The Los Angeles Lakers’ plan to sign two max salary players this summer has been the NBA’s worst-kept secret for quite some time. According to rumors, included in their short-list of superstar players are 2018 free agents LeBron James, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins, even though the latter suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in January.
It is well-known in sports that coming back from a torn Achilles would somehow decline a player’s athleticism and overall motor capacities. There is a high chance that he may no longer come back as the same player he once was. Despite that risk, LA Sports Hub believes that the Lakers are still interested in signing Cousins this July to replace Brook Lopez at the starting center spot next season.
Cousins, 27, tore his left Achilles in the finals seconds of the New Orleans Pelicans’ 115-113 victory over the Houston Rockets in January. He underwent surgery the next day and was ruled out for the rest of the season, as it may take six to 12 months to fully recover from the injury.
The Pelicans star would enter unrestricted free agency within those 12 months and there are rumors that his injury may affect the next contract he will receive. NOLA reported that his teammates want him back next season to help them complete another playoff run, but there are no indications yet if the front office is on the same page as the players.
Cousins is currently in Los Angeles to rehab his injury and doctors have prohibited him from traveling. The report noted that he may join the Pelicans in Portland before Saturday’s Game 1 against the Blazers if team doctors clear him for travel.
Meanwhile, Lopez’s three-year, $63.5 million deal expires this summer, as he also becomes an unrestricted free agent. He is set to earn $22.6 million at the end of the season and the Lakers are reportedly not planning to offer the veteran center the same amount of money if they should re-sign him.
According to Clutch Points, Lopez would be willing to take a pay cut if the Lakers can become a title-contender next season. There is no guarantee that L.A. would actually want him back, especially after the emergence of Julius Randle during the second half of the regular season.