Despite getting close to filling out their 15-man roster by signing Sterling Brown to a 10-day contract, the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly not done looking at possible roster additions on the free agency market. According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, the team will bring in former center DeMarcus Cousins for a workout on Friday.
Cousins, an 11-year veteran, was cut by the Lakers in 2020 (after not playing a single game for them following an offseason ACL injury) to make room for the team to sign Markieff Morris, and has played for the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets over the two seasons since then. Of his last three stops, the only one where he didn’t have a negative net rating was during his 17-game stint in Milwaukee.
Here is what Haynes wrote about the workout for Bleacher Report when he originally reported that it would be coming.
He has been working out six days a week in Las Vegas. The free-agent center hopes to impress a Lakers franchise in evaluation mode. As of Jan. 5, teams are now allowed to sign players to 10-day contracts.
Cousins played for the Bucks last season during Lakers head coach Darvin Ham’s time as an assistant there, and Ham was reportedly a big part of recruiting the big man to Milwaukee at that time. The Bucks later cut him to avoid having to guarantee his contract for the rest of the season, and he finished the season (and playoffs) in Denver, remaining unsigned by any other NBA team until now. He is also obviously familiar with LeBron James from his prior Lakers stint, and Anthony Davis from both that season and their time together on the New Orleans Pelicans.
There is no easy way to segue to this point or out of it in a basketball rumor story. However, it is still important that we mention that during his first stint with the Lakers, Cousins had misdemeanor domestic violence charges filed against him by his former girlfriend after allegedly threatening to kill her during a phone call. The charges were later dropped. Given that the Lakers kept Cousins throughout that saga and have demonstrated a disappointing pattern of interest in signing players with allegations of violence or threats towards women in their past, it is unlikely that would serve as an impediment to this front office in adding him. It is still worth acknowledging.
If the Lakers were going to sign Cousins, it is unclear how they would do so right now. With Brown set to take their final roster spot, the team does not currently have room to add him, and right now there are no other natural candidates (beyond, obviously, Brown) to be cut to make room for him. Fellow center Damian Jones has fallen completely out of the Lakers’ rotation, but he has a player option for next year, and so the Lakers would be stuck with that on their cap if they were to cut him. Of the other centers on the team, Thomas Bryant and Wenyen Gabriel, the former has been one of their most effective offseason signings, and the latter just had his contract guaranteed for the rest of the year. The Lakers have no other non-guaranteed contracts on their roster, so if they wanted to add Cousins, they would have to either:
- Wait until Brown’s 10-day expires or cut him.
- Cut a player on a guaranteed contract and be forced to pay for someone who isn’t playing for them, a route that seems unlikely given how much this team has penny-pinched in recent years.
- Make an uneven trade at the deadline to free up a roster spot.
It’s unknown if Cousins will even look worth signing in his workout, however, so all of that is a ways off. For now, file this away as due diligence from the front office, or even just a possible favor to Cousins or his agency — who also reps Russell Westbrook — or even just something Davis, James or Ham want them to do for their former teammate/player, respectively.
This breaking news story may be updated as it continues to develop. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.