The Los Angeles Lakers signings since landing LeBron James have been interesting to say the least. With the team’s situation still in limbo due to slow but ongoing conversations about a trade for Kawhi Leonard, it appears as though the Lakers are willing to sign veterans to one-year deals and continue to maximize cap space for 2019. James’ willingness to sign a long-term contract in Los Angeles has made the Lakers more open to being patient in how they build a contender around him.
So far, the Lakers have re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope while adding Lance Stpehenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo to their rotation. But while the team has been quiet on the second star front, they did have a chance to get one at a major discount.
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Lakers had the opportunity to sign All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to a contract “similar” to the one he signed with the Golden State Warriors but opted not to. Cousins took a one-year deal with the reigning champions worth only $5.3 million.
According to Stein, the Lakers reasoning was the big man’s recovery from an Achilles tear that could see him miss roughly half of the season.
Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss — collaborating, I'm told, on all aspects of the Lakers' planning — want the team to be as competitive as possible next season and thus felt the timing didn't allow for signing a player, however talented, who could miss half the season or more https://t.co/5ZU9kOvg4v
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 4, 2018
Cousins’ ceiling is obviously very high as one of the best big men in the game. But basketball players don’t recover well from Achilles tears. While the contract that Boogie signed is extremely low risk, it makes a lot more sense for a loaded team that won’t have to rely on his services. Signing Cousins effectively means one fewer roster spot for half of the season.
Still, signing Cousins would have been an interesting risk for the Lakers who could have had the inside track to re-sign him next year, if he recovered fully, to pair alongside James and potentially a third star. The Lakers did have interest in the big man early in free agency, even expecting to meet with Cousins but James’ official arrival changed the front office’s plans.