The Boston Celtics are short at the center position following the departure of Daniel Theis as part of the trade package that landed Malcolm Brogdon.
Right now, the Celtics can call upon Robert Williams, Al Horford, Grant Williams, and Luke Kornet to play minutes at the five-spot. But due to Ime Udoka’s “two big” line-up, and Grant Williams’ limited height, it’s clear that Luke Kornet is currently the Celtics’ primary backup big man.
As such, CelticsBlog’s Keith Smith has postulated the idea of Boston pursuing DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, as a way to resolve their big-man shortcomings heading into the regular season.
“Cousins showed he’s got enough left when he backed up Nikola Jokic last season. He’s got a prickly attitude, but the hope would be the Celtics could keep him focused. Cousins’ shooting and passing are a nice fit in the frontcourt,” Smith wrote when listing potential free agent targets for the Celtics.
The former All-Star has become somewhat of a journeyman in recent years, playing for four teams in the last two years, including the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, after missing the entire 2019-20 season due to an ACL injury.
What Would Cousins Bring to Boston?
At six-foot-ten, Cousins brings legitimate size to the Celtics rotation along with an abrasive attitude to fit into the no-nonsense brand of basketball Udoka is trying to instill into his team.
The Alabama native is also capable of knocking down some outside shots, averaging 33.1% of his looks throughout his career. Still, Cousins’ best attribute is his ability to command the glass – on both sides of the floor. Throughout his career ‘Boogie’ has averaged 7.6 defensive rebounds per game and 2.6 offensive boards per game, those types of rebounding numbers could seriously help a Celtics team that got exploited at times throughout the playoffs.
Of course, Cousins’ defense does raise somewhat of a red flag, as his mobility isn’t what it once was, and he’s unlikely to be effective when stepping outside of the restricted area. Still, if Udoka and the coaching staff can find a way to include Cousins into their defensive scheme, he could be a solid veteran option off the bench, and would be a capable starter should either Williams or Horford miss time due to injury or load-management.
Celtics Sign Luke Kornet to New Deal
While it’s clear that Boston needs to improve their bench rotation of big men, Brad Stevens and the coaching staff clearly felt that Kornet had something to offer the rotation, and chose to extend his stay in Boston.
Kornet is a true seven-foot-two big, who is a talented rim protector, especially when guarding pick-and-rolls in drop coverage. Last season, the floor-stretching big man averaged 2.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 57.1% from the field, during his 12 regular-season games.
So, now the question becomes ‘how comfortable is Boston heading into the new season with Kornet as their primary backup center?’ Odds are, they’re going to want one additional body within that rotation, and preferably one that can impact the game when given the minutes.
Of course, Kornet will get his chance to fight for a rotation spot, but if a player of Cousins’ ability and stature is a viable option, Boston should at least explore the avenue before making a decision.