During this 2018 NBA offseason the Goldenstate Warriors signed center Demarcus Cousins to a contract worth about $5 million dollars a year. This signing caused many in the basketball community to throw up their hands and emphatically declare “Goldenstate just broke the NBA!”
Demarcus Cousins is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, centers in all of basketball. He is an excellent rebounder, paint defender, has a nice touch around the rim and can even step out and knock down three-pointers. He is a dominating force and an NBA all-star. He will be joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant…who are also each all-star players (Curry and Durant have also won league MVP honors). The fact that the Warriors will now have a starting 5 of all-stars is the main reason so many fans are upset. They believe that Goldenstate is now guaranteed another championship (they have won the last two in decided fashion). However, I beg the chance to remind people that in 2016, when the Warriors went 73-9 (setting a new NBA win-loss record without Durant or Cousins), the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, defeated them in the finals. Thus illustrating that nothing is guaranteed. Not only that, but in the following two seasons, after acquiring Kevin Durant, their win-loss record dropped to 67-15 and 58-24. Yet, many fans considered those teams to be unfairly stacked as well. There is no unfairly stacked team in the NBA, every owner and general manager has the ability to offer lucrative contracts to all the same players. Every player risks injury every time he steps onto the court, each team has relationship issues of some kind that can cause rifts. In the case of Goldenstate we have 3 players (Curry, Durant, and Cousins) who are used to being the main offensive option for their past or present teams. How will they handle having to be second or third, perhaps even fourth options, now that they are all on the same team? These are all potential handicaps to the Warriors’ success.
Then there is the fact Demarcus Cousins has taken a major pay cut in order to fit under the salary cap with the Warriors. Some fans are saying he shouldn’t be doing this because it is underhanded. Yet, isn’t it up to Demarcus if he wants to take a pay cut in order to play for a title contender? It is his life, his money, and his career…who are we to tell him he is doing something wrong? Generally speaking, a millionaire athlete who is willing to take a pay cut in order to help out his team has been looked at as being self-sacrificing. What makes this case different is that so many in the community simply don’t want to see the Warriors win another championship right now. So they twist Goldenstate’s and Cousins’ actions into something ugly and unjust. When, in reality, it is just a talented player and a smart team trying to win another championship. No rules broken, no unfair advantage over any other team…just smart moves by all concerned.