A former Golden State Warriors center turned NBA journeyman is still on the hunt for redemption, along with an elusive championship ring.
DeMarcus Cousins signed with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on November 28, according to multiple reports. League insider Adrian Wojnarowski, of ESPN, was the first to break details of the deal on Twitter late Sunday morning.
“Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins plans to sign a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, source tells ESPN,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Wojnarowski reported further that Cousins will sign a non-guaranteed contract, the specifics of which had not yet been disclosed as of Sunday evening. The Bucks will be required to guarantee the balance of the deal if Cousins is still a part of the team come January 7, 2022, per NBA rules.
Cousins Golden State Rehab Tour Ended in Disappointment
Cousins played just one season with the Warriors. Though abbreviated, his time in the Bay Area was successful, at least to start.
Golden State was supposed to be the first, and only, stop on Cousins’ rehabilitation tour after tearing his ACL the season prior while playing with Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans — an injury that cost the center what would have likely been an NBA maximum contract. He signed a one-year $5.2 million deal to join the then two-time defending champion Warriors, who were the clear cut favorites to win a third in 2018-19.
The four-time All-Star averaged 16.3 points per game, along with 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists across 30 regular season games for Golden State, per Basketball Reference, starting in every one of those contests. However, Cousins ruptured his left quad just two games into the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cousins rushed back from the devastating injury to appear in the Finals against the Toronto Raptors, a series the Warriors ultimately lost in six games due to injuries to both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Cousins was unable to perform to the standard he’d set during the regular season, a reality he acknowledged seven months later during a February 2020 appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.
“I was terrible in the Finals. One-leg bandit on the floor,” Cousins said. “But I wanted to be a part of it. In the Finals, you play hurt. That’s when you lay your body on the line. I went out there and I gave it what I had. I helped in spots, but I wasn’t supposed to be on the floor.”
Latter Portion of Cousins’ Career Derailed by Injury
Cousins’ career since his time with Golden State has been marred by injury and disappointment.
He missed the entirety of the following year (2019-20) with an ACL injury, his second in three seasons. Last year, during stints with the Houston Rockets and the Clippers that spanned 41 games collectively, Cousins averaged just 8.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes played per night.
His performance, while solid for a bench contributor, was a far cry from who he was before his first knee injury with the Pelicans. For five consecutive seasons between 2013-18, Cousins was a 20-plus points per game and 10-plus rebounds per game player, a mark of excellence among big men achieved by only a handful of the best front court players every season.
But Cousins is only 31 years old in an era of the NBA when players are performing at a high level into their late 30s. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he will have a renaissance season as a meaningful piece to a Bucks team that could contend for a second consecutive title if they remain healthy.
Should things go well in Milwaukee, Cousins’ future could still contain some of the money he lost due to injury and the ring the Warriors’ health issues cost him during his one year in Golden State. More than just about any former NBA star, Cousins is due for a bit of good luck.