Free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins stunned the NBA world on Monday night when he agreed to a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the world champion Golden State Warriors, bolstering the historically talented lineup with yet another All-Star. But there may have been a possibility for a big splash in Boston instead. ESPN reported on Monday night that Cousins chose the Warriors over the Celtics, although Boston’s interest in him remains unclear.
On Tuesday morning, a league source said that the Celtics never offered Cousins a contract. When Boston’s brass got wind that Cousins might have some interest in joining the Celtics, the source said, they reached out to Cousins’s representatives to gauge it. But by that time, they were told he had already decided to join Golden State.
Boston’s interest in Cousins had been rumored over the years, although after Cousins was traded to the Pelicans from the Kings in February 2017, league sources told the Globe that the team did not have interest in acquiring him then, primarily because of concerns that he was not coachable and that he often gave a limited effort. Perhaps that stance softened in the 18 months since. One league source said that Monday’s situation was quite different, because the price had dropped considerably and Boston would not have needed to surrender any assets to acquire the six-time All-Star.
The Celtics, who will still have one open roster spot even if they bring back guard Marcus Smart — as they are expected to — could have offered Cousins all or part of their mid-level exception. Cousins, who is still recovering after tearing his Achilles’ in January, is not expected to be able to return in time for the start of the regular season. But the Warriors will not really need him then anyway.