Los Angeles Lakers: What’s next for DeMarcus Cousins?

NBA Golden State Warriors DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NBA Golden State Warriors DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have moved on from DeMarcus Cousins, we explore what could be next for the big man

As we all know, the injury bug has been around DeMarcus Cousins for the past couple of years now. Cousins’ game has really taken a toll over the past couple of seasons and he hasn’t had the ability to showcase his talent to the teams that he has joined.

This past Friday night was a witness to that as we saw Cousins get waived by the Los Angeles Lakers, forcing him once again to not be apart of an NBA roster.

Cousins was finally getting another opportunity to prove himself on the Lakers. With much anticipation to be fully healthy this season, many looked for the big man to be one of the top-scoring options on the Lakers offense. All of that turned upside down once Cousins tore his ACL while training in the summer. Which forced the Lakers to think quickly and sign Dwight Howard shortly after.

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After Cousins initially came back from his torn Achilles’ tendon a season ago, he may have not been the same prior to the injury but many believed that he was still a dominant force for other bigs when he was healthy for Golden State. In his 30 games played with the Bay Area, Cousins averaged 16.3 points per game and grabbed 8.2 rebounds to add on to the stats.

With a team full of dominant players, Cousins had the simple role of being the dominant force down low to protect the rim. And everything else would come easy for him after that.

Both Cousins and Golden State anticipated his sold regular season to carry into the playoffs. A team that was looking to three-peat, adding another all-star would have been just the icing on the cake to seal the deal. But that dream faded once Cousins went down with a quad injury in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs, which caused him to be out until the Warriors fifth Finals appearance.

When Cousins returned to the lineup, it was obvious that he wasn’t healthy. He was slow getting up and down the floor. He also was disengaged at times when the Warriors were trying to execute on the floor. Even in his Game 2 performance where he had 11 and 10, Cousins was obviously out of shape and couldn’t produce the way Golden State wanted to.

But the thing was that Golden State needed all the body’s that they could have on the floor. Kevin Durant was out almost the entire series and even Klay Thompson went down with an injury which caused him to miss Game 3. Unfortunately, Cousins wasn’t able to contribute enough as the Warriors fell short of three-peating after losing to the Toronto Raptors in six games.

After the season, it was unlikely that Cousins was going to be signed again to another team. Although his numbers looked decent in his only season in Golden State, he was a liability at times especially on the defensive end of the floor. The injuries were slowing him down and his play was forgettable during the finals series.

During the offseason, Cousins was forced to play the waiting game as he waited for a team to give him a call. Many could tell deep down that Cousins believed that he could still produce for any team and that when healthy he was the best big man in the game. So after the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis via trade, it was only right that he would be a leading factor in reuniting with his former teammate. And shortly thereafter, Cousins was a Los Angeles Laker.

Cousins being signed to LA was an interesting move made by Rob Pelinka. The team was coming off of a 37-45 record missing the playoffs in LeBron’s first season. So there was no question that the team was wanting to make the necessary moves to make the Lakers contenders again.

Cousins was looking forward to playing right next to AD in the frontcourt. Both big men who can space the floor, shoot, and pass efficiently was supposed to make the Lakers dangerous inside and give opponents problems. Well, that vision came to an end when Cousins was hit by the injury bug once again and tore his ACL in the summer.

It’s unfortunate for a player like Cousins to continue to suffer through injuries. Especially since they have all been back to back injuries as well. After having surgery, it was well known that Cousins would more likely miss the entire season rehabbing the knee; which made the Lakers have to make a move quickly to temporarily replace their big man.

The Lakers went on to sign Dwight Howard in late August. Howard was one who had a minor similarity to Cousins’ situation. Although he never dealt with injuries as serious as Cousins, it has still taken time for him to return to being the dominant big man he once was early in his career. And looking at the Lakers as his possible final chance to play the game he loves, Howard made sure to work twice as hard to be a great contributor to the team and be a force under the basket.

Since the start of the season, Howard has been a monster for the Lakers’ frontcourt playing alongside Anthony Davis and Javale McGee. His numbers may not be impressive to most people, but he has been a pest on the defensive end blocking shots and getting opportunities protecting the paint. He brings much energy on the defensive end that Cousins may have not been able to provide due to his lack of athleticism vs Howard.

With LeBron and AD being the x-factor for the Lakers, they have been grateful to count on Dwight throughout the year as he has been redeeming himself reminding the world that he’s still got it.

While Howard has been having a solid season, Cousins has still been recovering from his gruesome knee injury trying to become his old self again. He has recently been showing many signs of movement and explosiveness as he works out at practice and before the games. The rumor was that Cousins would possibly be back by the time the playoffs roll around. And it’s for sure that no one else was more excited than Cousins. But that all changed when some big news came about Friday afternoon.

The Lakers would waive DeMarcus Cousins after signing Markieff Morris after his buyout with Detroit. Morris was a great pickup for the Lakers due to his floor spacing and would be a great player alongside LeBron, AD and others. The main reason behind this pickup is because the Lakers needed healthy bodies as well and Cousins was not ready to see the NBA floor as of yet which is unfortunate.

Somewhat like Howard, this may have been Cousins’ last chance to prove himself with an NBA team. Now that he has been waived, the future of his career may be in jeopardy. With someone like Cousins’s skill set who can be a threat on the offensive end, it is up to how he recovers from this nasty injury to determine where he goes from here.

It is best for Cousins to continue to train and recover properly so that he can be 100 percent ready to play. He has already been through many battles over the past couple years so there’s no reason to stop now. He believes that when healthy he is the best big man in the game. So it is his job to make sure he is fully healthy and ready by the time he gets to see the NBA floor again.

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DeMarcus Cousins will have a long summer ahead of him. It is up to him and his trainers to get him back on the right track to become healthy once again. He won’t be the all-star that he once was in the past but he still has the ability to help a contender push for a championship. The NBA world cannot wait to see what will be in store for Cousins going forward.