John Calipari: Devin Booker vs DeMarcus Cousins
While some Kentucky alums, including Julius Randle (Knicks), Nerlens Noel (Thunder) and Enes Kanter (Celtics), have already found new deals in the first few days of NBA free agency, several notable ex-Wildcats have yet to find a home.
That includes DeMarcus Cousins, who looked to be well on his way to earning a max contract before tearing his Achilles tendon during the 2017-18 season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Cousins went to the Golden State Warriors last offseason, but battled injuries in the playoffs after making his return from the Achilles tear. He made the first NBA playoff appearances of his career, making it to the NBA Finals where the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “there is not a market” for Cousins’ services at this point, primarily over concerns about his recent injury history. “The mid-level exception he got in Golden State last year, I don’t (even) think that’s there.”
Another former UK player who has yet to find a new team is Willie Cauley-Stein. He recently expressed his desire to part ways with the Sacramento Kings, the team that drafted him. His wish was granted when the team rescinded his qualifying offer and made him an unrestricted free agent.
Last season, Cauley-Stein averaged 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game with the Kings, who he has spent his entire career with. Some reports have said that his next landing spot could be with the Dallas Mavericks.
More ex-Cat free agents
▪ Rajon Rondo spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged 9.2 points, eight assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Rondo only played in 46 games while dealing with with various hand injuries, as well as a suspension for allegedly spitting on Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets. The Lakers are rumored to want to keep Rondo to be a role player on the super-team that already includes LeBron James and Anthony Davis and hopes to add Kawhi Leonard.
▪ Jodie Meeks, a part of the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship squad, could be expected to sign later on once teams figure out which stars they will have and begin to build around them. Meeks averaged 6.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and one assist in eight games for Toronto during the regular season.
According to Brett Dawson of The Athletic, Meeks has garnered interest from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
▪ Patrick Patterson became a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Thunder. Last season he averaged 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 63 games.
▪ Isaac Humphries spent the last five games last season with the Atlanta Hawks, averaging three points and 2.2 rebounds. He is playing for the Los Angeles Clippers’ summer league team this month.
▪ Alex Poythress spent last season with the Hawks as a two-way (G League) player. He averaged 5.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 21 games for Atlanta.