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Clippings: DeMarcus Cousins makes his case to stay through the postseason

Cousins’ second 10-day contract comes to an end today.

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Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

DeMarcus Cousins has steadily increased his value to the Clippers over the past three weeks. After playing in three of the team’s six games during his first 10-day contract, Cousins has played in all five games of his second 10-day, which is set to expire today.

There’s a good chance we haven’t seen the last of Cousins, though. The Clippers would have to sign him for the rest of the season to retain him, but his performance thus far, combined with the obvious affection his teammates have for Cousins, suggests that should be a done deal.

UPDATE 9:59 a.m. PT: Boogie’s back!

“Another great, great locker room guy for us,” Reggie Jackson said about Cousins after the team’s win over Houston. “He’s another high IQ player, guy. Can throw it to down in the block, get more comfortable. Guy who’s drawing double teams. And I don’t think it’s just for myself, but I think everyone else in the locker room, we’re realizing how great of a passer he is out of double teams. So it’s been amazing. It’s been amazing to see.

“He’s playing with this energy. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and it’s been great added energy to our group. So we’ve embraced him and welcomed him, and enjoyed having him here.”

Amir Coffey was a primary beneficiary of Cousins’ passing in the last game, scoring seven points off of feeds from the big man. Ty Lue has mentioned that Cousins has spent a lot of time scrimmaging with the young guys, and there is clearly a connection between the two in terms of Coffey understanding when to cut to receive Cousins’ passes.

Cousins is still working on learning the offense, and the Clippers have had to simplify the playbook with him on the court, but his prodigious offensive talent and familiarity with Rajon Rondo and Patrick Patterson, among others, make this a natural fit. Patterson called Cousins his “little big brother” and said, “It’s just been positive energy, good vibes, good times, three Kentucky brothers all on a team, all united again, so just happiness. Just talking to him every single day, making sure he’s focused. He’s doing the same thing for me, making sure I’m focused, making sure we’re doing everything possible off the court to stay ready whenever our names are called during games.”

Serge Ibaka still isn’t traveling with the team, but he did play 4-on-4 in practice before the Clippers left for Houston. That would indicate that he is still a ways away from returning to the court, giving Cousins a clear role with 12 games remaining.

The Clippers are plus-5.5 per 100 possessions with Cousins on the court, worse than their plus-7.8 differential overall, but still a positive impact for a player who has been working his way back from a series of leg injuries over the past few years. Perhaps this is the spot for Cousins to officially resurrect his career.

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