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Why The DeMarcus Cousins Signing Doesn’t Matter; And Why He Made The Best Decision Possible

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DeMarcus Cousins sent shockwaves around the NBA when he signed with the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. The Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins, who is coming off a season-ending achilles injury in 2017-2018, for the mid-level exception: 1 year, $5.3 million.

I haven’t been this shocked by an NBA free agent signing since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors in 2016. When this news first broke, I was unhappy, and just thought about unfair this upcoming NBA season would be. About an hour later, when I had fully processed what had just happened, I dug deeper into the DeMarcus Cousins signing and decided that it’s not too big of a deal. In fact, this signing doesn’t matter. It’s being blown out of proportion. Let me explain:

Why It Doesn’t Matter:

A torn achilles is one of the worst possible injuries (if not the worst) that an NBA player can sustain. Very few players have ever come back the same from a torn achilles. We’ve seen it happen to some really good players, and all of them have struggled following the injury. We have seen Brandon Jennings go from being a great young talent to borderline out of the league following an achilles tear. We saw Kobe Bryant’s career essentially end following a torn achilles as he was averaging 27 PPG and then played only 107 games in the following three seasons combined with a significant drop in PPG. In basketball, your quickness and leaping abilities are obviously crucial, and in most cases, you don’t return from an achilles tear with the same athletic talent.

My point from this is that DeMarcus Cousins isn’t going to be a huge factor for the Warriors this season. Everyone’s acting like DeMarcus Cousins is just going to step right in there on opening night and drop 25 points and grab 12 boards. That’s not going to happen.

DeMarcus Cousins isn’t going to return until January or February at the earliest. In addition, once he’s back at that time, he’s going to be on a recovery schedule. He’s going to be playing limited minutes off the bench. He’s probably not going to play in back to backs. By the time the playoffs start, are the Warriors even going to want to integrate him into their starting lineup?

Inserting DeMarcus Cousins into this starting lineup in April is something that could ruin chemistry. Cousins is a player who needs the ball down low. He’s not going to pass four times before shooting a three. He’s also not as quick as the rest of the Warriors. This is something that could work if given the time, but the reality is, there’s probably not going to be time. The playoffs will start, and Steve Kerr isn’t going to put him into the starting lineup. Instead, Cousins will get minutes off the bench and be a spark if healthy.

Everyone seems to think that DeMarcus Cousins is going to be the piece that brings the Warriors from one place to another. The truth is that they’re already at the top! There’s no higher place to go. In fact, the Warriors were already most likely going to win again anyway. We know that the Warriors can win a title without Cousins because they did it already. This doesn’t change much. If the Warriors were going to beat the Rockets in 7, maybe they’ll beat them in 6 now. This is if Cousins is healthy. Right now, he’s not.

The idea of a fully healthy DeMarcus Cousins with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green is certainly scary, but wake up from your fantasy everyone. Again, DeMarcus Cousins isn’t going to be fully healthy.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m rooting against DeMarcus Cousins. I wish him the best with his recovery, and hope he plays extremely well so he can get a lot of that money he lost this summer during free agency next summer. I’m just talking about what expectations should be right now.

Moreover, remember that DeMarcus Cousins is a player that isn’t necessarily going to be a locker room gem. Fighting between teammates is the last thing you need as a championship team, let alone a team in general. This was a reason why some teams shied away from Cousins this offseason.

Why This Is The Best Decision Possible For DeMarcus Cousins:

Put yourself in the shoes of DeMarcus Cousins. If he didn’t get injured, he could have been looking at $200 million this offseason. Instead, he’s looking at a one year deal for $5 million. It’s extremely unfortunate. If you know that you’re going to get a one year deal with a chance to prove to everyone that you can return to the same or close to the same player you were pre-injury, what would you want? Here’s my wish-list of what I would want in a team if I were in DeMarcus Cousins’ situation:

  • A team that offers you an opportunity to take your time with recovery
  • A team that won’t put pressure on you to produce right away following your return
  • A team that offers you more than most other teams, if not all other teams
  • A team that will play the most games from February to June, giving you the most time to showcase your skills post injury

The Golden State Warriors fit this list perfectly. First, DeMarcus Cousins can wait until whenever he wants to return. The Warriors winning isn’t contingent on DeMarcus Cousins. We all know that they can win the title without him.

Second, Cousins will likely also be the fourth or fifth option when he comes back, so he won’t be overworked. Third, guess how many offers DeMarcus Cousins had prior to the one from the Warriors? Zero. DeMarcus Cousins had no offers before the one from Golden State.

Let’s not sit here and act like DeMarcus Cousins left a significant amount of money on the table to ring chase for one year with the Warriors. That’s just not what happened. DeMarcus Cousins has no other offers. This is absolutely mind boggling, but why would NBA teams offer a ton of money to a guy who isn’t going to come back until January or February at the earliest, and is also coming off the worst injury you can sustain in the sport. Teams just aren’t going to do that. Even if he had more offers, they wouldn’t have been more than $5 million. This was the most he was going to get, as crazy as that sounds.

Fourth, and the most important bullet point is the fourth, the Warriors are going to be playing into June. Why would you sign with a team like the Wizards, Trail Blazers or Lakers when you know that you’re going to need as much time as you can get to show what you got going into free agency. You don’t want to only play from February to April or early May. You want these extra 10+ games to show other teams what you can do. I truly believe that was a massive factor in DeMarcus Cousins’ decision. I’m sure a chance to win a title doesn’t hurt as well.

I’ll go as far as to say that DeMarcus Cousins made a genius move for himself by signing with the Warriors. When you’re coming off an injury that significant, you have to do what’s best for yourself. DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t care less what NBA fans say about him on Twitter. He’s doing what he can to lock up as much money as he can in 2019. Let’s not sit here and act like DeMarcus Cousins did this because he’s a sellout. He did it because that’s what’s best for him.

Final Takeaway:

I wrote this article because I want to calm down the DeMarcus Cousins Warriors expectations. Yes, DeMarcus Cousins is an all-star. Yes, DeMarcus Cousins is an All-NBA player. Yes, DeMarcus Cousins is also coming off of a massive injury that will keep him sidelined until January or February, and limited the whole year. Lower your expectations for Cousins, and keep your title expectations the same for the Golden State Warriors.

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