Why the Lakers should bring back DeMarcus Cousins for the 2020 NBA playoffs
Before the 2019-20 NBA season was struck by a thunderbolt back in March in the form of the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Lakers were on a roll as they had shown they could contend with the best of the best in the league. LeBron James and company were able to take down the Milwaukee Bucks (best record in the league) and the division rival L.A. Clippers (arguably their toughest competition in the West) convincingly in front of the hometown faithful at the Staples Center.
With three months going by since the last time the Lakers took the floor, the question moving forward is whether they’ll be able to get back to where they left off once games get back underway at the end of July. No one knows exactly what to expect when these games get started next month, but one thing is for sure, the Lakers will be put under the microscope, especially as a team filled with veteran talent that could come out rusty.
Among the numerous questions that will be swirling around this Lakers team is whether the team should seriously consider bringing DeMarcus Cousins back into the fold. The versatile center was still trying to get back to 100 percent from his offseason knee surgery to repair a torn ACL when the team decided to waive him in order to create a roster spot, which was ultimately filled by Markieff Morris.
Along with bringing in Morris, Los Angeles also added Dion Waiters to their roster after mutually parting ways with Troy Daniels. The additions of Morris and Waiters are steps in the right direction as it gives them two proven veterans with playoff experience.
However, with the extra time to get his body right and get ready for the rigors of a lengthy playoff run, Cousins should be an option the Lakers consider to bolster their roster for the postseason, especially if there are expanded rosters. The veteran gives the team another versatile weapon in the frontcourt who can both stretch the floor with his outside shooting and cause matchup problems for opponents with yet another talented big man for teams to contend with along with Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard.
If healthy and in game shape, the Lakers would be wise to make the move to bring him back. Even though he was waived by the team, the 29-year-old chose to continue to rehab with the team. Cousins, although volatile and unpredictable, was a favorite among his teammates and the coaching staff in Los Angeles. The four-time All-Star fit in perfectly with this team and was a disappointing loss for Los Angeles when he was waived.
The reasoning for Cousins being waived made perfect sense. The Lakers didn’t feel confident he’d be able to contribute this season, and with the team in title contention, they couldn’t afford to keep a roster spot occupied by a player that would never see the floor. Now that the situation has changed, as he’ll have more than four months to get his body ready for the playoffs, the Lakers need to take another look at their roster and ask themselves whether it is worth not bringing a potentially healthy Cousins back in the mix for what could be a run to a 17th NBA title.
As is, the Lakers roster already has one of the most intimidating frontcourts in basketball. Their size, length, and athleticism can’t be matched, and the addition of Cousins would be something to see and a scary sight for any opponent the Lakers might see in the postseason.
During his short time with the New Orleans Pelicans playing alongside Davis, he averaged some of the best numbers of his career at 25.0 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.
If he returns to the Lakers, he could become the team’s third-best player behind James and Davis while heavily tipping the scales in Los Angeles’ favor if healthy and back to form. The prospect of adding a player of this caliber will be extremely tempting for general manager Rob Pelinka. Still, it all comes down to whether he is truly ready for action and prepared for what is in store come playoff time.
Injuries have plagued Cousins’ career for the past few years and may continue to do so, but there’s a chance he can stay healthy in a limited role while giving Los Angeles a solid option off the bench. It’ll be interesting to see if the Lakers brass does end up going in this direction with Cousins. It is an opportunity and risk that they should take as he could make this squad an overwhelming favorite and potentially the most dangerous team in the playoffs come July 31.