Follow their electrifying 114-112 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that they had signed Markieff Morris, who cleared waivers earlier in the day. Consequently, DeMarcus Cousins was officially waived on Sunday.
The Lakers signed Cousins to a one-year contract worth slightly more than the veteran’s minimum ($3.5 million) last summer with the hope that he’d start to resemble the All-NBA center he was before he ruptured his Achilles tendon two years ago. Unfortunately, neither the Lakers or Cousins got see their dreams come to fruition, as Cousins tore his ACL during a scrimmage in August.
With Cousins expected to miss the remainder of the season, the Lakers had a fairly simple choice — at least from a business perspective — when they had to waive someone to make room for Morris. However, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers have expressed interest in bringing Cousins back this summer, and that interest is apparently mutual:
Per league rules, he can continue his rehab with the Lakers, at their practice facility, but he can’t fly on the team plane or sit on the bench once he’s waived. But the Lakers could re-sign him this summer, something both sides have expressed interest in pursuing, sources said.
The Lakers won’t have Cousins’ bird rights next summer because they waived him, but it’s hard to imagine there will be a market outside of the veteran’s minimum for a player coming fresh off of not one, but two injuries that are considered career-enders. That’s not to mention the serious quad injury he suffered in April of last year.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Cousins returns to his All-Star form next season, but at the very least, he’s a good contingency plan for if a team offers Dwight Howard more than what the Lakers are willing to pay him next summer, or if JaVale McGee opts out of his contract. If Cousins is as good as he expects himself to be, the Lakers can make him a lucrative offer the following summer using his bird rights.