For a little more than a month, DeMarcus Cousins did everything the Milwaukee Bucks asked — and needed — of him, both on and off the court.

Yet that still wasn’t enough for the Bucks to guarantee the veteran center’s contract for the remainder of the National Basketball Association season.

Moments after Cousins scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a shorthanded Milwaukee team in a loss to Toronto Wednesday night, news broke that the Bucks planned to waive him ahead of a Friday deadline to guarantee non-guaranteed contracts like the one-year pact Cousins signed with Milwaukee on Nov. 30.

The team officially announced the move Thursday afternoon.

Cousins, 31, had been back home in Denver waiting for an opportunity after going all through the summer and first two months of the regular season without an offer. At the time, the Bucks were looking for size to help take pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis, who were seeing most of the action at center with Brook Lopez sidelined since the season opener because of back issues. 

He became more valuable when both players landed in the league’s healthy and safety protocols, which led to Cousins’ five starts with Milwaukee. 

In all, Cousins appeared in 17 games for the Bucks, averaging 9.1 points on 46.6% shooting with 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks while playing an average of 16.8 minutes as the Bucks went 11-6.

Because of that production, the move came as something of a surprise, especially with Lopez still recovering from back surgery. But with a number of players expected to hit the open market Friday and the NBA’s trade deadline a month away, Bucks general manager Jon Horst decided the flexibility that comes with an open roster spot was more important at this point in the season.

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“We wouldn’t have been able to get through this difficult stretch of the season as successfully as we did without DeMarcus,” Horst told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Wednesday night. “At the end of the day, we made a strategic decision to have an open roster spot, but there’s nothing that would prevent us from partnering with DeMarcus again down the road. He was so good for us, and hopefully we helped him, too.”

After waiving Cousins, the Bucks’ roster stands at 17 players — 14 full-time players, two on two-way contracts and another, center Luke Kornet, whose playing under a 10-day hardship deal. That group also includes swingman Wes Matthews, who like Cousins, is playing under a non-guaranteed deal that the Bucks need to make a decision on ahead of Friday’s deadline.

Assuming the Bucks keep Matthews, a Wisconsin native averaging 5.9 points nd 3.2 3-pointers per game in his second stint with the team, they’ll still have one more roster spot they can use to sign a player to either a standard or hardship 10-day contract, acquire help ahead of the deadline or sign a free agent after the round of buyouts that follow the trade deadline.

“We wouldn’t have been able to get through this difficult stretch of the season as successfully as we did without DeMarcus,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “He was so good for us and hopefully we helped him too.”

…We made a strategic decision to have an open roster spot, but there’s nothing that would prevent us from partnering with DeMarcus again down the road.”

Source: Forbes

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