having not one, but two All Stars to potentially throw ally-oops too could make his job a lot easier. From Boogie’s perspective, this makes a lot of sense. He is already comfortable in California. All he needs is a team with talent around him and a game plan for achieving its goals.
9 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: CHARLOTTE HORNETS
Since the original Charlotte Hornets bolted from the Tar Heel State in favour of New Orleans, this city has been one of the most unlucky in all of the NBA. When it was awarded a new franchise in 2004, the new team landed the second pick in its first draft lottery, one pick too late to land Dwight Howard. The next season the then-Bobcats picked fifth. One pick too late to land Chris Paul. Fast forward to 2012. The team again finished second in the lottery, one pick too late to land Boogie’s New Orleans teammate Anthony Davis.
So this is a franchise that hasn’t developed its own superstar in years. On top of that, they are a mess when it comes to the salary cap. They may be able to move enough contracts around to have the money to sign DeMarcus Cousins, but the Hornets will have to convince him that Nic Batum and Kemba Walker are superstars, because they won’t be able to attract much of anyone else. If Charlotte has any hope at all of landing DeMarcus Cousins it is that the Southeast Division is historically weak and it may be the best shot for him to be in the playoffs every year. Somehow though, the prospect of being eliminated in the first round every year doesn’t seem that much better than just missing the postseason entirely.
8 COULD SIGN COUSINS: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
There may be no team that has to make some kind of move this offseason more than the Portland Trailblazers, and if that move were adding Boogie Cousins to the roster it might be enough to keep the team from getting lapped by the Utah Jazz in the Northwest division. Think about it. The Blazers already have the outside game handled with two guards that can score. Having DeMarcus Cousins to clean up the boards and be the threat the team is currently missing in the paint could finally get Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum out of the first round of the playoffs.
From Boogie’s standpoint, it would be interesting to see how effective he is playing with outside shooters.
He had absolutely no help in Sacramento. Anthony Davis is another big men, so that is largely how New Orleans has built their strategy. Would Cousins’ scoring in Portland be made up of mostly second chance points or would the ball be dumped down to him on every possession? How about on defense? How much land clogging and mean mugging would the Trailblazers ask him to do? If he signs in Portland, the team definitely wants Cousins to stay out of trouble, but you can’t tell us Blazers fans wouldn’t like to see some of the attitude of those early 2000s Blazers teams come back.
7 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: DETROIT PISTONS
It seems like Detroit modelled their strategy in the 207-2018 season on what New Orleans did in the 2016-2017 season. At the deadline last season, the Pelicans brought in DeMarcus Cousins and decided if they had two big men that could shoot, they could blend the worlds of old school NBA toughness and new school finesse. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin aren’t quite the shooters Cousins and Davis are, but look at how the team is constructed. The stars are two big men. They have a point guard riddle that needs solving. If DeMarcus Cousins is leaving the Pelicans, it won’t be for a worse version of the Pelicans. Plus, can you construct an old school, big man heavy lineup and still be competitive in the NBA in 2018?
The other thing any free agent needs to consider with Detroit now is what exactly is their plan moving forward? With Stan Van Gundy out it means the Pistons have to find a new coach and a new general manager. If Boogie is already considering his offseason strategy, it isn’t hard to think that he may be crossing off teams whose futures are hard to figure out.
6 COULD SIGN COUSINS: SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Gregg Popovich is a great coach. Let’s make that perfectly clear before we say anything else. He has five titles. He earned every single one of them and he has made a major impact on the NBA as the coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Now, let’s also acknowledge that Gregg Popovich had two of the best big men in league history in back to back generations. Certainly that made his job easier and now that both David Robinson and Tim Duncan are retired, it may explain why the Spurs are sliding back to the rest of the pack.
There are going to be some changes coming to San Antonio in the offseason. Will the team let Tony Parker walk? Will they deal the seemingly disillusioned Kawhi Leonard? Time and health will be the deciding factors on Parker. What if the Spurs decided to go against conventional wisdom on Leonard? What if instead of taking the position that Kawhi is a malcontent that has to go, the Spurs made a hard push to lure DeMarcus Cousins away from their division rivals in New Orleans? A lineup that includes Leonard, Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge should be enough to get the Spurs right back into the conversation for who can dethrone the Warriors out west.
5 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: DALLAS MAVERICKS
America seems to like Mark Cuban more as a reality TV star than as an NBA owner. Hang on. Let’s amend that a little bit. It’s easier for us to see what makes Cuban a successful reality TV star than it is to still picture him as a great NBA owner. The Mavericks have only ever convinced one big time free agent to come to Dallas. That was DeAndre Jordan and he changed his mind before he signed anything and ended up staying in Los Angeles.
Cuban and his staff are trying to plan for life after Dirk Nowitzki and now they will have to do it in the midst of investigations into the hostile work environment in the Mavericks’ front office. Does that seem like the kind of chaos that a guy like DeMarcus Cousins wants any part of? It’s too bad too, because Cousins is exactly the kind of teammate that could bring out the best in rookie point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. He may also be the kind of teammate Dirk needs to make one last playoff run in what will reportedly be his final season. At the end of the day, there are just too many unanswered questions for Boogie to leave New Orleans for a much less stable division rival.
4 COULD SIGN COUSINS: WASHINGTON WIZARDS
We may be looking at the weirdest stare down in NBA history this offseason. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are the best of friends. They played college basketball at Kentucky together and have remained close in their NBA careers. It is no secret they want to play together. Now consider this: New Orleans could stand to make an upgrade at the point. Washington needs to bring in a big man that can score and clog the lane on defense. It’s not hard to picture these two teams waiting each other out to make a move for the former Wildcat on the other’s roster.
Sports talk radio in DC is buzzing a lot about it being time to break up the Wizards.
I can’t quite figure out why though. The team managed to still make the playoffs even with Wall on the bench for a good chunk of the season. It seems like adding Boogie makes all the sense in the world, and given just how bad the rest of the Southeast division is, it could make Washington a perennial playoff team for the foreseeable future. Wall is one of the league’s best distributors. Brad Beal is an elite outside shooter. Adding Boogie gives them a dominant presence down low. If the Wizards can make the money work, they would be fools not to gauge Cousins’ interest.
3 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: SACRAMENTO KINGS
Can you name a single player on the Sacramento Kings’ roster? If you answered yes, it is either because you remember that it is the current home of Vince Carter, or you think that Chris Webber is still on the team. DeMarcus Cousins was shocked that he was traded to New Orleans last season. He even broke down in tears in a video from a going away party that ended up going viral. Boogie was never looking to get out of Sacramento. He was just looking for help. Most of his run-ins with former Kings coaches and players can be boiled down to the team assuming Boogie alone and averaging a double-double every night was enough.
Now, add his history with the team to the hurt feeling and the now obvious ineptitude of general manager Vlade Divac, who traded Cousins to New Orleans for what amounted to a bag of balls and some Windex to wipe down the backboards. Do you really think that is a place that Boogie would consider going back to? There’s a reason people say that you can’t go home again. There is absolutely nothing on the Sacramento roster that should inspire hope or confidence in a guy like Boogie Cousins.
2 COULD SIGN COUSINS: NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Nothing that could happen to DeMarcus Cousins this offseason would make more sense than him staying in New Orleans. The team took huge steps forward this season, and that was largely without him on the court. A lot of NBA pundits have speculated openly about whether or not Cousins would have thrown that development and the balance of the locker room off in any way. We choose to look at it a different way here at the Sportster. Imagine how good the Pelicans could have been with Cousins in the lineup. There doesn’t seem to be any question or conflict about what his role is and where the power lies between Cousins and Anthony Davis. It is very clearly Davis’ team. Adding Cousins to the night-in-night-out lineup would give the team a more physical presence down low.
There is also the personal element to consider. DeMarcus Cousins grew up a little over two hours east of New Orleans in Mobile, Alabama. He still has family there. When he was first traded to New Orleans, DeMarcus Cousins told the media how nice it would be to see them in the stands more often. It seems like accepting a little less to stay close to home is something DeMarcus Cousins could do this offseason.
1 WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR: TORONTO RAPTORS
The Toronto Raptors definitely need another piece if they are ever going to get past LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. There is no doubt that big changes are coming in the offseason, and it’s not unfathomable to think the team would kick the tires on DeMarcus Cousins. It does seem outside the realm of possibility that the interest would be mutual though. Historically the Raptors have had a hard time drawing American born stars that have only played on American based teams in free agency. The taxes are higher. The pay rate is slightly different. These aren’t the biggest deals in the world.
These are just headaches most guys chose to avoid if they can.
Plus, see what we wrote above about DeMarcus Cousins’ desire to be close to his family. Mobile, Alabama is over 1200 miles away from Toronto. There are no direct flights between the two cities either. Finally, the Raptors may be heading for a full on rebuild. The team is deep. They have two reliable stars and a third option that is an absolute menace, but clearly that is not enough. Can you picture Boogie wanting to leave the country to be part of a team that doesn’t have a clear plan to compete?