DeMarcus Cousins Signing Knicks Contract Discussed by HC Tom Thibodeau

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2021

Houston Rockets' DeMarcus Cousins plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau does not appear to be in a hurry to add any center depth to the roster.

When asked about the possibility of bringing in a big like DeMarcus Cousins or Andre Drummond, he deflected all roster responsibility to team president Leon Rose but said he has faith in the guys he has in the locker room.

"That's a Leon question," Thibodeau told reporters Sunday. "We have more than enough on the roster, so we'll figure out a way. We have guys that can play multiple positions, and then we're going to have to take care of the rebounding, gang rebound. Everyone has to contribute in that area."

Nerlens Noel is the only healthy center on the Knicks roster, with Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson both out of the lineup because of injuries. 

Cousins cleared waivers Thursday after being waived by the Houston Rockets. It does not appear he has a particularly strong market after looking limited upon returning from a torn ACL. Cousins averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 25 games with the Rockets, shooting a career-low 37.6 percent from the floor.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported Cousins wanted more playing time, but it seems unlikely he will find a team willing to hand him extended minutes. Never the most explosive player, Cousins looked slow defensively and was largely unable to create separation on the offensive end. After going through an ACL tear, torn Achilles and torn quadriceps since January 2018, it's unlikely Cousins' mobility ever recovers enough for him to return to All-NBA form.

However, Cousins' size, ability to stretch the floor and basketball IQ make him an intriguing fit as a role player if he's willing to play limited minutes. The Knicks have been one of the NBA's biggest surprises this season, sitting at 18-17 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

If Thibodeau prefers to play big, Cousins could slot in behind Noel and be fine in a 15-20-minute role.