It seems like a lifetime ago when DeMarcus Cousins was one of the most promising young big men in the NBA during his All-Star days in Sacramento. It’s been a steep and steady decline ever since as he’s battled multiple injuries, the most recent of which was an ACL tear that cost him all of last season.
Cousins has been back on the court with the Rockets, but the team announced on Tuesday that they were officially parting ways with him, despite guaranteeing his contract last week for the remainder of the season. Cousins had been acting as backup center behind emerging star Christian Wood and was logging a respectable 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 20 minutes of action.
But his lack of lateral quickness has rendered him a liability on defense, and what’s more, it makes it difficult to envision a scenario in which he can play a significant role on a contender that might be looking to add a little size and scoring punch as they look ahead to the postseason.
Regardless, someone will likely take a gamble on him and talk themselves into believing that he still has some juice left as a scorer who can provide some spot minutes at center. Here are three possible destinations that might make that happen.
The latest rumors claim that the Lakers aren’t actually interested in potentially adding Cousins, but you have to take that with a grain of salt. Cousins spent all of last season on the Lakers bench as he recovered from ACL surgery, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he could add some depth to a roster that is currently lacking size due to the Anthony Davis injury.
Marc Gasol certainly isn’t what he used to be as a defender or an offensive threat, but savvy and experience make up for a lot. Given his injury history, Cousins’ defensive issues are a real concern, although he could possibly add some scoring to the second unit. The recently waived Quinn Cook clears a roster spot, and depending on how long Davis is sidelined, it could make sense as a stop-gap solution.
The Raptors climbed above .500 this week, thanks to a four-game win streak, earning the No. 5 seed in a conference that has become increasingly top-heavy once you get past the Sixers, Nets, and Bucks. It’s the Wild East, and if they want to fight for good playoff positioning, they could use some extra size in the paint and on the boards.
According to the most recent reports, they’d prefer to make a go at Andre Drummond, who’s currently being held out of the rotation in Cleveland as they work toward a buyout. But Cousins would be a much better bargain, even if he comes with all the bargain-bin baggage. The question is whether he fits what they want to do. He’d arguably be an offensive upgrade over Aron Baynes, and he’d help out on the glass, as Toronto has been one of the worst defensive rebounding teams all season. However, on a team that values defensive versatility, he’s certainly not a snug fit.
The Blazers frontcourt issues have been well-documented. With Zach Collins out for the season and Jusuf Nurkic out six weeks with a fractured wrist, the center position is virtually nonexistent. But if Terry Stotts can make it work with Enes Kanter clocking substantial time in the middle, then he can surely find a solution for Cousins.
And if you need any further evidence that the Blazers are in the business of refurbishing careers that were previously on the fritz, then look no further than Carmelo Anthony, who was out of the league entirely before finding new life in Portland last season. The Blazers have been on a hot streak despite their injuries, winning seven of their last 10 and moving them into the No. 5 spot in the West.
Cousins, ostensibly, would act much like Kanter in a reserve role, bringing scoring and rebounding to their second unit and trying to minimize what he’d give back on the defensive end. But Portland could be just the right fit for a player who faces a great deal of uncertainty at this point in his career.