On Tuesday night, while his Sacramento Kings battled the Detroit Pistons on the way toward Sacramento’s 16th win of the season, the NBA world learned the DeMarcus Cousins might be one step closer to remaining a King for life.
After “the NBA world” finished shuddering, DeMarcus’ hot touch from behind the arc helped turn what could have been a sneaky Piston upset into a comfortably-close Kings win, with Boogie adding 24 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and four made three-point attempts in five tries.
Following the contest, Cousins was in a playful mood as the media – mindful of a report that has the big man re-signing with the Kings this summer to a “designated player” (read: lots of money) contract – dove into to talk with the sometimes-tempestuous All-Star.
Boogie decided to use the time to ask two of his more pointed combatants – Sacramento Bee columnists Ailene Voisin and Andy Furillo if he should stay with the franchise beyond 2016-17:
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was asked about wanting to be in Sacramento. Says he loves Sac, then interviews a couple of media members pic.twitter.com/Cx0KOfsaY5
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) January 11, 2017
All of this comes in the wake of CSN California’s report, from James Ham:
CSN California has confirmed through a league source that the two sides have tossed around numbers and that barring a late change in direction by either side, Cousins intends to sign a massive, max-money extension, estimated at roughly $207 million during the offseason that will keep the big man in a Kings uniform long-term.
The two-time All-Star center signed a four-year max money deal in September of 2013 that takes him through the 2017-18 season. Under the new CBA, Cousins is in line for the league’s designated player exception, which allows Sacramento to give their franchise cornerstone an additional five-years on top of his current deal, keeping him in a Kings uniform 2022-23 season.
As an eligible designated player, Cousins can take home up to 35 percent of the team’s salary cap, which is set at roughly $102 million for next season.
Cousins has been with the Kings since being drafted fifth overall in the 2010 NBA draft. The 26-year old has made two All-Star teams while a member of the franchise, but has yet to make the postseason. The Kings haven’t earned a playoff berth since 2006.
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Any deal, or even negotiations, would have to wait until after the NBA’s 2016-17 fiscal season ends in early July. Barring an extended wait as league and players union lawyers work out the details of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and how it relates to how much money, exactly, these players can earn (a not-unlikely scenario, which has happened before and does not put the league’s labor peace in jeopardy), Cousins could possibly put pen to paper on July 1.
The Kentucky product, averaging a whopping 28 points, 10 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game in 2016-17, would make far more money by staying on the Kings, rather than shopping his wares on 2018’s free agent market. Cousins would hardly be devoid of suitors in that market, 29 other teams would love to hand this player a maximum contract, but the NBA and its union have negotiated to make “maximum” mean a whole heck of a lot more for incumbent teams than it does potential free agent poachers, which is why Cousins would want to stick with the perennial loser.
That tag sticks for 2016-17, it should be noted, as the Kings are on pace to win just 35 games this season. That mark would count for the highest win total of Cousins’ pro career. His 2009-10 Kentucky Wildcats also won 35 games.
The Kings are in a playoff hunt, though, fighting the disappointing Portland Trail Blazers for the final spot in a Western Conference that could see field several middling-to-good teams (alongside Denver and, charitably, New Orleans) finish under .500 on the year. The Kings are just percentage points behind the Blazers entering Wednesday night, and earning a postseason berth could be enough to make Cousins keen on coming back.
Of course, if the Kings do make the playoffs, they’ll lose their 2017 draft pick to the Chicago Bulls as a long-forgotten reward for dealing for the right to play J.J. Hickson for 35 games some half a decade ago. If the team falls flat yet again and backs into some lottery luck, the Philadelphia 76ers would reserve the right to swap draft picks with the team as a result of the Kings’ insistence on clearing cap room for the boffo 2015 offseason class (they signed Rajon Rondo).
This matters little to DeMarcus Cousins, who is used to his hoped-for draft help failing him.
Since joining the Kings in 2010 he’s watched as the team has dealt for or used draft picks on Jimmer Fredette, Ben McLemore, Thomas Robinson, Ben McLemore (currently shooting 29 percent on three-pointers), Nik Stauskas (dealt to Philly), Willie Cauley-Stein (averaging 11.6 minutes in his second season) and whatever the hell the Kings did last year.
Throw in the uneasiness inherent in Rudy Gay’s contract situation – he’s a free agent next summer with little trade value, and Gay has already indicated he’d like out – and a never-settled point guard situation, and one would think Boogie would have little to look forward to in Sacramento.
Outside of over $200 million. Playing in a city that, jokes in the locker room aside, he truly does love.
That seems like more than enough. And, perhaps by 2022, we’ll have a different tune to whistle when it comes to discussing DeMarcus Cousins and his Sacramento Kings.
(Or, perhaps not!)
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