DeMarcus Cousins was, not less than early in his tenure with the Houston Rockets, one of many worst gamers within the NBA. Through 11 video games, he averaged 6.1 factors on 26.3 p.c taking pictures. But in late January, glimpses of the previous All-Star started to shine by way of. In his final 14 video games, he is as much as 12.4 factors on 44.6 p.c taking pictures, and in his remaining outing as a Rocket, he gave Houston 19 factors, eight rebounds and 4 assists. He remains to be a extremely flawed defensive participant with extraordinarily restricted mobility. His shot-selection is questionable to say the least, and he is one of many NBA’s biggest damage dangers. His celebrity upside, in all chance, is gone. But in a really particular type of position with the precise teammates, Cousins can nonetheless be a reasonably productive NBA participant, and reasonably productive NBA gamers not often hit the market in February. Cousins might not have star upside, however his upside relative to the obtainable options is gigantic. There goes to be curiosity in Cousins now that he is obtainable, and these 5 groups are essentially the most logical locations. The Lakers took their activate the Cousins carousel final season, and by all accounts, it was a reasonably optimistic expertise. Though he by no means performed for Los Angeles due to the torn ACL that stored him out for your entire season, he was a very good soldier on the sidelines, and when he was waived in February to make room for buyout additions, there was reportedly mutual curiosity in a return. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor is reporting that the Lakers are nonetheless excited about such a reunion now.On a short-term foundation, that is not significantly stunning. The Lakers are quick on dimension with Anthony Davis out, and even when he returns, the 2 discovered success collectively in New Orleans and so loved enjoying with each other that Davis recruited Cousins to Los Angeles within the first place in 2019. 

The pertinent query right here is how Frank Vogel would match Cousins into the rotation. He merely cannot coexist with Marc Gasol defensively. The two are too gradual to share the ground. A Montrezl Harrell match is not perfect both. Any staff signing Cousins would achieve this for the offensive upside, however based on Synergy Sports, Harrell is within the 98th percentile in general offensive effectivity. Cousins cannot enhance upon that. Harrell has blossomed as a one-on-one scorer this season, scoring a formidable 1.2 factors per possession in isolation. Asking him to surrender possessions for Cousins minimizes his worth, particularly as he’s a non-threat from behind the arc. Defenses are completely comfy sagging off of Cousins as properly, additional inhibiting Harrell within the paint, and Harrell’s personal defensive limitations would additional weaken the pairing as a complete. Davis is the one Laker geared up to cowl Cousins’ deficiencies, and he is out in the meanwhile. Even when he returns, there simply aren’t that many middle minutes to go round, particularly when Davis begins enjoying extra middle minutes within the postseason. The Lakers might divide the place amongst Cousins, Gasol and Harrell, however how joyful any of them can be with that association stays to be seen. Rob Pelinka might tackle these issues on the commerce market, although that does not appear overly possible both. Both Gasol and Harrell took pay cuts to play for the Lakers. Harrell is represented by Klutch Sports, who additionally represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He left cash on the desk as a result of he believed that being a Laker would assist enhance his worth in 2021 free company. Would incurring Klutch’s wrath over betraying Harrell actually be value it simply so as to add Cousins? Gasol is Laker royalty. His brother, Pau, is a staff legend that already left on dangerous phrases. The Buss household would most likely desire to not additional alienate him by dealing his brother after he took a particularly team-friendly deal within the offseason. 

If Cousins joined them, Vogel must juggle one other large title in an already crowded rotation. He efficiently did so final season, and LeBron James-led groups by no means shrink back high-risk, high-reward additions, however including Cousins wouldn’t be so simple as inserting one other large man onto a staff hurting for dimension. Speaking of groups hurting for dimension, the Blazers are basically pretending that the backup middle place does not exist. Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Harry Giles are all out with accidents, and the Blazers have turned to excessive small-ball simply to get by every time Enes Kanter goes to the bench. It creates among the most jarring stylistic contrasts in basketball. Kanter can not defend outdoors of the paint. Robert Covington offers extra rim-protection than a participant of his dimension ought to, however he is at his finest roaming the perimeter and looking for steals and deflections. The Blazers are attempting to get away from the type of drop protection Kanter makes a speciality of. It comes with critical limitations within the playoffs. But accidents have compelled their hand, so they may as properly embrace it for the time-being. Terry Stotts has efficiently hidden Kanter’s defensive flaws within the common season, so in idea, he might do the identical for Cousins. Portland was excited about Cousins in 2018 earlier than he signed with the Warriors, and as we noticed with Carmelo Anthony, the Blazers are completely keen to scoop up a former goal properly after the remainder of the league has misplaced curiosity. Anthony’s redemption tour has largely been successful. Perhaps the Blazers might have the identical impact on Cousins. 

Only one large man on Toronto’s roster has a optimistic internet ranking this season. When Chris Boucher is on the ground, the Raptors play properly. When Aron Baynes or Alex Len is on the ground, they do not. Toronto is already scoping out the middle marketplace for an improve with Andre Drummond reportedly of their sights. Cousins can be a decidedly cheaper choice, and one that may carry the offensive versatility they have an inclination to desire of their large males. The query right here can be protection. Toronto shouldn’t be precisely identified for the conservative schemes {that a} participant as bodily restricted as Cousins depends upon for survival. They change. They blitz. They play aggressive zones which are solely as efficient as their slowest rotation. That would virtually actually be Cousins. Nick Nurse is as adaptable as any coach in basketball. If any coach might devise a protection able to protecting for his weaknesses with out compromising the strengths of the remainder of Toronto’s roster, it is him. But Toronto’s total id over the previous a number of seasons has been primarily based on each member of their rotation each defending and taking pictures. They’ve needed to compromise a bit out of necessity this season, however Cousins would take that to a brand new stage. Desperate occasions may’ve known as for determined measures a couple of weeks in the past, however with the Raptors 8-3 of their previous 11 video games, they will afford to be a bit choosier than they might’ve been earlier within the season. 

Golden State WarriorsIn pure basketball phrases, a return to the Warriors most likely makes extra sense for Cousins than rejoining the Lakers. Golden State’s offense falls off of a cliff each time Stephen Curry goes to the bench. With him, they rating 113 factors per 100 possessions. Without him? Only 100.6. They’ve made up for that with stellar bench protection, however a lot of that’s primarily based on unsustainable taking pictures luck. Opponents are hitting 38 p.c of their 3’s with Curry on the ground and 34.7 p.c with out him. If any a part of you thinks that is likely to be Curry’s fault, keep in mind that his minutes are largely tethered to Draymond Green’s. Eventually, opponents are going to regress to the imply in opposition to Golden State’s bench, and when that point comes, they might most likely use a bit extra of a punch offensively. Cousins might present it. He is aware of the system, and his passing might encourage off-ball motion that has been sorely missing with out Curry and Draymond. But if Golden State actually wished to maintain Cousins in 2019, it most likely might have. There have been hard-cap issues after the D’Angelo Russell sign-and-trade, however Cousins might have match had they let Kevon Looney go. They did not, although, and when Looney returns from damage, there isn’t any motive to consider Steve Kerr will take him out of the rotation. The similar is true of James Wiseman. His improvement is just too vital to the group’s long-term outlook to be sacrificed for Cousins minutes. Toss within the occasional sprint of small-ball, which has usually labored properly for Golden State this season, and the Warriors won’t have sufficient minutes to fulfill Cousins now.  

There’s going to be some hypothesis about Brooklyn as a vacation spot for Cousins given his relationship with Kevin Durant and their lack of dimension, however in pure basketball phrases, it does not make sense. Small-ball lineups with Jeff Green because the nominal middle are working. Brooklyn has greater than sufficient firepower as it’s. Can they actually afford one other defensive legal responsibility? Especially one that does not precisely get together with James Harden? Probably not. If Cousins is headed to the massive apple, the Knicks are the likelier touchdown spot. They are, in any case, with out beginning middle Mitchell Robinson, and their No. 24-ranked offense wanted a jolt even earlier than his damage. Cousins has a comparatively comparable skill-set to Julius Randle, New York’s main shot-creator, and will permit for some systemic consistency when he goes to the bench. There aren’t many facilities able to dealing with the ball, passing it and taking pictures it in addition to Randle does, but when his final handful of video games are any indication, Cousins may be capable of come shut in restricted minutes. While Tom Thibodeau has granted his extra athletic facilities license to defend the perimeter, the Knicks aren’t a very switchy protection. Cousins might handcuff himself to the rim and survive in New York. There’s additionally the Kentucky connection to contemplate as properly. The Knicks have 4 former Wildcats on the roster in addition to assistant coach Kenny Payne. This would possible must be a short-term addition. When Robinson returns, there aren’t going to be minutes for him, Noel and Cousins. But within the interim? Cousins makes some sense as a Knick.