The Los Angeles Lakers may have felt the DeMarcus Cousins’ injury just as much as the New Orleans Pelicans. With the NBA trade deadline over, there were rumors that the Lakers may have made a play for the All-Star center. Not anymore, but all is still not lost for a Lakers and Cousins pairing.
The Lakers could have sent Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson to New Orleans for a package that included Cousins. Now they’ll be forced to look elsewhere or will they?
While the injury may have derailed the Lakers chances this season, it’s the offseason they should have their sights on. The Pelicans may have been forced to trade Cousins, however, the injury damaged their chances. With Cousins set to become a free agent in 2018, the Pelicans could sit and watch Cousins walk out the door with nothing in return. No picks, players or playoffs. Bad news for the Pelicans, however, this is great news for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The initial report is that it could take anywhere up to 10 months of recovery time for Cousins to heal from his torn achilles. If the timetable is correct, Cousins would be set to play by the 2018 season opener in October and this is why the Lakes should pounce soon as he becomes eligible. Is it a gamble? Yes, but Cousins is still one of those rare talents that’s hard to come by.
What makes this an ideal situation for the Lakers is the money. Cousins was set to take home a king’s ransom this offseason but with teams possibly scared off due to the injury, the Lakers could do what they do best and overpay for his services. As stated earlier, it’s a risk, but it’s one worth taking. The comeback from an achilles injury will be a long road as some players never fully recovered to their normal dominant self as reported by Forbes. While it may sound a bit on the cruel side, this is exactly what the Lakers need.
The Lakers could have up to $70 million in cap space for the 2018 season which would allow them to chase after two max players, however, with Cousins injury, they could come out as the new super team in the NBA if the front office is willing to put it all on the table. There is always the possibility of Paul George and LeBron James coming over but after their deadline trade, they may look to pay Isaiah Thomas. If the Lakes can get Cousins on the cheap side for $15-20 million per, this will be a bargain.
Before the injury, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. With Brook Lopez possibly out after this year, Cousins will fill a major void the Lakers have missed in the paint. There will be teams lining up for his services, however, each team will possibly try to low-ball Cousins. The stars are aligning for the Lakers this offseason. The money is there and some of the top talents in the NBA are free. All it will take is a commitment to winning from the Los Angeles Lakers.