The Los Angeles Lakers once again find themselves on the short list of teams that just missed on acquiring an available superstar. This time, the star: DeMarcus Cousins. His new home: New Orleans, with the Pelicans.
Laker fans have reacted about as you’d expect. Some have shown their disappointment that the front office again swung and missed on an attempt to finally bring some firepower to Los Angeles. Others have lauded Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak for holding onto the bright future versus gambling on a talented-yet-polarizing figure like Boogie.
Reports have started surfacing about how involved the Lakers were, and how close they came to landing Cousins. The hard line in the sand they refused to cross was Branding Ingram, per Ramona Shelburne, a decision that will likely continue to split the fan base for years to come.
Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst recorded a podcast to talk about what the Cousins-to-New-Orleans trade means, and both certainly sound like they thought the Lakers had a legitimate shot.
WINDHORST: The Lakers couldn’t offer their first round pick. I wonder if the Lakers could’ve traded their first round pick, if DeMarcus Cousins would be a Laker right now. I guess theoretically they could, and say if it fell in the top three. But if you trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Lakers, regardless of how you think of him as a player, they’re probably not going to be in the top three.
So the Nash trade comes back to bite the Lakers yet again.
LOWE: The return suggests that they (the Lakers) would not have done that deal. Period. Point blank. We could go through the list of theoretical trades that were better than this for Sacramento and I would say probably 26 teams could’ve beaten this offer.
I think the Lakers were actually optimistic that Luke Walton could’ve made it work with DeMarcus. And they are a little bit nervous that they don’t have a star amongst their young core and were willing to roll the dice to a degree, and clearly, according to Ramona Shelburne and everything I’ve heard, that degree did not include trading Brandon Ingram. I think if the offer had gotten down to Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, that’s the kind of offer the Lakers would have done. And maybe that’s better, maybe that’s worse but that’s what we’re talking about.
WINDHORST: If they had their pick, I kind of think DeMarcus Cousins would be a Laker.
So basically, the Lakers’ tenuous grip on their pick this year probably ultimately cost them DeMarcus Cousins. Even still, though, it’s important to point out just how high Vivek Ranadive is on Buddy Hield, whom he compared to Stephen Curry because of course he did.
The deal Lowe mentioned would have been a home run for the Lakers, even while it might have hurt to trade away guys like Randle and Clarkson, who’ve both worked their tails off the become the players they are now.
It’s also worth reminding everyone what trading away three young pieces for Cousins, who is due to hit free agency at the end of next year would be quite a gamble, regardless of how you feel about any of the names mentioned as potential parts of the deal.
The return Sacramento got for Cousins reflects not only where his reputation around the league currently sits, but also the risk involved in employing someone who previously had no prior experience at the job they were hired for.