DeMarcus Cousins could have to settle for minimum contract

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

How the mighty have fallen. It was just 18 months ago that former All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins was looking at north of $200 million in free agency.

We already know what has transpired since. Cousins suffered a torn Achilles as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans back in 2017-18, mere months before he was set to hit free agency.

One of the game’s most-skilled bigs had to settle for a one-year deal with the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors at under $6 million.

Cousins’ season with Golden State did not start until January, at which point the four-time All-Star didn’t seem to be 100 percent.

Now, with free agency ongoing, reports have surfaced that there’s no market for Cousins’ services. Fox Sports NBA insider Chris Broussard is going as far to say that Cousins might have to settle for a veteran minimum contract in free agency.

“One of the biggest names still out there who hasn’t signed is DeMarcus Cousins. Adrian Wojnarowski reported there is no market for him and I’ve heard other people tell me that there is really nowhere else for him to go,” Broussard noted. “He’s a 21 and 11 guy for his career and is going to sign AT-BEST the mid-level exception and maybe even a veteran’s minimum.”

Cousins’ situation is complicated in that the Warriors can’t even offer him a 125 percent pay raise from his $5.34 million salary last season. They are capped out after completing a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell and signing Klay Thompson to a max deal.

With the market as bare as it’s been for the center, most figured a return to Golden State made the most sense. He could be a top-scoring option with Russell and Stephen Curry given that Kevin Durant departed and Klay Thompson (ACL) is out through at least January.

Unfortunately for Cousins, Golden State signed Willie Cauley-Stein and re-signed Kevon Looney in free agency. There doesn’t seem to be any room for Cousins in San Francisco.

Cousins, who just recently fired his longtime agent, had been hoping that big-market teams who missed out on top-end free agents would offer him a shorter-term deal with a larger average annual salary. That’s no longer going to be the case.

It’s certainly been a dramatic fall from grace for a player that was a dominating figure less than two calendar years ago.