Before the 2018 NBA free agency started, DeMarcus Cousins emerged as one of the top offseason targets of the Los Angeles Lakers. After Paul George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers were expected to use their salary cap space to sign LeBron James and Cousins. They succeeded to convince James to sign a four-year, $154 million deal, but “Boogie” ended up joining the Golden State Warriors on a one-year, $5.3 million contract.
The Warriors’ acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins shocked the entire league. Most NBA players found it hard to believe that the reigning NBA champions just signed one of the most dominant big men on a very cheap deal. However, Cousins revealed in an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he didn’t receive any offer as an unrestricted free agent so he and his longtime agent Jarinn Akana decided to call a number of teams, including the Warriors.
“I was f—ed up,” Cousins said. “I said to Jarinn, ‘Let’s make a call.’ He was shocked. It was very insulting to not receive an offer. But I understand. I prepared myself for this.”
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the Lakers had a chance to acquire DeMarcus Cousins on a cheap one-year deal which is similar to the contract he signed with the Warriors. However, the Lakers refused to sign Cousins despite their need to surround LeBron James with more star power.
“Word also reached us Monday night that LeBron’s Lakers, after signing Rajon Rondo away from New Orleans and then losing Randle to the Pelicans, had an opportunity to sign Cousins at a one-year price point similar to the one that landed him in Golden State. But I’m told the Lakers passed, clearing the way for the Warriors to infuriate the basketball public yet again.”
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 3, 2018
As of now, it remains questionable why the Lakers decided to pass on a very talented player like DeMarcus Cousins but chose two sign an aging point guard like Rajon Rondo, a No. 1 LeBron irritant in Lance Stephenson, and former Shaqtin’ A Fool MVP JaVale McGee. Cousins may have suffered from an ACL injury, but even if he fails to return to his 100 percent shape, he’s still a better player than Rondo, Stephenson, and McGee.
Giving him a one-year deal won’t hurt the Lakers at all. It would have given them the chance to evaluate his injury recovery to know if he is worth signing a long-term contract in the summer of 2019. So far, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka haven’t released any statement regarding their decision to pass on Cousins. Now that the Lakers addressed their only weakness, they obviously have a lot of work to do if they want help LeBron James to win an NBA championship title next season.