The Los Angeles Lakers earned plenty of criticisms after news broke out that they refused to give All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins a similar deal he signed with the Golden State Warriors. Cousins recently agreed to join the reigning NBA champions on a one-year, $5.3 million contract, giving the Warriors a starting lineup featuring five NBA All-Stars. The Lakers’ decision to pass on signing Cousins became a huge controversy around the league, knowing that the Purple and Gold need to surround LeBron James with quality players to win an NBA championship title next season.
Even before DeMarcus Cousins headed to Golden State, the Warriors already have the most talented roster in the league. The acquisition of Cousins undeniably made them invincible, and some people believe that even the Eastern Conference All-Star team won’t be able to beat the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. Marc Stein of New York Times recently revealed the reason behind the Lakers’ controversial decision.
“League sources say they remain Cousins fans but felt they had to pass on signing him now — even at a reduced rate — because the Lakers don’t share the Warriors’ luxury of waiting until January or February for Cousins’ return from injury. 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.”
Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors could remain competitive even if DeMarcus Cousins misses the first half of the 2018-19 NBA season. They have Jordan Bell who could serve as their temporary starting center, and if things get serious, Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr can always rely on his “Super Death Lineup.” What the Lakers need right now is a player who can be an immediate contributor.
It will be their first season where they have a real chance of competing in the Western Conference. They need to build a good chemistry as early as they could if they don’t want to disappoint LeBron James in his first year wearing the Purple and Gold. With Ivica Zubac as the only center on their roster, the Lakers are expected to search for a big man available on the free agency market.
Their own free agent, Brook Lopez, is still very available and emerged as the top target for the Lakers. The Lakers could also go after restricted free agent Clint Capela, but the Houston Rockets are reportedly planning to match any offer sheet just to bring him back.