The Los Angeles Lakers are adding DeMarcus Cousins on a one-year contract worth a reported $3.5 million, which is more than a veteran’s minimum deal but still probably a bargain for the chance to bet on a former All-Star in the second year of recovery from an Achilles injury.
Part of the reason the Lakers were able to get Cousins for that number was obviously because his market wasn’t flush with suitors, but it sounds like the Lakers also were able to make a compelling pitch to him, led by newly acquired star forward Anthony Davis, Cousins’ former teammate in New Orleans:
The Miami Heat had interest in Cousins, but several Lakers players -- including Anthony Davis -- helped convince him on joining LA, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/U2fgWbb8PL— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
Anthony Davis’s pitch to DeMarcus Cousins, per source, was short and to the point-let’s win it all. Their relationship in New Orleans was very solid, but Cousins’s achilles’ injury and the Pels’ lack of interest re-signing him ended things prematurely.— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) July 6, 2019
Cousins and Davis were an incredible frontcourt pairing in New Orleans, but as Sabreena noted in her initial story on the former’s signing, it’s fair to wonder if that version of Cousins will ever be back.
Still, the second year back after an Achilles tear is usually when players begin to regain some semblance of their former level of play, so while it’s not clear how good Cousins can be, he does have a chance to massively outperform his contract, something Davis should get a bit of credit for if he indeed recruited him to Los Angeles.
The other thing to note here is that Davis really is putting his money where his mouth is when he says he came to the Lakers because he wants to win. It’s become fashionable on the internet to mock Davis for that assertion because of how well the New Orleans Pelicans are rebounding with a new executive, but can you really blame Davis for losing faith in an organization that failed him time and time again for his entire career? Those improvements were just too little, too late after he had decided that his best chance to maximize his career was with LeBron James on the Lakers.
You can talk about Zion Williamson, or David Griffin’s competency as an executive, but the bottom line is that stuff like that isn’t necessarily what matters to a lot of stars, as we’ve seen over and over throughout NBA history. Williamson (and to a lesser degree, Griffin) may be great, but stars want to play with other fully developed stars, not rookies, and Davis joined one on a team that had a chance at max cap space to lure a third star.
That didn’t work out, but Davis still waived his trade kicker, a decision he credited to wanting to win, and the fact that the Lakers basically used the exact amount of money that Davis gave them to sign his friend he was recruiting (Cousins) shows that regardless of if that move works out, Davis really is all-in towards helping this team compete for a championship.
The Lakers won’t be the favorites for the title entering the year, and not signing Leonard is obviously a blow to their chances overall since he signed with a team that’s now a fellow Pacific Division powerhouse, but between recruiting Cousins on a cheap deal and (essentially) giving the Lakers the money to sign him out of his own pocket, it’s impossible to argue that Davis hasn’t done everything within his power to give his new team a chance to contend. Now it’s time to see if the Lakers can take advantage of his contributions and set him up for success in a way his former team never truly did.
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