Two seasons ago, DeMarcus Cousins was poised to hit a massive payday.
The two-time All-NBA center was in the midst of another All-Star campaign with an expiring contract and a max deal seemingly assured to be waiting when free agency dropped.
Then he tore his left Achilles tendon in a January matchup between his New Orleans Pelicans and the Houston Rockets, altering the course of his NBA career.
Cousins’ contract struggles
Instead of a long-term max deal, Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors for $5.3 million on a mid-level exception deal that gave him a shot to win a championship and prove doubters that didn’t think he could come back from such a devastating injury wrong.
He did neither.
The Warriors lost in the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors, and Cousins suffered a quad injury in the playoffs that only heightened concerns about his body.
Cousins returned for a mixed-bag Finals appearance that saw him display some of his finesse and touch around the rim, but struggle to get up and down the court.
Woj: ‘Not a market’ for Cousins
Now, Cousins is facing free agency again and sitting without a deal after much of the money has been spent.
What should Cousins expect with the free-agent money drying up?
Not much, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who said late Monday that he might not even be able to find the kind of deal he signed with Golden State last summer.
“There’s not a market for him,” Wojnarowski said. “I think he hoped a big-market team would strike out, have cap space — he could get a one-year, $12, $15 $18, $20 million dollar deal. That’s not happening.
“The mid-level exception he got in Golden State last year? I don’t think that’s there for him.”
No big money in L.A. for Cousins?
Wojnarowski described the exact scenario that now seems most likely for Cousins. Either the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers — or both — will strike out in their pursuit of Kawhi Leonard and have cap space to work with.
But it sounds like neither team is interested in spending big money on Cousins.
From this report, the best Cousins can hope for is signing a small, one-year deal with a team willing to take a chance on his ailing body. That scenario would put Cousins in a similar spot as last season.
Except next season — barring further injury — he would have the opportunity to prove himself over an entire season after he sat out the first half of his Warriors stint recovering from the Achilles tear.
It’s bad news for Boogie. But one team will certainly take a low-risk chance on him for the upcoming season. And at this point, that’s the best he can ask for.
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