Warriors ready to Boogie with DeMarcus Cousins

Warriors ready to Boogie with DeMarcus Cousins

SACRAMENTO -- The signing of Kevin Durant two summers ago was a mild surprise. The signing of JaVale McGee two months after Durant was more of a surprise. The signing of Nick Young last summer was a puzzler.

The Warriors on Monday exponentially outdid all three of those moves combined.

They reached an agreement with free-agent center DeMarcus Cousins.

Boogie Cousins, formerly of the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, the All-Star that has appeared in zero playoff games in an eight-year career, is partnering with the back-to-back NBA champions.

This pushes LeBron James and the manic agitation involving the Lakers completely off the front page.

Boogie to the Warriors makes sense on so many levels.

It makes zero sense on least as many levels.

The news, first reported by Yahoo Sports, sent shock waves through the NBA. Cousins, who averaged about $15 million in salary over the past three seasons, was thought to be seeking a contract worth much more than the $5.34 million taxpayer mid-level exception available to the Warriors. Most speculation had him headed to the Lakers, where he would join LeBron James in reviving that franchise. Cousins is recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture that could sideline him for the first several months of the regular season.

Cousins typically plays with measured deliberation, mostly in first and second gear, a style of play unlikely to change in the wake of such a serious injury. He’s a throwback center, a fading breed, walking over to a team that much prefers to run.

They are the Warriors and they have cultivated an image of welcoming wholesomeness around the firebrand ways of Draymond Green.

And he is Boogie, as emotionally volatile as any player in the NBA, a man whose fits of belligerence have gone so far as to land upon members of the media.

This move is, for the Warriors, like inviting a bear into the mansion.

But, maybe, this bear is ready to behave. Perhaps the most offensively talented, defensively challenged center in the league, maybe Cousins, who turns 28 in August, sees this is an opportunity to rehabilitate an image that, with his assistance, has been grotesquely distorted.

Cousins couldn’t get within 80 miles of the Warriors unless CEO Joe Lacob was ready to add to his collection of talent, president/general manager Bob Myers was willing bet on his judgment and coach Steve Kerr had appropriate trust in his staff and culture.

Moreover, Cousins wouldn’t be coming to the Warriors unless the All-Stars were rolling out a welcome mat. Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were Team USA teammates with Cousins in the 2016 Olympics. Durant on Saturday night agreed to a money-saving deal that fairly prodded the Warriors to spend their midlevel exception. Stephen Curry, the leader and moderating centerpiece of the Warriors, tweeted his approval within an hour of the news.

The Warriors needed a veteran center and no one on the market brings more gifts than Cousins. He can get a bucket on the block, shoot the three and whistle a pass through a donut without leaving a crumb.

The Warriors under Lacob always have been willing to bet, first on their grand aspirations and now on their healthy, cutting-edge environment. This, though, is their riskiest move yet, a one-year experiment on a player whose past has more red flags than a dead con man’s rap sheet.

If it works, the Warriors have five All-Stars, blast through the 60-win barrier and approach 70. They match if not exceed their 16-1 postseason of 2017. Boogie sails through image rehab and gets a ring.

If it doesn’t work, no one will have to look too far to see why.

Pelicans GM Dell Demps weighs in on DeMarcus Cousins joining Warriors

Pelicans GM Dell Demps weighs in on DeMarcus Cousins joining Warriors

It was 17 months ago when DeMarcus Cousins was traded from Sacramento to New Orleans, the newest member of the Pelicans, bringing unquestioned basketball gifts but burdened by an image that weighed about three tons.

That load is considerably lighter now. The Pelicans were good for Cousins and he was, according to New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, good for them.

“We were having success, and things are good when you’re winning games,” Demps said Wednesday on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “A lot of times, when you’re losing games things become magnified. There’s fuel on the fire.

“I don’t know what happened in Sacramento . . . but I know his time with us, we had success with him. It was a good run.”

Yet when Cousins became a free agent in July, discussions with the Pelicans didn’t advance past the conversation stage. So the 6-foot-11 center reached out to the Warriors and ended up leaving New Orleans.

“I understand,” Cousins, looking back on his time with the Pelicans, said in a Showtime video clip released Wednesday. “They had a big year. They don’t want to ruin it taking a chance on me. I’m a damaged player. Cool.”

In Sacramento for the better part of seven productive years that were by turns trying and turbulent, Cousins’ first full season in New Orleans was arguably the best of his career. He was averaging 25.2 points on 47-percent shooting (35.4 percent from deep), a career-high 12.9 rebounds and a career-high 5.4 assists when he sustained a torn left Achilles’ tendon on Jan 26.

That injury cost Cousins his first appearance in the postseason.

The injury, which can take up to a year to fully heal, occurred in the final seconds of a 115-113 victory over the Rockets that was the seventh win in eight games for New Orleans. Cousins had posted a triple-double: 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

“When he was injured, we were fourth in the West,” Demps said. “It was a sad day. There was a cloud over the city, for a little while.

“But we wish (Cousins) nothing but the best. He’s a good guy, he’s a tough guy, he’s going to compete and he’s an incredible basketball player.

Demps cited Cousins’ relationship with Pelicans star Anthony Davis as being a factor in easing Cousins’ transition to New Orleans. Though Cousins still played with plenty of emotion last season, he averaged one technical foul every 4.8 games, the lowest ratio since 2011-12, his second season with the Kings.

His popularity increased to a level that he received a standing ovation when shown on the scoreboard during Game 3 of the first-round series between the Pelicans and Trail Blazers. That was followed by chants of “Boogie, Boogie, Boogie.”

The Warriors hope that showing can be repeated sometime next season. Cousins likely will miss much of the early season, but hopes to return, healthy and active, before the next calendar year.

As for the concerns about Cousins adversely impacting the Warriors fast-paced style of play -- he’s known to do his best work in the half court -- Demps offered a bit of a rebuttal.

“We played with pace, with DeMarcus,” he said. “When he went out, I think we were sixth in pace. He’ll be fine. Talent has a way of just figuring it out.”

For the record, the Pelicans were indeed sixth in pace. They did, however, speed it up to another level after Cousins went down. They finished No. 1.

DeMarcus Cousins unfazed over potential backlash from joining Warriors

DeMarcus Cousins unfazed over potential backlash from joining Warriors

Do you want to know what the NBA free agency process was like for DeMarcus Cousins?

If yes, you're in luck.

SHOWTIME Sports is in production on a documentary that gives you an inside look at how Cousins ended up signing with the Warriors.

On Wednesday, a preview clip was released (watch the full video below).

"This is my ace of spade, this was my nuclear bomb, my last resort," Cousins said. "Yeah, I could have probably got a contract -- a decent contract -- from a bad team. But how does that help me?

"I'm already fighting a career-ending injury. I'm not gonna put myself in an already-bad situation and try to prove my value or my worth as a player in a situation that's not looking to win.

"I knew how it would be perceived by some. I didn't give a f**k. ... I knew what my ace was, and we made the call."

Cousins' introductory press conference is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. Watch it live on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller