Kings Free Agency Target Profile: DeMarcus Cousins
Welcome to KHTK’s Kings free agency profiles! Here we’ll be breaking down some of the top players the Kings should target in free agency, analyzing their career numbers, fit with the Kings and potential downsides. We’ll also assign a priority score to each player, signifying how strongly the Kings should consider pursuing a given free agent.
Assessing DeMarcus Cousins as a player in 2019 is vastly different than assessing him as a player just two years ago. An Achilles injury late in the 2017-18 season left the former All-Star a shell of himself upon returning near the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
His stats in 30 games with the Warriors last season reflect the lack of explosiveness and burst from the 7-footer. He put up 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game. Those are all numbers the 28-year-old hadn’t seen since his rookie season.
It’s still apparent that Cousins can contribute based on talent alone, and he showed in spurts during the 2019 NBA Finals that there’s still a chance for him to be a productive player.
Cousins still found ways to be effective coming off a devastating injury, which is perhaps the biggest reason he makes sense for Sacramento.
He’s still a big body who knows how to maneuver in tight windows to draw fouls, pull down rebounds and score at the rim. His three-point shooting is still there, and his passing ability makes him a weapon wherever he touches the ball.
It stands to reason that another offseason to recover and get in shape will help boost his play some next season, and the Kings offer a situation where he can play 25-to-28 minutes per night as a playmaker in Sacramento’s offense. It’ll take a new level of conditioning for him to keep up with the torrid pace the Kings will play at, but his three-point shooting and effectiveness in the half court make him a perfect complement to the Kings’ front court.
This is where things get difficult for Cousins and Sacramento. The baggage is obvious given his time in Sacramento and the team’s election to trade him to New Orleans instead of inking him to a long-term max deal.
Part of what made the Kings so vastly improved last year was their strong chemistry. Cousins’ personality would need to fit in a way that didn’t erode any of what Sacramento built a season ago.
There are also on-court concerns with his health. He badly hurt his quad just four minutes into Golden State’s second playoff game this postseason and was out for more than a month. That’s a massive red flag for a Kings team that’s going to run.
His defense left a lot to be desired last season as well. Teams relentlessly put him in pick-and-roll situations where he was forced to guard a ball handler one-on-one. The effort was undoubtedly there, but it was clear the athleticism he needed to be effective in those spots eluded him. It’s hard to believe that issue wouldn’t persist over an entire season.
Pushing their chips in on Cousins is banking on a lot of things breaking right both on and off the court.
Cousins is the best center on the market if this is the 2017 offseason. Unfortunately the Achilles tear has impacted his game to the point that he gets pushed down the list of free agent centers. Perhaps he returns healthier and stronger in 2019 and the team that signs him gets a premier NBA center who dominates from anywhere on the floor offensively. That’s a significant gamble at this point though, and one the Kings may only make if they get especially desperate in free agency.
A reunion is certainly possible, and it may even be worth it, but Sacramento can’t make Cousins one of their top priorities given the rest of the market.
Priority score: 2/10