Blazers guard CJ McCollum hosts his own podcast along with Jordan Schulz of Yahoo Sports called The Pullup.
At the 37 minute mark, McCollum mentions that Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins could “potentially team up with John Wall and the Washington Wizards” this summer. Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer. You can listen to the podcast in the link below or click here.
This isn’t the first time that the Wizards and Cousins have come up in the same sentence. In fact, at least some Wizards fans dream about him playing alongside Wall in D.C. since the day of the 2010 NBA Draft. So hearing McCollum say this isn’t exactly “breaking news” to me, at least in a vacuum.
Also, the free agent market won’t seem that favorable for Cousins. This gives New Orleans a lot of leverage, even if he is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
First, the Pelicans made the second round of the playoffs without him because he is rehabbing from an Achilles tendon injury. ESPN’s Zach Lowe also wrote that the track record of players recovering from these injuries aren’t particularly promising. Second, there aren’t many teams who could sign Cousins outright. And those that do are likely rebuilding. Cousins would also probably not be interested in such teams anyway.
Finally, there could be teams that could be trade partners with New Orleans in a sign and trade type situation, but some teams are worried about his reputation as a hot-tempered player.
The Wizards cannot sign Cousins outright, so the only way he could come to Washington is either through a sign and trade situation or if he decided to play for the minimum. However, Washington is already above the luxury tax threshhold. The Wizards will probably have to trade some combination of Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat, and/or Ian Mahinmi to match a player who is sure to earn close to, if not more than $20 million next season.
Of these four, the Wizards will probably want to shed Mahinmi and/or Gortat’s contracts from their books. But the Pelicans are more likely to want Porter and/or Beal. Ultimately, sign and trade deals are difficult to execute.
As for Cousins signing a veteran’s minimum just to play with John Wall? I don’t think he’ll do that.
Ultimately, the Pelicans have a good amount of leverage in negotiations with Cousins, assuming he wants to play for a playoff caliber or better team next season. And Cousins is also happy to be in New Orleans.
I get why at least some Wizards fans want Cousins to play for the Wizards, and why they wanted to since 2010. The Wizards’ window of opportunity is also probably closing, if anything, so they may have to do something big to shake things up. But I’m not entirely convinced that Cousins’ play is an ideal fit for the Wizards, if both Wall and Beal are there with him.