It’s unknown if current Los Angeles Clipper DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is familiar with the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, but either way, it’s likely the big man has been quietly repeating the song’s chorus for at least the last week or so.
“Put me in coach — I’m ready to play…today!”
Cousins was signed to a 10-day contract by L.A. on April 5, and while many sung the move’s praises and hoped it would jumpstart the career of a player who, only a few years ago, was considered the top big man in the league, Boogie has spent a lot more time cheering from the Clippers’ bench than on the floor.
In six possible games, Cousins has played in only three. And when he has played, it’s been sparingly, averaging a measly 9.6 minutes, much of it in garbage time. Not a great sign for a guy whose contract duration is measured in days, not years.
Boogie did log 15 primetime minutes in L.A.’s thrilling comeback victory Wednesday night over the Detroit Pistons, and though he played fairly well (eight points on 3-for-9 shooting and three rebounds) the increased exposure could’ve easily been the result of the Clipperss missing all five of their starters. Basically, Cousins had to play.
So it was somewhat surprising when, after the Detroit game, head coach Ty Lue indicated that Cousins will likely be kept onboard through a second 10-day contract.
Lue Says Quiet Part Out Loud
Lue tipped his hand about Cousins in response to a somewhat loaded question by The Athletic’s Law Murray, asking if Lue was “looking forward to [Cousins] continuing on with this roster.”
“Yeah we’re looking forward for him to continue on,” Lue said. “He was big for us. The toughest thing is, when he’s in the game it’s hard to run plays because he really hasn’t caught up yet as far as the plays, because we haven’t had a lot of practice time. That kind of stumped us a little bit. But his play, just knowing the game, his IQ, being able to shoot it, to post up, and bring physicality to the team. We’ve just got to get him up to speed on the playbook so we can call more sets when he’s in the game.”
Given that Cousins’ contract was set to expire the next day (Thursday, an off day for the Clippers), it’s conceivable that Lue was simply signaling to management his opinion on the matter. But most likely the head coach already plays an active role in the team’s personnel decisions and was instead signaling to Cousins that he need not pack his bags.
Lue’s response also gives a plausible explanation for Boogie’s considerable time on the bench, something that could change in a second contract as Cousins becomes more familiar with L.A.’s plays. Certainly, with Serge Ibaka still out with back spasms and no timetable for his return, plus the relative inexperience of Ivica Zubac, the Clippers would benefit from Cousins’ versatility and bulk down on the blocks. Especially if he resembles, even slightly, the player he once was before three major injuries derailed his career.
Over his first eight seasons in the league, mostly with Sacramento plus a year and change with New Orleans, Cousins averaged 21.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks. He was an All-Star selection four of those years and All-NBA twice. Furthermore, his three-point shooting, which was basically nonexistent his first four seasons, had become a legitimate weapon for Cousins. In the three seasons from 2015-16 to 2017-18, Cousins shot 35.2% from behind the arc on 4.7 attempts per game.
But Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon in January of 2018 with New Orleans, followed by a left quad tear with Golden State in 2019 and culminating with a torn ACL in the 2019 offseason soon after being traded to the Lakers. (Cousins never played a game with the Lakers.) Not nearly the force he had been, Cousins landed in Houston to start this season but lasted only 25 games before being cut. (Long enough though to sound off on then-teammate James Harden, who was in the process of tanking his way into a trade to Brooklyn.)
Yogi Could be Joining Soon
Assuming the 30-year-old Cousins does stick around, the Clippers roster might still see some changes in the very near future. On April 11, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted “Guard Yogi Ferrell plans to sign a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers later next week upon clearing health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.”
Following Charania’s tweet, conventional wisdom suggested Cousins would be the one to go to make room for Ferrell. But in light of Lue’s recent comments, the most likely candidate to lose a spot to Ferrell would be G League forward Malik Fitts, who signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers on April 9, but has played less than four combined minutes in four possible games. (Fitts was a DNP Wednesday against Detroit.)
If and when the Clippers sign Ferrell, it would be to help out at point in the wake of losing Patrick Beverley for at least a month to a broken hand suffered last week against Phoenix. Over four seasons, the 6-foot Ferrell, who was cut by Cleveland in January after only two games, is averaging 7.8 points on 42.2% shooting from the field and 2.3 assists. The high point in Ferrell’s career came with Dallas in 2017-18 when the Indiana University product averaged 10.2 points and played in all 82 games.