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The many losers and few winners of DeMarcus Cousins to the Warriors

If you didn’t think this was fair, you were right.

Getty Images/SB Nation illustration

In a move that stunned basketball fans, reporters, and players far more than any other this summer, all-star big man DeMarcus Cousins opted to join the repeat NBA champion Golden State Warriors Monday night.

Cousins makes the Warriors so good, it’s laughable. He’ll become the fifth all-star on Golden State’s roster, with a starting lineup that at some point will feature Boogie, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry. You’ll be hard-pressed to find five other players in the NBA that can take that team in a 5-on-5 game of pickup.

The Boogie signing sent shockwaves across the other 29 NBA teams. The majority of teams may as well concede defeat before the regular-season opener. And even the others that thought they had a puncher’s chance against the Warriors just got rocked with a pre- pre-season haymaker.

Boogie may still be recovering from the torn Achilles that ended his season early, but his presence on this championship Warriors team creates so many losers and only a handful of clear-cut winners:

Loser: New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans probably let Boogie walk because they played better last season without him. And sure, in many respects, adding Nikola Mirotic to the starting lineup when Cousins tore his Achilles midseason did, in fact, make the Pelicans better by spacing the floor and opening the lane for Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to go to work.

But New Orleans opened the door for one of the best players in the league to go to the best team in the league. The Pelicans will inevitably have to face the Warriors in the playoffs again sooner or later, and when they do, they can only blame themselves for not making an offer on the star center. (Though, that report is now being disputed.)

Winner: The Warriors

These guys actually have an NBA All-Star Game starting five. Let’s just fast forward to summer 2019 already, copy?

Loser: Conferences

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was already entertaining the thought of doing away with the Eastern and Western Conferences to open up a tournament-style playoff bracket featuring the NBA’s top 16 teams. Now Boogie’s on the Warriors? Press fast forward, commish, please. I beg of you.

Loser: Parity

Yup, the majority of the NBA’s talent is spread across very few teams, namely the Warriors, Celtics, Rockets, LeBron James, Timberwolves, Thunder, Sixers, and Raptors. A hard salary cap that teams can’t exceed under any circumstances is no fun whatsoever. So unless there’s an NBA re-draft — ooooooooh, what about a re-draft? — it doesn’t look like there’s much anyone can do about it.

Winner: DeMarcus Cousins

Let’s get serious for a quick second. Boogie had no (ZERO) offers on the table as a free agent this summer. Are you kidding me? (Again, later reports indicate at least one offer.)

Yes, a torn Achilles is the worst possible injury an NBA player can suffer, and only Dominique Wilkins has returned from one at close to his peak form. But Cousins is a player you take a chance on. Even if you don’t throw the max at him, you throw SOMETHING. A few teams had cap space to sign him, others could have figured out sign-and-trades, but not one made an offer. Cousins reportedly had to call Warriors GM Bob Myers as a result.

You know what? Good for him. Good for Cousins. Go get your ring. The Warriors don’t actually need you right now, so take your sweet time and rehab your Achilles until you’re 128 percent healthy. Then return midseason, probably off the bench, and remind the world how dominant you are. Secure a championship ring, then leave the Warriors next season and secure your max contract bag.

As Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith would say, “You win, big fella! You win!”

Loser: Houston Rockets

Oof. The Rockets were a Chris Paul hamstring injury away from probably beating the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. But Paul hurt his hamstring, and Golden State came back to win the series before sweeping the Cavaliers in the Finals.

The Rockets’ game plan this summer has been to bring the gang back, and for the most part — with the exception of Trevor Ariza to Phoenix, and so long as they re-sign Clint Capela — it looks like that’ll happen. But how do you compete when the Warriors sign DEMARCUS COUSINS??

(Hint: You don’t.)

Winner: Warriors jersey sales

I mean, seriously. Can’t you see yourself rocking a Boogie jersey just like this one?

Loser: LeBron James

If ‘Bron thought he was competing with the Warriors this season, that thought just went out the window. Just sip your red wine, hit the hyperbolic time chamber and fast forward to 2019 when your team gets Kawhi Leonard in free agency and maybe gets lucky enough to pry Klay Thompson away from the Warriors. (I lied, Klay’s going to Brooklyn.)

Loser: The NBA

Fans were already starting to lose interest when the Warriors signed Kevin Durant in free agency. Now they’ve got Boogie, too?! Those blowout wins are gonna get real old, real quick.

Winner: The NBA

But the league always makes more money when there are dominant teams.

Loser: The other 29 teams in the league


Loser, again: New Orleans Pelicans

So you expect to keep Anthony Davis down the road when his good friend and uber-talented big man just went to the best team in the league? And you expect to keep Anthony Davis when the Pelicans will have to go through that team to make it to the NBA Finals? AND Rajon Rondo left NOLA for LA?

Good luck keeping AD.

Winner: Boston Celtics and anyone else in the AD sweepstakes

There’s only one team that can take the Warriors with Cousins down, and that team is going to need the help of a superhuman big man — like Anthony Davis — to do it. Davis can become a free agent the summer after next. The clock starts now.

Boston lost out on Cousins, but that might deliver them Davis down the road.

There were many losers from DeMarcus Cousins leaving the Pelicans for the defending champs. But there are only two true winners, and after Monday night, they can celebrate their success for the next 360 or so days.