On Monday, July 2, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweeted out news that made many NBA fans do a double take.
Cousins will sign a one-year, $5.3M deal with Warriors, league source tells ESPN. https://t.co/LaTLH3oOTB— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 3, 2018
That’s right, DeMarcus Cousins, the four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA team center joined the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. It is yet another in a long list of moves that have NBA fans worried about the state (or lack thereof) of competitive balance in the league.
Cousins is coming off of a crucial torn left Achilles tendon injury, so there is a question of if he can return to his former self. But even if he comes back a quarter of the player he was before, the rest of the league will be hard-pressed to find a way to match the immense amount of talent in Golden State.
Rather than taking a more lucrative offer to stay in New Orleans with superstar and Chicago-native Anthony Davis, Cousins chose to take the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is around $5.3 million. Leaving money on the table does not seem to be a concern to Cousins. He chose to chase a NBA championship while simultaneously setting himself up for a big payday in 2019, should he turn in an All-Star caliber year. But despite all his success, he has a reputation as somewhat of a hot-head and toxic locker room presence, so the most interesting part of this move will be seeing how he fits in with the culture of the Warriors, which is maintained (in part) by head coach Steve Kerr.
The Bulls were out of the free agent market as far as centers were concerned, with recent draftee Wendell Carter Jr. joining a frontcourt rotation that already contains Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio and Robin Lopez. But this move could eventually have a huge effect on the Bulls, as the NBA commissioner Adam Silver has hinted before that the league seems to be heading closer to 1-through-16 playoff seeding and doing away with conferences.
The gap between the East and the West NBA conferences is now larger than ever. And the league had already began experimenting with the All-Star game format to compensate for the talent gap. It is no doubt that as the Warriors (likely) march towards their fourth title in five years, the NBA postseason could look drastically different, and sooner than later.