When DeMarcus Cousins signed an apparent bargain contract with the Golden State Warriors during the summer of 2018, the widespread reaction in the NBA was one of surprise and abject fear. On one hand, Cousins had an All-Star pedigree and was taking a modest salary in pursuit of a championship. On the other, Cousins’ market in free agency didn’t seem to materialize, leaving the talented big man with few options, and he simply chose the one that gave him the best chance at long-term success.
The end result was mixed for Cousins but, one year later, the 28-year-old agreed to a short-term deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cousins showed flashes of brilliance with the Warriors, appearing in 30 regular season games and averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. Just as he seemed to be turning the corner, though, the former No. 5 overall pick hit another injury snag, finally returning during the NBA Playoffs but doing so in a markedly limited capacity.
Still, there was reported interest from a number of teams for his services.
Cousins signing with the Lakers comes hours after Kawhi Leonard finally made a decision in free agency, and it was a shocking one. Leonard shifted the balance of power in the NBA by sparking a Paul George trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, then signing there himself to make a new power in the west. The Lakers, in response, have started to round out their roster, opting to sign role players with the space that would have gone to Leonard if he joined their team.
It remains to be seen as to just how productive (and healthy) Cousins can be at this stage, but a full summer to recover and work on his body could be beneficial. At the very least, he remains an incredibly talented offensive force and, given his age, there is plenty of reason to think he can recapture at least some of the overall appeal that made him a star in Sacramento.