DeMarcus Cousins, a four-time NBA All-Star player, is arguably the most talented free agent remaining on the market.
The 32-year-old was removed five years from his reign as the most dominant position in the league when he ruled the league paint. Sacramento Kings. He has since played in New Orleans, Golden State, Houston, and Los Angeles ClippersMilwaukee and Denver. His talent, even at this juncture, was never in question. But NBA executives keep asking questions about his character and what he brings to the locker room.
In a phone interview with Yahoo Sports from his home in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-10 center sought to provide answers to these questions.
“Did I make mistakes? Sure,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “Did I do things the wrong way? Absolutely. So, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done more things the right way and done more positive things compared to the negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously when it comes to the point that outweighs the Its the negatives the positives, you’d probably get away with it. That’s just how life goes. But I can’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my development as a man and player.”
His cousins said he does exercise every day from basketball training, conditioning, weightlifting, and body maintenance. He does all of that without guaranteeing he’ll ever touch the NBA field again.
But this is his motive.
“I just try to control what I can control,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “This process can be repeated and get to the point where it can drive you kind of crazy, but you just have to fall in love with the process. Every day I train to make sure I’m better than I was the day before. So whenever the opportunity arises and my name is called, I’ll be ready.”
Cousins’ reputation is complicated.
Mostly, most would describe him as reckless and tend to start confrontations and attack coaches and referees. When he plays a full season, he’s often a league leader in technical errors.
He clashed with then-Kings coach George Carl in 2015, which almost resulted in several commercial demands – from both sides. Although Karl only lasted an extra season in Sacramento, Cousins was eventually traded over the All-Star weekend in 2017 to the Pelicans as his time with the Kings soured.
But Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr often praise the cousins’ professionalism.
His cousins talked about how he is perceived, and why he demands latitude and grace in order to change this negative perception.
“I think the misperception of me is that I’m this angry monster who walks around bullying people, beating people up, and cancer in the locker room,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I think it’s all wrong. I played for the coach [John] Calipari, a legendary trainer. I was more than just convincing. Steve Kerr and Coach Malone will attest to that. Obviously you can always go back to my time in Sacramento. I was a little kid. I was still thinking about this business. I was ignorant of a lot of things. I got a lot of things wrong, but I also learned from those mistakes.
“And some of the things that happened were out of my control. The stars didn’t align and things didn’t go the way we planned. But that was seven or eight years ago. I’m an adult and I have a family to support and that’s my goal every day when I wake up is: How can I support my family? ?So, to keep my SAC time over my head, I think this is unfair. I think we should all have a chance to grow and change and really embrace that change. I just want a fair shot.”
At this point in the year with bootcamps already underway, most teams don’t scan the free agent scene to find a squad maker.
The players selected now will likely compete for rotation minutes or be at the end of the bench. For someone with a Cousins résumé and skill set, teams can hesitate to seriously consider the big guy due to the belief that he might have expectations that don’t align with the franchise’s trajectory.
If that was the case, Cousins dispelled that idea.
“I realize I’m not the franchise player I was when I was younger. I’ve accepted that. I understand this business. I understand how this cycle is going. I’m not ignorant of it. So, whatever role is given to me, I will willingly and as often as I do.” I can.” Obviously, being a competitor, I always want to reach for the stars, but I will do what is required of me. And if I’m starting, or if I’m going to get off the bench, or if I have to be at the end of the bench to cheer on the next guy, I’ll do it. Whatever you take – whatever it costs. I’m willing to do whatever is needed to win.”
When the call wrapped for Cousins to get ready to head to the gym, he wanted to say one last thing.
“Everything in the world would mean to me to be back in the NBA,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I know I belong in this league. I feel like I paid my dues and got my terms. I hit some bumps in the road due to injuries and I always came back to be 100% healthy. I worked my tail off to get back to this point. I just want to have the chance to show The work I’ve done and keep giving. I also want a chance to earn a spare too and that’s all I really want. I have a lot in the tank. A lot. I feel like I’m a better player already, just honing all my skills. I only had time in the gym. I’ve improved In all aspects of my game.
“I just want the teams to really know me and don’t believe the narration. I’m a great teammate and great in the locker room. I have a lot of experience in this league. I have a lot of knowledge to give to these guys. I love spreading knowledge. I love being a youth OG. I’ve always been Big Brother character. I don’t think those areas of my game and character are really highlighted. It’s always techniques and stuff like that. And like I said, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. I’m willing to help the team in any way I can.”