Someone has finally taken a chance on Boogie.
The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to terms with DeMarcus Cousins on a 10-day contract earlier this week after the veteran center spent nearly 50 days flapping in the wind on the waiver wire.
Cousins cleared the health and safety protocols in place for any incoming free agent without issue and has now played two games for Tyronn Lue and company. The aging big man has been getting eased in very slowly over the first two games, averaging 5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on 4-for-6 shooting from the field in just 6.5 minutes a night.
The Clippers had been in dire need of some frontcourt depth after offseason addition Serge Ibaka went down with a back injury and subsequently missed the next baker’s dozen of games. Ivica Zubac has been in there as his replacement lately, but he is simply not good enough to go it alone for any extended period of time down the stretch.
The move doesn’t move the needle immensely for the Clippers, who remain third on 888sport’s odds table with +550 odds to win the NBA Championship, sitting behind only the crosstown Lakers at +450 NBA odds and the Brooklyn Nets at +220 NBA odds.
It was, however, a necessary addition for the Clippers, who have had a strapped frontcourt all season long. The play of Paul George and some of the sharpshooting reserves has picked up recently which has allowed the team to have continued success while they played without a sufficient rotation at center.
Now with Cousins in there to supplement the frontcourt, the Clippers can allow Ibaka to take his time returning from his back issue, which is ideal because back problems are nothing to be trifled with when you cross that age 30 plateau (Ibaka is 31).
Cousins doesn’t have the same level of dynamism that he used to because of a litany of brutal injuries that cost him his prime over the past few years, but he was always more of a technical player, and if he gets his rebounding mojo back, we know he’s got a bag full of tricks on the offensive post and has continued to work on his three-ball. Not to mention his above-average playmaking from the five spot.
The Mobile, Alabama native played in 25 games for the Rockets before they released him in mid-February, contributing 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 dimes per game while he was in Texas.
The 30-year-old has several connections within the Clippers organization as well, having played with Rajon Rondo in New Orleans, with George on the 2016 US National Team, and with reserve Patrick Patterson as stars together at Kentucky. George and the rest of the squad seem excited to welcome the four-time NBA All-Star into the fold.
“He’s an All-Star,” George said, according to ESPN. “He’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league. He can finish, he rebounds. I thought you saw a little bit of everything from him [in his debut], and he showed he’s still got a lot left to give.”
Cousins himself wasn’t shy about evaluating the way his oft-injured body has been doing these days either, saying he’s feeling better than ever.
“I’ve put in an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said, according to ESPN. “I feel great, my body feels great. I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career. At this point, it’s about going out there and just putting everything together and just trying to continue to show that I’m healthy and I’m here to play this game at a high level. I understand the situation that I’m in. Whatever opportunity is given to me, I plan on just taking full advantage of it, just controlling what I can control.”
Considering it was only a few years ago that Boogie was considered by many to be the best big man in the NBA—he earned four All-Star nods and two All-NBA Second team selections from 2015-2018—he was more than worth a 10-day flier by the Clippers. If he’s telling the truth about how good he feels, L.A.’s second-class basketball citizens could be a real problem in the playoffs.
“He can really play at a high level still,” George said. “So I’m looking forward to him getting into a groove, him seeing the floor and just being a great teammate for us.”