The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t sitting by after losing Paul George in the free agency sweepstakes, quickly turning their attention to DeMarcus Cousins in a move that experts think could help them ultimately land LeBron James.
George had long been seen as a top target for the Lakers — to the point that Magic Johnson ate a $500,000 fine from the NBA for tampering last year by letting his intentions for George being known — but the All-Star re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder as soon as free agency began. As CBS Sports noted, the Lakers immediately shifted to going after big man DeMarcus Cousins.
As the report noted, Cousins is the biggest available star on the market at the moment, with LeBron’s status and his plans in question, so signing the talented big man could be important in building a team that could attract James. And though plenty of ink has been spilled speculating that LeBron and Paul George would end up together in Los Angeles, there have been some quieter rumors around the NBA that Cousins could really be the key to LeBron’s future.
As Newsweek noted last year, Cousins was seen as a major cog in the potential superteam the Lakers were expected to start forming with this year’s free agency. Landing him could be a lot easier for the Lakers now that they have the hypothetical money they would have given to Paul George freed up.
LeBron James has also dropped hints that he would want to play with DeMarcus Cousins. In early 2017, LeBron had high praise for Cousins, saying he is the best big man in the NBA.
LeBron James, in the wake of Draymond Green saying the same recently, calls DeMarcus Cousins "the best big man in our game."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 13, 2017
The Los Angeles Lakers may have quickly shifted from the idea of a superteam based around Paul George, The Big Lead noted. Jason McIntyre believes that the Lakers halted on recruiting George once it was clear Kawhi Leonard would be available in a trade. It’s not clear what that would mean for DeMarcus Cousins, but the Lakers have already cleared the cap space to bring in three superstars, so it is conceivable that Boogie would be one of them.
With LeBron James not giving any indication when he plans to make a decision, the rumors about his next NBA destination are likely to stretch on for as long as he decides to mull over his options. DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t given an indication which way he’s leaning but has also fielded a call from the New Orleans Pelicans, hoping to get him back after an injury-plagued tenure.