When DeMarcus Cousins stunned the NBA world by agreeing to sign with the Golden State Warriors, they were quickly coronated 2019 champions.
Cousins wasn’t yet near a return to the court as he was still recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, but an eventual lineup that also included Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, was viewed as an overwhelming collection of talent.
Being part of a championship run was expected in re-establish Cousins’ value and set him up to sign a lucrative contract in 2019 NBA Free Agency. Of course, those best-laid plans ultimately went by the wayside.
Cousins tore his quad during the playoffs and struggled upon returning in the NBA Finals. There was tepid interest once free agency began, and the 28-year-old signed another one-year contract, this time with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In doing so, Cousins reunited with Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo. The three played together for the New Orleans Pelicans, and Davis voiced his disappointment when their time as teammates came to an end last summer.
It was those prior relationships that helped steer Cousins to the Lakers. “Obviously, I had two guys that I played with previously in my ear a lot; Rajon and A.D,” Cousins said in his first interview since signing.
“They really put the pressure on me to make a decision to come here and team up again. Me and [Davis] talked about it numerous times, being teammates again. We never wanted it to end but everything kind of happens for a reason.”
Rondo and Davis’ efforts were accompanied by LeBron James also doing his own recruiting of sorts. “They kind of cleared the air for me and helped me gain some understanding. The coaching staff and management also put things at ease for me,” Cousins explained.
“After that, it was kind of an easy decision. Everybody’s message was the same. We’re all here this season to compete for a championship. I think we can all agree on that. That being said, it was an easy decision.”
Beginning with Magic Johnson’s abrupt resignation in April and continuing with a coaching search that took on several twists, the Lakers endured months of public criticism. Though, that wasn’t the basis of questions Cousins had for Davis, James and Rondo.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was concerns, it was more uncertainty,” he said. “Obviously, this is a situation I’ve never been in, didn’t know or have relationships with a lot of people here. It was just that gray area of not knowing.
“I asked a lot of questions, looked for understanding with those questions, and once I kind of gained that I was able to move forward and make a decision.”
When healthy, the six-time All-Star is considered one of the top centers in the league. But having endured two serious injuries in the past year, there is doubt whether Cousins can reach his previous level of play.
“It kind of feels normal to me. I kind feel like I’ve been trying to show and prove myself my entire career,” he said. “I feel I do better under pressure. When the odds are against me, I feel like the best in me comes out.”
The Lakers will be counting on Cousins to bounce back as they look to do so themselves after a disappointing first season with James.