JASON MARTIN (JULY 3, 2018)
The Interwebs exploded last night when, after the Los Angeles Lakers decided to find virtually every off-kilter malcontent available on the free agent market, the Golden State Warriors found a way to sign an All-Star caliber big man who can also shoot it from the outside.
DeMarcus Cousins, who has dealt with character and attitude questions since the infancy of his days in Lexington (which in totality were quite short), continues to battle against the same concerns today. Add in the prospect of returning from a debilitating injury few are ever the same after sustaining in the NBA, and there are definite risks in a big money deal for him.
Except if you happen to play for or make decisions for the reigning NBA Champions.
One year, 5.3 million dollars, which means just about any team in the league could have conceivably gotten this guy, but according to reports and even Cousins’ own comments to Marc Spears, the market wasn’t chomping at the bit to acquire the 27-year old. And while the eye rolls were plentiful across social media and sports bars last night, a magnitude of the unknown surrounds what exactly Cousins can offer coming back from the injury. It certainly made many franchises and general managers gun shy, but again, if you’re the Warriors, this is a no brainer.
Some variation of “The NBA is broken” permeated every corner of elite or amateur gasbaggery last night and today but ask yourself whether or not it’s MORE broken today than it was 24 hours ago, or one month ago, or one year ago. The fact remains that the Association as we know it today, if you’re against the idea of the Super Team, was destroyed the moment Kevin Durant chose to leave Oklahoma City and join a 73-win team he couldn’t beat when he had them down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals alongside another MVP candidate in Russell Westbrook.
The Warriors were already Thanos, and it’s possible those memes that popped up last night of a completed Infinity Gauntlet were just as appropriate before Cousins agreed to the meager contract offer. Sure, if DeMarcus is right, that’s just filthy, but wasn’t it pretty disgusting already? In fact, wasn’t it already overpoweringly disgusting?
Without Steph Curry feeling or looking like himself throughout a good bit of the postseason, the Warriors still got the job done. You can argue that Chris Paul’s injury explains why Houston didn’t beat them, but I’m not placing a cent on that considering James Harden’s penchant for becoming Harry Houdini and disappearing when the stakes are at their highest. This Warriors team didn’t have the deepest bench, was missing one of its key defenders and an on-court leader in Andre Iguodala, didn’t have home court advantage, and still got to the Finals, where Golden State swept The King.
Yes, it was thanks to J.R. Smith, but whether it was five games, six games, or the swift broom we all witnessed, it was inevitable. Nobody beats this team when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Back to Cousins, he now has the luxury very few top-flight athletes do when moving teams in a glitzy opinionated cavalcade of “Holy crap, this dude too?” He doesn’t have to come back until he’s absolutely ready. DeMarcus Cousins can sit through the first half of the season and no one will so much as raise an eyebrow about it, because his team doesn’t even need him on the floor to win a Championship.
If he pulls a Kobe Bryant and does return to form after a serious Achilles injury, he’ll make this third consecutive ring for Kerr’s crew that much easier. His stats are undeniable, even when he was in the abyss of Sacramento. For his career, Cousins has averaged 21.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. At 6-11, he shoots over 33 percent from three and nearly 75 percent from the free throw line. Can he switch out and play perimeter defense in this increasingly guard-oriented NBA? That’s yet to be determined. But he’s a dominant force.
Because, just based on the numbers, and even more so when applying the eye test, he’s really good if he’s healthy and he’s happy.
Will he be the right fit for the Warriors? You can read any number of accounts in favor or against the idea, but the bigger truth is that, in the words of one Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it doesn’t matter. The Warriors were going to win it all again without him. Add him in, even if he doesn’t play until the Conference Semifinals, it’s just more riches added to an overflowing treasure chest.
It doesn’t break the NBA. If you think it does, you need to remember it was already broken. Even if Houston had somehow won that series, that’s just ONE more team that had a chance to win a Championship out of 32.
Cousins might make them unstoppable, but only if you believe they weren’t already.
As long as they’re engaged and not half-asleep, ain’t nobody beating them.