NBA insider expects DeMarcus Cousins to return to Warriors next season

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins might not be a one-and-done with the Golden State Warriors, after all. That’s at least the opinion of one insider.

Marc Stein of The New York Times predicted that big name free agents like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant would remain with their current teams.

He also cited an insider who predicted that Cousins will return to Golden State.

Allow me to also pass on one of the wildest predictions I’ve heard lately, from one wise insider, who thinks even DeMarcus Cousins will consider re-upping with the Warriors for one more season despite the (comparatively) minuscule raise they can offer on Cousins’ current $5.3 million salary.”

This is an unusual prediction.

Ever since he signed with the Warriors, the general feeling has been that Cousins would only be in Golden State for one year. Coach Steve Kerr has even said as much, saying that the Warriors can’t afford him.

But even with that understood, it may not be that wild.

The fact remains that we haven’t seen Cousins play in nearly a full year. We have no idea how well he’ll mesh with the Warriors. His return is still a ways out. That’s not going to leave Cousins a lot of time to show that he’s recovered, which could potentially hurt his market value. So if he can’t log significant time and bolster his free agent value, staying put actually makes sense.

It would then turn into a long game, waiting for a big signing after the 2019-20 season. Playing a key role for a championship team would make someone more valuable. Golden State will almost certainly be on a short list of title favorites again next year.

Obviously, this possibility gets harder to imagine if Cousins returns strong and helps the Warriors win another title this year. If there’s little doubt that he can still play at a high level, it will get harder for Golden State to retain him, especially if Thompson and Durant are also both returning.

There’s a lot that remains to be seen. But while this idea doesn’t feel likely, it also doesn’t feel completely improbable.