DeMarcus Cousins didn’t see free agency going like this. After a solid — albeit short — season with the Golden State Warriors, Cousins was expecting to ink a big contract this summer. With a tepid market out there, Boogie opted to bet on himself, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cousins is a 28-year-old four-time All-Star who can be legitimately dominant when healthy. He’s twice been named Second Team All-NBA and is one of the better pure centers in the NBA. But after tearing his left Achilles in January of 2018, he spent most of the 2018-19 season recovering, before played 30 games for the Warriors. Then he suffered a torn quad early in the postseason and never fully recovered.
Obviously those injury woes had a lot to do with the weak market for his services once free agency opened. But signing up with the Lakers provides him with a chance at a comeback season.
His quad should heal fully before the start of the 2019-20 season, and January 2020 will mark two years since he had surgery on his Achilles. If he can remain healthy — and yes, that’s a big “if” — there’s nothing to suggest he won’t be able to perform at a high level. After all, he did average 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Warriors while recovering from a devastating injury.
Cousins will be surrounded by an excellent core that will take pressure off of him. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo are likely to play the most minutes alongside him. Anything Cousins can add to that group offensively will be a bonus. He’ll need to help Davis as a rim protector, and he’ll have JaVale McGee as a backup. McGee ate a ton of minutes for the Lakers last season, so if Cousins needs breaks he should be able to get them.
Obviously we shouldn’t expect Cousins to be the dominant force we saw for years with the Sacramento Kings. But he could certainly be a much-improved version of the guy who made an impact for the Warriors last season.
Let’s also not forget that Cousins has experience playing with Davis and Rondo from his year-plus with the New Orleans Pelicans. In fact, Davis was the one who called to convince him to team up on the Lakers.
The Lakers are taking a chance on Cousins, but given the $3.5 million price tag it’s low-risk, high-reward proposition.
For Cousins, this is a chance to bet on himself and prove he can still play at an extremely high level. A great season in LA could put him in line for a huge contract next summer.