The Miami Heat have not shied away from their interest in DeMarcus Cousins this season and could look to continue their pursuit this offseason.
Ahead of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat appear to be one of the top-tier contenders in the Eastern Conference but still appear to be a piece away. Once this season ends, the team should continue their heavy pursuit of DeMarcus Cousins, who could be that missing piece. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported back in February that Miami had an interest in signing the big man that dated back to last offseason.
Cousins chose the Los Angeles Lakers over the Heat last offseason and did not play a single game for them as he suffered a torn ACL right before the season began. The 29-year-old was waived in February after the Lakers picked up Markieff Morris off the buyout market.
The Heat once again tried to pursue him to no avail.
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With all of this extended time off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the center could be in great health next season, and back to his dominant stature. Although it appears he may not want to leave California so he can rejoin the Lakers next season on a new deal, the Heat should ramp up their pursuit of Cousins as soon as the offseason begins.
Cousins may have a significant injury history dating back to 2018, but right now, he would worth the gamble for Miami. The Heat shocked everyone this season when Jimmy Butler led them to the Eastern Conference’s 4-seed before the season halted, however, they are not without their faults.
Although they have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league, the most significant area in need of an upgrade is the center position. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard are the current centers, and although they are viable options, a player of Cousins’ stature could turn this team up a notch.
His health would be the biggest question mark, but when healthy, Cousins has proven to be one of the top centers in the league today. In 30 regular-season games with the Golden State Warriors last season, Cousins averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. Although those numbers were down compared to previous seasons, the center proved he could still play at a high level despite the injuries.
A player like that could make an immediate impact on a team such as the Miami Heat and could help them significantly in a potential matchup playoff against the Milwaukee Bucks. Miami was the only Eastern Conference team to beat the league-best Bucks on multiple occasions this season and could be their biggest threat come the postseason. Although they will not have him for this playoff run, Cousins would be a significant addition for future matchups.
Miami’s physicality was a significant reason for their success against Milwaukee, and DeMarcus Cousins has always been a physical player, to say the least. He could provide another defensive presence in the paint to try and slow down reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, something the Heat need in a hypothetical matchup.
Another area the Heat could use Cousins at is there scoring in the paint. Miami ranked 27th in points in the paint this season with a mere 44.3 per game. A large part of this was due to the team’s dynamic 3-point shooting, but they could use help down low. With all of that spacing caused by their 3-point shooters, a frontcourt comprised of Bam Adebayo and DeMarcus Cousins would be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Cousins’ rugged style of play would fit in well with this group, and he already has some chemistry with a couple of Heat players. The big man was teammates with Jimmy Butler on Team USA several years back, while he and Andre Iguodala shared the court with the Warriors last season. If there is any chance Cousins would be willing to sign anywhere this offseason, those two should make their best pitch for him to come to South Beach.
The Miami Heat are contenders as is, and there is no question about it. However, adding a player like DeMarcus Cousins would already bolster this top-heavy roster and their chances of contending for the title.
As soon as free agency begins, the Heat should continue their pursuit of Cousins and go all-in on the big man.