The NBA season has been put on indefinite hold due to the spread and danger of COVID-19. If or when the season restarts, should the Lakers consider bringing DeMarcus Cousins back into the fold?
We are in scary and uncertain times with COVID-19 running rampant worldwide. It is a time for sports to be on hiatus and for everyone to take precautions regarding their own health. As well as the health of those around them.
With the NBA in turmoil due to the pandemic, the season has rightfully been postponed until further notice. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the greater NBA community are looking at what is necessary to stop the spreading of the virus.
With the season pushed back, it moves the NBA Finals further back in the calendar. Due to the delay in the schedule, would it be a good idea for the purple and gold to bring back DeMarcus Cousins?
If the season had gone on as previously intended, the answer was a rightful NO by the Lakers. Cousins has been through injury hell the last 2 years. Forcing him to come back when he needs the time to rehab would have been wrong for both his physical and mental well being.
The Lakers made the right choice by bringing in Markieff Morris and releasing Cousins. It released the pressure on Cousins’ shoulders to rush back this season and make an impact. It allowed him to focus on getting himself right and preparing for the next season. Hopefully with the Lakers.
The Lakers are ideally placed to see how he is doing physically. Since his release, he has still been in the building, working out at the practice facility, rehabbing with the training staff/doctors, and getting the best care possible.
If the training staff feel confident that Cousins’ body is ready to get back to work then it should be a no brainer for the purple and gold. In time, if the Lakers were to get back a fully healthy, fully focused, and in-shape Cousins then the rest of the league would be looking over their shoulder, for sure.
Easily one of the most dominant big men in the league since Shaquille O’Neal, Cousins has bulldozing through his competition since he first set foot in the league. Blessed with ideal size, athleticism, and footwork, the 29-year-old has been putting opposing centers to the sword for years now.
Cousins is so skilled that he can beat his opponent in a number of ways. With his back to the basket, he can use his strength to drill a hole in players’ chests and back them down until they tap out. If that doesn’t work he can use his vast array of post moves and finesse his way to the basket. He can also power through players and finish with monstrous dunks.
Cousins’ outside game isn’t to be disrespected either. Capable of consistently making shots all over the floor, he has a well-rounded offensive skill-set that lends to that of the modern big man.
One area of his game that does not get enough respect is his passing ability though. He is exceptional passing out of double-teams and hitting the open man in the corner. Dealing with the pressure of a double-team can cause most big men to panic and turn the ball over but Cousins, and Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, are exceptional at reading the defense. Understanding that the double team is coming and finding the open teammate for an easy bucket.
Watching Davis and Cousins in New Orleans together can give fans a taste of what could be expected from the duo if they both suit up for the Lakers in the near future.
While it may not be fair to expect Cousins to get back to his Sacramento Kings/ New Orleans Pelicans past-self. If he can get to 70% of what he was, then the Lakers will be landing themselves an extremely valuable player. Potentially a 3rd star.
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Frank Vogel, back in February, revealed that DeMarcus Cousins was “on track to get healthy by the playoffs“. However, a couple of days later, Vogel retracted his comments saying that Cousins was not close to a return.
Surprisingly a few days on from that, Cousins was waived to make room for Markieff Morris. But the 29-year-old could very well still have a future in Los Angeles. As it has been reported that himself and the Lakers have mutual interest in a contract agreement come the summer.
Cousins is coming off an ACL tear that he suffered during preseason. Such injury has ruined countless NBA careers. It’s a tightrope that unfortunately many have found themselves on throughout basketball history. Although, in recent years many have bounced back to their former selves.
It is likely that Cousins’ athleticism and physicality won’t be at the level it once was, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t get to a level near his former self. Zach LaVine and Kristaps Porziņģis are recent examples of players getting back to the top of their game following serious injuries.
However, when Cousins returns, what would his skill-set offer the team?
DeMarcus Cousins offers a powerful offensive arsenal and is accustomed to being heavily involved. Looking back at the 2018-19 season with the Golden State Warriors, although it was a small sample size, he displayed some promising signs following an Achilles injury.
He had an impressive 111.0 offensive rating with a Player Impact Plus-Minus of 2.2+. This was the first season Cousins was playing with a Championship caliber team and he showed that he was up to the task.
Despite having a below average season from the 3-point line (27.4%), he was averaging 16.3 points on 48% shooting. This offense is what the Lakers need and having a bench unit commanded by Cousins could provide the firepower needed for a Championship run next season.
If Cousins can regain his efficiency from range that he displayed during his years in Sacramento and New Orleans, then it will be frightening for the rest of the league.
Whilst looking at Cousins’ offensive impact, it’s important to have a look at his all-round game.
In his single season with the Warriors, his defensive rating was sitting at 106.5, with 1.5 blocks and 8.2 rebounds per game. For a lot of that season he was struggling and hesitant to get to the perimeter to contest deep shots. His rust and lack of conditioning was evident as his presence in the paint was not what it used to be also.
Towards the end of the campaign, Cousins showed glimpses that he has the skill and effort to be effective as he abused his size in the paint when blocking shots.
With LeBron James off the floor, the Lakers could utilise Cousins’ play-making ability. Additionally, he could produce some much-needed points and spacing.
No-one really knows exactly where Cousins will end up next season but for now he is rehabbing with the Lakers and that is beneficial for both parties. Cousins’ intangibles have really helped develop and grow the Laker culture and this was evident in Frank Vogel’s recent comments; “He’s become part of our family, so he’s going to be around”.
The Lakers’ actions towards Cousins will definitely play a positive part when he decides on his destination for next year. If he does come back to the purple and gold then an already blistering team will become more powerful.
Lakers UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.
Fanatics UK:http://tinyurl.com/y4vjv32b and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout to receive 10% off. This is not limited to just NBA apparel, but the discount can be used on MLB, NFL, NHL, Football/Soccer gear also!
NBA Store Europe:http://tinyurl.com/y585vud9 and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout. This is not limited to Lakers gear, the discount is available site-wide on any product you wish to purchase!
On August 15, newly acquired center DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with a torn ACL, just 40 days into his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Cousins picked up the injury in an off-season scrimmage, after clashing knees with an opposing player.
With the injury to Cousins forcing theLakers into a scramble for a new big man, Rob Pelinka and Co. have scheduled workouts with three veteran centers. These being; Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, and Marreese Speights. All of whom have been highly regarding at some stage of their careers.
Dwight Howard and the Lakers is a partnership that, on paper, should have been fruitful back in 2012-13. However, it was anything but, with the Lakers getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1st round of the playoffs that season. This was to be Howard’s solitary season in Los Angeles after turning down a 5-year, $118 million maximum contract extension, to sign with the Houston Rockets.
Since then, Howard has gone on to play for 4 teams in last 5 years. With a reoccurring injury, he only suited up 9 times last season for the Washington Wizards, where he averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds, in 25 minutes.
Say what you like about Howard’s off-the-court antics, which are usually cited as being the reason for his frequent movement around the league, but you’ll be stretched to find a player that, when fit, can happily average 12 and 12.
With LeBron James heading up a roster packed with veteran leadership and a clear championship goal, Dwight Howard may well change his ways and buy into this project. All while providing valuable minutes alongside JaVale McGee at the center position.
Joakim Noah has played just 124 of a possible 328 games in his last 4 seasons. This included his final season with the Chicago Bulls, his poor tenure with the New York Knicks, and his, somewhat, mini resurgence last season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Averaging 7 points and 5.7 rebounds with the Grizzlies in just 16.5 minutes, we saw glimpses of the player that Chicago fans idolised for nearly a decade (2007-2016). However, the fiery, hard-nosed defensive presence that Noah brought to the league may be a thing of the past. Anything less would not be enough to combat the agile bigs that the NBA currently has to offer, including; Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The injuries that Noah sustained in his career will, unfortunately, mean that he will never be able to be that high-energy tenacious all-defensive team center from his prime. But, at 34-years-old, if fit, he could add valuable numbers to a Lakers outfit in desperate need of a productive center.
NBA Champion Marreese Speights spent the 2018-19 season playing his trade in China with the Guangzhou Long-Lions, where he averaged 22.7 points, and 7.4 rebounds, in 31 minutes. Speights also shot 35.7% from beyond the arc, which matches his NBA career average of 35.6%.
Speights would be a very different option to that of Howard or Noah, as he provides a skill-set, at 6-foot-10, that would stretch the floor whilst maintaining size. Although, if the Lakers are looking to fill the 5 position with a traditional rebounder then Speights just isn’t going to be a viable option in that regard.
The Lakers have already held a workout in Las Vegas for Speights this summer, so this is the 2nd time that Pelinka and Frank Vogel will be casting an eye over the 32-year-old veteran.
Whoever the Lakers choose to fill that center spot will likely be no comparison to the injured DeMarcus Cousins. But, given the cards that the have been dealt, and with Anthony Davis not looking like much of an option at the 5, going into the season with another tried and tested veteran could be a positive.
A positive that sees the Lakers possessing a player looking for a resurgence in form to save their career, whilst sharing the team’s title aspirations.
In the early hours of July 6, Kawhi Leonard shocked the NBA world and opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers, over the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Leonard signed a 3-year, $103 million deal with the Lakers’ cross-city rivals. The Clippers paired him with Paul George, of whom they traded for to secure Leonard’s signature.
The Lakers were holding out in the hope that Leonard would lean towards the purple and gold, instead Pelinka and Co. have been forced to take an alternative route, in an attempt to build a championship contender.
Almost instantly after the Kawhi news, we were bombarded with numerous Laker signings. It’s safe to say, so far, the front office deserve praise. They’ve built a deep, talented roster that is more than capable of pushing for championship honours. Whether they get over the line is another thing, but they should certainly be in the mix.
32-year-old Danny Green was the Lakers’ first signing after being dealt the Kawhi Leonard news. Green has signed a 2-year, $30 million deal. He was the premier ‘3 and D’ player left on the market, and it was expected that the Dallas Mavericks would offer a larger, lengthier deal, but the purple and gold secured their man.
The 6-foot-6 guard won the second NBA Championship of his career last season, whilst at the Toronto Raptors. On his way to championship glory, he posted averages of 10.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, whilst shooting an incredible .455% from 3-point range. Throughout his career, Green is a .404% shooter from beyond the arc so he does perform at a consistent rate in that category.
Defensively he plays hard too. A solid addition on both ends of the court.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be returning to the Lakers on a 2-year, $16 million deal. The shooting guard out of Georgia does split opinion within the Laker community, and rightly so. Some days he can be lights out from a scoring standpoint and really hold his own defensively, then other days he can simply disappear and barely contribute.
It is easy to forget that Caldwell-Pope is still only 26-years old. In the past few seasons for the purple and gold, he has been developing as a player and understanding his role on the team. In his first season, the Lakers signed him to a 1-year, $18 million deal, and now he will be returning at a considerably less, more reasonable, rate.
If he can actively contribute off the bench, he can be a useful piece. Knocking down open 3s and locking in defensively at a consistent rate will result in a successful season from KCP.
The 2-time NBA Champion, JaVale McGee, was one of the only bright sparks in an all-but miserable season last time out for the Lakers. He played hard and filled a void at the center position. Suffering pneumonia mid-way through the season slowed him down unfortunately, but overall it really isn’t a surprise to see the 31-year-old return to Los Angeles.
Playing 20+ minutes for the first time since the 2010-11 season, McGee averaged a career-high 12 points per game last season. He offered a strong rebounding game, along with interior defense, where he finished 5th for the most blocked shots in the league.
It may be too much to expect McGee to play considerable minutes in a starting role, but in a sensible center rotation he can definitely be an effective player.
Quinn Cook has quite a remarkable NBA story. From going undrafted in 2015, to learning his trade in the then NBA D-League, before signing a 10-day deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, then earning a spot in the Golden State Warriors‘ rotation, to winning an NBA Championship in 2018.
Last season for the Warriors, Cook featured in 74 regular season games, averaging 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He also featured in 17 playoff games, including the NBA Finals, which will provide further postseason experience to the Lakers’ roster. He has signed a 2-year, $6 million deal.
Throughout his short NBA career so far, Cook has established himself as a solid spot-up shooter. Averaging .418% from 3-point land over 121 games. As a point guard that is just 6-foot-1, he does come with his defensive worries but his offensive game is why he was brought in. After-all, players like Green, Caldwell-Pope, etc, can be moved over to cover his defensive workload.
For many years DeMarcus Cousins has been linked with the Lakers, as a star player. Well, Cousins now joins the purple and gold on a 1-year, $3.5 million deal. Since suffering an Achilles injury in January 2018 whilst at the New Orleans Pelicans, the 28-year-old has been on the long road to recovery. For the 2018-19 season, he opted to join the Golden State Warriors on a $5.3 million, mid-level exception.
It was expected that Cousins would be out until early 2019, at the very least. Cousins did make his comeback ahead of schedule, featuring in his Warriors debut in January 2019. Through the remainder of the campaign the 6-foot-11 center played 30 regular season games, averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks. In the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs Cousins tore his quadricep, which ruled him out until game 1 of the Finals.
Before injuring his Achilles, DeMarcus Cousins was undoubtedly an elite talent with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 25+ points, 12 rebounds, along with a host of assists, steals, and blocks. He is a low risk, high reward acquisition. The Lakers getting him for less than the Warriors signed him for is a steal. Plus, an Achilles injury is commonly a 2-year injury, of which Cousins is nearing the end of.
With a full off-season under his belt, Cousins should be nearing 80% healthy. Even a partially fit Cousins should be able to contribute 15-20 points and 10 rebounds per game, you would think. Which would be more than enough for this Lakers team, alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Co. If he nears 100% fitness, he could very well be the 3rd star in the team.
Fingers crossed he can stay healthy!
Returning alongside Caldwell-Pope and McGee, is Rajon Rondo. The 33-year-old point guard has signed a 2-year, minimum deal with the Lakers. Last season he posted averages of 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1.2 steals.
He endured an up-and-down season last time out, where at times he looked a solid piece within the Lakers roster. Namely in the Christmas Day win at Golden State, and with his buzzer-beater winner at his former home, TD Garden. But for the majority of, he was underwhelming. Defensively he was a liability and he appeared to simply lack effort in the latter part of the season.
Nonetheless, the Lakers have opted to bring Rondo back. The point guard pool in this free agency period was sparse, so he does fill a void. Additionally, a recent report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports suggests that the Lakers have intentions of starting LeBron James at point guard for the upcoming season. As a result, Rondo could feature off the bench under limited minutes.
Much like Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso‘s NBA journey is a feel-good story. After going undrafted in 2016, Caruso hit the then D-League with the Oklahoma City Blue, before securing the Lakers’ first ever 2-way contract, splitting his time between the NBA team and the G-League affiliate team, the South Bay Lakers.
After lighting up the G-League during the 2017-18 season, but failing to impress in the NBA, Caruso was handed another 2-way deal for the 2018-19 campaign. It was in this season where the 6-foot-4 guard impressed. In 25 games he averaged 9.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal, on .455% shooting. From 3-point range, Caruso shot at a blistering .480% rate. On April 5, 2019, he recorded a career-high 32 points in a victory against the Clippers.
In his short time with the Lakers, Caruso has become a fan favourite and rightly so. He plays hard, and is clearly talented. For the upcoming 2019-20 season, Alex Caruso has signed a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. With it comes another opportunity to shine, this time on what is expected to be a winning team.
After playing the first part of last season with the Clippers, and the second with the Memphis Grizzlies, Avery Bradley was recently waived and hit the free agent market. Almost instantly, the Lakers snapped Bradley up to a 2-year, $9.7 million deal.
Being highly regarding as a top-level ‘3 and D’ player throughout the majority of his career, Bradley has experienced a decline in recent years. After excelling with the Boston Celtics between 2010-2017, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he continued his impressive play. But then injuries hit and he was moved onto the Clippers. This stalled the 28-year-old guard’s progress.
However, in the latter part of last season, with the Grizzlies, Bradley appeared to regain some form. In 14 games, he averaged 16.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2 assists, on .463% shooting (.384% from 3). Even through the last few years where his play has dropped, his defense hasn’t. Through his 11-year career so far, Avery Bradley has built a reputation for being one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The Lakers were in clear need of a defensive wing, and they have their man. If Bradley can regain his offensive spark, the Lakers may have grabbed a steal.
Troy Daniels was the 1st player that the Lakers signed this off-season, as they were waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency decision. The general consensus through the last decade-and-a-half has been to surround LeBron James with shooters. With that, Daniels fits the bill.
The 27-year-old guard is a .400% career 3-point shooter. He will most likely see limited minutes behind a deep, talent Lakers roster, but when called upon, Daniels should do a job. He has signed a 1-year, $2.1 million deal.
33-year-old Jared Dudley was the 2nd player that the Lakers turned towards, whilst waiting for Leonard. Signing a 1-year, $2.6 million deal, Dudley adds a smart, veteran presence to the locker room.
He may not be the flashiest of players, but veterans like Dudley are a pivotal to the success of any NBA team. He will provide a calm head to a team that includes many strong personalities, who could clash from time-to-time.
On the court, Dudley is capable of contributing. In 20 minutes with the Brooklyn Nets last season, he posted averages of 4.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Defensively he is tough, and can certainly hold his own.
The Lakers’ roster so far:
Rajon Rondo (G), Alex Caruso (G), Quinn Cook (G), Danny Green (G), Avery Bradley (G), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G), Troy Daniels (G), Talen Horton-Tucker (G/F), LeBron James (F), Kyle Kuzma (F), Jared Dudley (F), Anthony Davis (F/C), DeMarcus Cousins (C), JaVale McGee (C).