Worst Warriors free agent signings No. 12: DeMarcus Cousins, 2018
DeMarcus Cousins had a tumultuous start to his career, putting up massive numbers with the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans but also displaying a lack of emotional maturity on and off the court. When he tore his Achilles in January of 2018 he had not played a single playoff game in his career.
That following summer his market in free agency was virtually nonexistent. The Pelicans replaced him with Julius Randle and other teams weren’t willing to invest highly in a heavy center coming off of an Achilles injury. Out of nowhere, it came out that Cousins had agreed to sign with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors for the taxpayer mid-level exception of just $5.3 million.
Everyone was suddenly ranting about how the Warriors once again had fleeced the league by adding a star free agent to a loaded core. The all-All-Star lineup danced before everyone’s eyes, with Boogie Cousins at center alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. Who could stop that?
Cousins sat out much of the season recovering from his injury, and when he came back he was…fine. His pondering, bully-ball style was a poor fit for the Warriors, and while they force-fed him plenty of touches they were a more wobbly team with him playing a major rotation role.
Then the playoffs hit, and the Warriors lost Cousins to a torn quadriceps in his second game. The Warriors battled through a tough postseason, losing players to injury left and right, but they still rose above and made the NBA Finals.
Cousins returned right when the Warriors needed him in Game 1 of the Finals but didn’t make the impact the Dubs were counting on. He had one good game in Game 2 but otherwise was inefficient and a negative when on the court.
The Warriors had one major bullet in the chamber to use in defending their title, and they used it on a player who was a poor fit in their system, a poor fit in their culture, and coming off of a devastating leg injury. Cousins was the wrong player to sign before the season, and he was the wrong player to try and save their season in the end.