Loser: DeMarcus Cousins
Going into the offseason, there was a lot of speculation about what the Denver Nuggets were going to do with DeMarcus Cousins.
On the one hand, he’s an aging big man with a lengthy injury history, and one who’s best days appear to be behind him. On the other hand, he plays a position of need for the Nuggets (backup center), and is coming off a respectable 2021-22 campaign.
One in which he averaged 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game with .456/.324/.736 shooting splits over the course of 31 regular season games. As well as 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game playing in all five of the Denver Nuggets playoff games against the Golden State Warriors.
Simply put, after appearing on multiple 10-day contracts over the last few years, Cousins solidified his role as Denver’s back up center behind Jokic. Providing strong rebounding, solid playmaking but most of all, some much-needed interior physicality.
Sure, he’s got some holes in his game defensively and is nowhere near as mobile as he once was, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a Denver Nugget given the circumstances.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets failed to re-sign him this offseason and now their roster is at its maximum capacity of 15. Which means that Cousins is left without a home (yet again), and worst of all, it’s following a year in which he actually performed well in the role he was given.
Taking into account Denver’s need for a backup center and the organization’s current cap restraints, all signs were pointing towards the team bringing Cousins back on a low-end deal. Particularly since there were a limited number of options on the market and Cousins didn’t exactly appear to be a “hot commodity” in free agency.
Instead, the Denver Nuggets shored up the position with one half of the “Lob City” Clippers in DeAndre Jordan, a player who averaged fewer points and rebounds per game last season. While DeMarcus Cousins is without a team, once again.