DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Milwaukee Bucks in late November for the veteran minimum, but the team waived him in January before his contract became guaranteed for the season.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape on Monday, Cousins spoke about that situation and the cutthroat side of the NBA:
"It's just that side of the business that people will never really understand. [NBA teams are] just brutal as f--k. It's brutal, man. And then the weird part about it, the part that sucks the most, they can give you whatever excuse they want. They can give the media, the public whatever excuse they want and then not even be the truth. And you'll know for yourself that it's bulls--t."
Cousins, 31, played well for the Bucks in a reserve role, averaging 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game across 17 contests (five starts).
But Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski at the time that the team was trying to free up a roster spot ahead of February's trade deadline.
"We wouldn't have been able to get through this difficult stretch of the season as successfully as we did without DeMarcus," he said. "At the end of the day, we made a strategic decision to have an open roster spot, but there's nothing that would prevent us from partnering with DeMarcus again down the road. He was so good for us, and hopefully we helped him, too."
Cousins signed with the Nuggets shortly thereafter, but the veteran big man said being released from the Bucks cut deep.
"I really think it hurt and it definitely hit me in a place where it kind of crushed me," he told Spears. "I've never really had time to talk about it, to be upset about it. At that point, I had to start rehabbing this calf. I never really had time to be upset about it because at that point I had to get ready, be prepared to be with the Nuggets. It's just funny how things worked out."
He's been a solid backup for MVP candidate Nikola Jokic in Denver, putting up 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game. And he's been reunited with Michael Malone, who he also played under in Sacramento.
That has made the transition a bit easier.
"Obviously, the hardest part is learning the system, learning the guys, their movements, learning my role. Once I got past that part, everything else has been smooth," Cousins said. "You know what to expect from Mike. He knows what to expect from me when I step on the floor. If it's an issue, Mike has no issue telling me to do this or that or correct this, or whatever. It's going to get done, so it's as simple as that."
Cousins is no longer the player who was a four-time All-Star and two-time second-team All-NBA selection. But he's still more than capable of giving a team solid minutes off the bench, even if he didn't stick in Milwaukee.