When the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly passed on including rookie forward Brandon Ingram in a potential trade for then-Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, the logic behind the move seemed to be pretty simple.
For one, Ingram is one of the Lakers’ most promising young players. For a team that doesn’t have much in the way of assets, the Lakers couldn’t afford to give up too much, and we don’t know what else the Kings were asking for.
The other potential bugaboo was how Cousins, a notoriously challenging locker room presence at times, would fit in on a very young Lakers team with a first year head coach. Could Luke Walton have juggled all of those factors while still trying to get his team to build the right habits?
Walton certainly seems to think so, and he explained why he would’ve been fine with the Lakers acquiring Cousins (note: he does not specifically mention Ingram, so this isn’t him saying he would’ve liked to see him traded) during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast:
“I’m a huge Boogie fan. I know people say he’s crazy, whatever, whatever. I would love to... [Walton trails off, expertly avoiding tampering]. One, I like crazy. I grew up in a chaotic household with my dad and my crazy brothers. I like crazy. Like Draymond Green, he’s one of my favorite players, and when I was interim head coach, he probably cussed me out three times and I enjoyed it. That’s fun to me. I want that type of energy out there.”
Again, Walton doesn’t say anything specific about trading the young core, so this is not necessarily a criticism of them or an indication he wants them gone.
What it does appear to be is a window into Walton’s thought process on coaching. Like many coaches, it seems as though he mostly sees talent, even if it comes in a flawed package, feeling as though he can be the one to get through to those players.
It certainly worked with Draymond Green (other than the whole “repeatedly kicking people in the junk/” thing). Whether or not it could have worked on Cousins is probably a moot point now that he’s in New Orleans, but if he listens to Bill Simmons’ podcasts and decides to leave the Pelicans, Cousins now knows that he might have an ally in Los Angeles.