The Clippers’ center depth has been weak all year, but it’s really stood out in recent weeks as Serge Ibaka has been shelved due to back issues. Even with Ibaka out, Mfiondu Kabengele gone, and Patrick Patterson looking old and undersized, 2020 second-round pick Daniel Oturu has still not been able to see the court outside of garbage time. With two roster spots open, it was obvious one of them would be used on a center. And now, we have an answer, as Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) and Shams Charania (Athletic) have reported that the Clippers will sign veteran center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10 day contract.
Cousins, 30, is a six-time All Star, and is very familiar to Clippers fans considering he played the first part of his career in the Pacific Division with the Sacramento Kings. For those who have not seen much of Cousins lately, he little resembles the terror of a half decade ago. While not that old, Cousins has suffered numerous leg and foot issues which have sapped all of his athleticism and explosiveness. He shot an absurdly poor 42.6% on two pointers as a Rocket in the early part of this season, showing his lack of efficiency as a finisher. His defense, never a strong suit, is now a real weakness, as the lateral quickness on the perimeter is no longer there.
Where Cousins can help, however, is as a big body around the rim, as a rebounder, and as a spot-up shooter. While he’s not as good a shooter as Patterson, he can replicate some of that floor spacing while providing more rim protecting and rebounding. He also obviously has much more veteran know-how than Oturu, and should easily slot ahead of the youngster (and maybe Pat Pat depending on situation) in the rotation.
There aren’t too many real drawbacks with this signing. The first is that with big names who are washed up, there’s always the potential of their expectations outsizing their abilities. Hopefully the Clippers don’t post up Cousins too much, or give him too many responsibilities. Second, while he was considered a good teammate on the Warriors, there were issues dogging his presence in the locker room throughout his time in Sacramento – hopefully those don’t flair up again. Finally, much like with Rondo, there are some less than savory off-the-court matters that haven’t resulted in legal action, but are not pleasant to consider.
All in all, as a third center and a stopgap until Ibaka returns, DeMarcus Cousins isn’t an awful signing for the Clippers. He probably won’t help the Clippers win, but he might still be better than Patterson, and certainly than Oturu. As this is just a 10 day contract, it’s also possible he is a temporary option until further buyouts occur. The deal isn’t official yet, but probably will be in the coming days, so it’s possible Cousins could play early next week.