Once again, the Clippers were in a position to give big man DeMarcus Cousins, in town on a 10-day contract, a bit of playing time. L.A. faced the Pistons in a win on Sunday night and rather than insert Cousins into the mix, coach Ty Lue went with forward Patrick Patterson as the backup center for a short, five-minute stint in a game in which the Clippers frequently went small.
Cousins has appeared in just two games of the four for which he has been dressed in is time with the Clippers. He has played 13 minutes and scored a total of 10 points with six rebounds. But the big stat for him is three: That’s the number of days left on his 10-day contract.
And there’s someone, apparently, breathing down his neck. On Sunday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Clippers were planning to give a 10-day contract to guard Yogi Ferrell, presumably to fill minutes for the injured Patrick Beverley. That will force the Clippers to get rid of someone, either Cousins or another 10-day signing, G-League defensive ace Malik Fitts.
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— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 11, 2021
Cousins Most Likely to Make Way for New Guard
Cousins seems to be the most likely victim. He was brought in to fill in for Serge Ibaka’s minutes, with Ibaka out since March 15 with a back issue. There is no indication that Ibaka is ready to return any time soon, and he will not accompany the team on its current three-game road trip that runs through this week.
But if Lue is more comfortable sticking with Patterson than inserting Cousins, there is not much need to keep him around.
Lue did say, on April 8, that he hoped Cousins would stay with the Clippers beyond his current 10-day deal. Players are eligible, under NBA rules, for two 10-day contracts before they must be signed for the remainder of the year.
“You hope so. A guy like this with the talent that he has, it’d be great to have on our team. He’s done a good job, coming in every day playing 5-on-5 with young guys. Comes early, stays late just working on the plays.”
Ty Lue on DeMarcus Cousins staying beyond the 10-day deal pic.twitter.com/1BTFZ4GPx8
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 9, 2021
“You hope so,” Lue said. “A guy like this with the talent that he has, it’d be great to be on our team. He’s done a good job, he’s come in every day, playing 5-on-5 with young guys to try and stay ready. He’s come early, stays late every day just working on the plays and trying to pick it up. Like I said, with Serge being out, needing a bigger body for the players we’re gonna play, I think he can make a huge impact for our team.”
That, though, was before the Clippers knew the extent of Beverley’s hand injury, which could keep him out until the start of the playoffs.
Cousins Has Been Waived by Rockets, Lakers
Nothing is certain yet, of course, but getting let go by the Clippers would be a tough fate for Cousins, who has struggled to find a home since tearing his ACL while playing for the Pelicans in 2018—right before what would have been a lucrative free agency. He had moderate success in coming back with the Warriors the following year, and signed a one-year deal with the Lakers in the summer of 2019.
But Cousins tore an ACL just after signing the deal, and never played for the Lakers as he rehabbed the injury. He was released last February, but signed on with the Rockets for this season. Houston, going into a full rebuild, released him, too, this past February, making him a free agent able to sign with a contender.
The contenders did not come calling, though, through the trade deadline and into the thick of the buyout market. Finally, the Clippers offered a 10-day deal—but now he could be looking at hitting free agency yet again.
“I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said after his Clippers debut. “I feel great, my body feels great. I think I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career. At this point, it’s about going out there and just putting everything together and just trying to continue to show that I’m healthy and I’m here to play this game at a high level.
“I understand the situation that I’m in. Whatever opportunity is given to me, I plan on just taking full advantage of it, just controlling what I can control.”