DeMarcus Cousins will be ready to play at some point this season.
And when he is, the two-time defending NBA champions will be waiting.
Adding a fifth All-Star to their already glitzy lineup, the Golden State Warriors have come to terms with Cousins on a one-year, $5.3 million deal — not the biggest money move on Day 2 of the NBA free agency period, but the most intriguing. The low-risk, high-reward deal was confirmed by two people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because nothing can yet be signed.
“5 All-Stars on 1 team…. wow,” Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky wrote on Twitter.
Indeed, that is the case for the Warriors, who will be adding Cousins to a lineup that includes All-Stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, as well as a former NBA Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala.
The Warriors, predictably, were thrilled by a move that gives them a player who averaged 25.2 points last season before getting hurt and has averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds for his career.
“The 3rd splash Brother,” Curry tweeted.
The Warriors lost center JaVale McGee to James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday as part of the flurry of moves on Day 1 of free agency, and it took general manager Bob Myers less than a full day to replace McGee with Cousins.
The Lakers kept the moves going Monday, adding Rajon Rondo — once a playoff rival of James, and now someone who will be giving him the ball.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to AP that Rondo had agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Lakers for $9 million. Like Cousins, Rondo was part of the New Orleans Pelicans last season. To help replace the Cousins void, the Pelicans agreed to a two-year deal with former Lakers big man Julius Randle, who will now pair with his fellow Kentucky product Anthony Davis in the New Orleans frontcourt.
So in less than 24 hours, not only did the Lakers lure James out of Cleveland — but added two players who were longtime antagonists in his annual quest to win the Eastern Conference, first by agreeing to a deal with Lance Stephenson on Sunday night and then moving Monday to convince Rondo to join what will be his sixth different NBA franchise.
James is back on vacation while the Lakers are busy building a roster around him.
“For him, it’s just business as usual,” former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant said of James during a Monday appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump.” ”He’ll come to work. He’ll work hard every single day. I’m really excited for our young players, because they get a chance to watch him work up close and so I think that speeds up their learning curve. … I think it’s just important for ‘Bron just to be himself and continue doing what he’s been doing.”
After just over $1 billion in new contracts were agreed upon starting late Saturday night and through the official first day of free agency Sunday — with James going to the Lakers, Durant staying in Golden State, Chris Paul staying in Houston and Paul George staying in Oklahoma City, among other news — the dollar figures cooled off a bit for Day 2.
The intrigue didn’t stop, especially when the Warriors landed Cousins — basically with the money that Durant didn’t take by structuring his deal as a two-year deal with an option year.
“Got to Love the NBA,” Orlando’s Wesley Iwundu tweeted.
Also Monday, Derrick Favors agreed on a $36 million, two-year deal to stay with the Utah Jazz. Upon hearing that news, his teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert reacted by quickly posting similar requests on Twitter — that being that Favors finally grabs a dinner check.
He can do that now, and then some.
JJ Redick is back with the Philadelphia 76ers, agreeing to a one-year deal worth about $12 million. Redick averaged 17.1 points and shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season with Philadelphia, when he made $23 million.
With James out of the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia believes it can make a run at getting to the NBA Finals. So does Boston — which, coincidentally, gave away the No. 9 jersey that Rondo used to wear there Monday by completing the long-expected signing of Brad Wanamaker, a guard who comes to Boston after spending the last seven seasons in Europe.
Wanamaker played his college ball at Pitt, and is coming off being selected MVP of this year’s Turkish League finals.
Anthony Tolliver changed teams again, this time going back to one of his former stops — Minnesota, which will sign him to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million. Tolliver has played for nine different franchises, and spent last season with Detroit.
The Pistons added Jose Calderon, who will reunite with his former coach Dwane Casey. Calderon signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of about $2.4 million. Calderon was with James in Cleveland last season.
So he’s leaving Cleveland — and so is the massive banner showing James and bearing the phrase “We Are All Witnesses.” The 10-story banner in downtown Cleveland is scheduled to be taken down by Nike later this week, even though some Clevelanders said they hoped it would remain as a tribute to James’ years with the Cavs.