While DeMarcus Cousins’ NBA career has been a case study, he’s still a productive player who can make a difference on a playoff team. This past season he found success with the Los Angeles Clippers after a midseason departure from the Houston Rockets.
In the 16 regular-season games he appeared in for the Clippers, Cousins averaged 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc in 12.9 minutes per contest. In the playing time he was granted in the postseason, Cousins provided select scoring jolts.
Still 30, Cousins has a multi-faceted offensive game that includes an ability to finish inside with ease, stick mid- and long-range jump shots and operate in the post. That said, he will likely have to settle for a short-term, low-salary deal given his recent injury history and the roles he has held down in recent years.
Here are three ideal free agent destinations for DeMarcus Cousins.
3. Utah Jazz
Unfortunately for the Jazz, the 2020-21 season that once provided immense hope became another season where they were unable to exorcise their playoff demons. With a high payroll as is and a big decision to make on Mike Conley, the Jazz will have to be selective this offseason. DeMarcus Cousins poses a compelling option for head coach Quin Snyder’s rotation.
Cousins obviously wouldn’t be knocking Rudy Gobert out of the starting center position, but he would bring a contrasting skill set off the bench. When Gobert is off the floor, Cousins would be Utah’s center. He’d help round out a superb second unit from a scoring standpoint. If Jordan Clarkson is indeed coming off the bench again next season, he, Joe Ingles, Georges Niang/Derrick Favors and Cousins would make for a second unit that has post play, shooting and isolation play in its arsenal.
All the while, if Gobert becomes a liability so much so that the Jazz are losing games in crunch time because of his lack of shooting, Cousins could potentially be on the floor for scoring purposes. The veteran’s offensive tendencies would assist Donovan Mitchell in the scoring department.
Cousins would add variety to Utah’s offense. The organization, however, may view his arrival as an impediment to Gobert and prefer to stick with Niang and Favors being the first two big men off the bench.
2. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have a new president and head coach and a reasonable amount of cap space to work with this offseason. DeMarcus Cousins would be a savvy way to partially allocate that money.
Outside of Luka Doncic, the 2020-21 Mavericks relied too heavily on their shooting ability. There was minimal inside play and isolation play. Cousins can do a little bit of everything for new head coach Jason Kidd’s offense. The big man can camp out around the paint, asserting himself in the post. When given the space, Cousins can stick mid-range jump shots. Plus, he’s capable of putting the ball on the floor. If utilized with enough frequency, Cousins could take some attention off Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, leading to fewer double-teams.
Dallas can sign Cousins to a short-term, prove-it deal to be their starting center or sixth man and still have the money to re-sign Tim Hardaway Jr. or another scorer. It’s a high-upside move that would add a new dimension to their offense, specifically a much-needed force from a different part of the floor.
Why wouldn’t Cousins end up in Dallas? They may opt to stick with Boban Marjanovic and Dwight Powell getting hefty minutes and choose to use their cap space on two speedy guards or scorers in general.
1. Charlotte Hornets
The 2020-21 season got away from the Hornets due to injuries to Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. With healthy versions of the aforementioned players present, the addition of DeMarcus Cousins could help this team take the next step.
Hayward is a go-to scorer. Ball had an encouraging rookie season. Terry Rozier has blossomed into a two-way force. Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington are plausible frontcourt players. Jalen McDaniels made strides. Cousins serves as a complement to a well-rounded rotation from a skill set standpoint. Albeit they were playing .500-plus basketball midway through the regular season with moderate center play, adding a scoring center would improve the Hornets.
The youth will improve and grow more productive, which veterans like Rozier have done themselves. Cousins adds a big man who can bang in the paint and pose a threat in half-court sets. Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo are respectable centers, but they aren’t moving the needle for head coach James Borrego’s offense. A five-man unit of Ball, Rozier, Bridges/Washington, Hayward and Cousins is one with five players capable of scoring. Furthermore, it could crack the back end of the volatile Eastern Conference playoff picture.
With a lot to prove, the Hornets offer a chance for DeMarcus Cousins to get his career back on track by helping them reach the playoffs.