If Nuggets coach Michael Malone can’t be out on the court mixing it up with Denver’s opponents, at least he’ll have someone cut from the same cloth.
On Friday, the Nuggets plan on signing backup center DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the season, a source told The Denver Post. The reason for missing Thursday’s game against Sacramento was due to salary cap implications, the source said.
Nonetheless, Cousins, perhaps Denver’s best example of an enforcer, will be with the Nuggets for the foreseeable future.
“His personality is really important,” said Malone, who advocated for bringing Cousins in after he was cut by Milwaukee earlier this season. “He is a voice. He’s a personality, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. That can be refreshing at times because we have a locker room of great guys, but who are not always willing to police each other.”
Cousins has been with the Nuggets for roughly a month (and they’re 8-0 in games he’s played). That the 31-year-old feels comfortable enough to hold his teammates accountable speaks volumes about who he is, but also about the team that’s brought him in.
Within the second unit, it’s almost unfair to expect Bones Hyland (a rookie), Austin Rivers (been in Denver less than a season), Zeke Nnaji (second year), or Bryn Forbes (acquired at the trade deadline) to speak up. That leaves JaMychal Green, who prefers to lead by example, or Cousins as the guy responsible for getting Denver’s bench unit in order.
Malone wanted his personality in Denver as much as his physicality. There’s the defense, the rebounding and the playmaking he brings, and then there’s the intangibles.
“He gives us an edge,” Malone said of Cousins, who’s averaging 6.3 rebounds in a shade over 13 minutes per game.
Cousins had Malone’s endorsement from the start of their experiment. He recently gained Nikola Jokic’s as well.
“You can learn a lot of things from him,” Jokic said. “He’s still trying to search, he’s coming back from two really bad injuries. I think his off-court, like, his positivity, is much better.”
If there was an area for Jokic to improve, he acknowledges, it’s his leadership. Speaking in another language, it hasn’t always been easy for Jokic to grab his team’s attention with his voice. But Cousins, throughout his circuitous career, has never had that problem. Jokic didn’t say what lessons he could learn from Boogie, but establishing as strong a voice would be a promising place to start.