New Clippers center DeMarcus Cousins held his own in his debut with the red-and-blue in L.A.’s win over the Blazers on Tuesday, putting up seven points and four rebounds in just eight minutes. He fills a hole the Clippers had been looking to fill with center Serge Ibaka out because of a back issue—a lack of depth in the middle.
So far, so good on that front. Cousins did not look very rusty in taking on his limited minutes against Portland, looking instead like a spry and able scorer. Cousins had not played since he was released by the Rockets in February, but said he was more than ready for his NBA re-introduction.
“I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “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.”
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Cousins: No Conversations With Ty Lue
But Cousins is still very much trying to find his way with his new team. When he was asked, after the Blazers win, what his conversations with head coach Ty Lue had been like, Cousins shrugged and said, “Haven’t been any.”
The good thing has been the prior relationships he had with several of the Clippers on the roster. He was collegiate teammates at Kentucky with Patrick Patterson, has twice been teammates with fellow Kentucky product Rajon Rondo (in Sacramento in 2015-16, and again in New Orleans in 2017-18) and was an Olympian alongside Paul George in 2016.
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“It’s no different than starting at a new school,” Cousins said. “You always want to go somewhere or gravitate toward the people that you’re a little more comfortable with. But they definitely played a big role in making all this become possible, and having those past relationships definitely helped.”
Cousins Vows to Accept Role in Crowded Clippers Rotation
Cousins is entering a crowded rotation, especially once Ibaka returns. He won’t have the kind of big-time starting role he is accustomed to, and, in a bit of cruel irony, he is most likely to take away minutes from old friend Patterson.
Cousins says he figures to build on what he did in his debut.
“It felt good,” he said. “It has been a little over a month since I actually played a real NBA game. It felt good. After the first couple of runs up the floor, everything starts to feel normal again, and it’s moreso habit and instinct that kicks in. I think the more reps, the more comfortable I will get out on the floor. I think with each opportunity, I will get better.”
That is, of course, if Cousins can stick on the roster. He is on a 10-day contract, and the Clippers have no obligation to keep him on board beyond that. With that in mind, Cousins—known over his career for his hot-headed behavior—figures to play the part of the good soldier in his time with the Clips.
“Just doing whatever is needed for the team,” he said. “Come in, head down, ready to work every single day. Whenever my name is called upon, being ready to play. Like I said, just controlling what I can control and that’s my effort whenever my name is called on.”