LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Amid all the wheeling and dealing done in the NBA this summer, former Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins got a small taste of it himself in putting together his own squad for this weekend's The Basketball Tournament at Frederick Douglass High School.
"It feels good to be back (in Lexington). I feel like an 18-year-old kid again," Cousins said Friday. "I'm super excited for this opportunity for not only myself, but the guys who are actually putting in work on the floor -- exciting times ahead."
Cousins' team and seven others are bracketed in the Lexington Regional of the TBT, which began Friday afternoon at Douglass with its semifinals and finals broadcast on ESPN's networks. The winner gets a portion of the Douglass gate receipts and moves onto the national quarterfinals next month in Chicago for a shot at a winner-take-all $2 million prize.
"It's pretty cool. You kind of get to work behind the scenes," Cousins said of his role as general manager for his "Loyalty is Love" team. "When I'm in the league I don't really see the GMs being interviewed. They kind of sit in the crowd and don't talk, so I was hoping that would be my role," he added, smiling.
Cousins sat on a press table courtside, dressed in a colorful bucket hat, white T-shirt and what looked to be vintage 1991 NBA All-Star Game shorts as his team went through its shootaround Friday morning at Douglass. Though he took a few shots and horsed around a bit with his own team and his friends on the Kentucky-player-laden Bluegrass Boys, he said there was no chance he'd be on the floor this weekend.
"No!" Cousins said emphatically. "I don't start basketball until late September."
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When he does, he will be a Los Angeles Laker, playing alongside fellow UK phenom and his former New Orleans Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis and some guy named LeBron James.
Cousins spent half of last season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon before making a run to the NBA Finals with Golden State. A free agent after their Finals loss, Cousins' move to the Lakers was just a small part of one of the wildest offseasons in terms of player movement in league history.
"It's one for the books for sure," Cousins said. "There hasn't been a summer like this ever. I'm pretty sure ya'll have been entertained all summer. It's going to be exciting to see all these new faces and new teams."
As for the team he put together for the TBT, Cousins said he likes its length and versatility. He has five guys over 6-foot-10, including his brother Jaleel and former UK teammate Daniel Orton who played behind Cousins on coach John Calipari's first batch of Wildcats.