Lakers Free Agency Targets: Healthy DeMarcus Cousins A Fall Back Plan?

Demarcus Cousins Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had the best track record in free agency over the past few years. With the one massive exception of landing LeBron James last offseason, the Lakers have been relatively ineffective at luring in top tier talent. Despite being linked to big names like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler early on, the Lakers need to have a contingency plan in place in the event they strike out on top talent once again.

Enter Demarcus Cousins. The All-Star center is coming off a nasty Achilles injury followed by an unfortunate quad injury earlier in the playoffs, making him a prime candidate to potentially buy low on a one-year prove it type deal. When at his best, Cousins is a surefire max contract player and has shown flashes of his old self in his limited role with the Warriors.

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Lakers Free Agency Targets: Healthy Demarcus Cousins A Fall Back Plan?

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The Lakers are desperate for a competent big man and Cousins looks to be a great fit. While not the athletic rim-roller that McGee was last season, Cousins is an extremely crafty finisher down low, an excellent rebounder, and can step back and knock down the deep ball from time to time. His versatile skill set should fit in nicely alongside James and the rest of the young Laker core.

While Cousins was able to return to action for the NBA Finals after his quad injury, that should likely keep him from hitting the open market and landing a massive long term deal. Still, he should command a decent chunk of change and something that is considerably higher than the $5 million mid-level exception he currently is playing for. The Warriors won’t have the money to bring Cousins back and as a result, he is almost guaranteed to be suiting up for another team next season.

Lakers Top Free Agency Targets Updates

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While Cousins might make for a good fall-back plan, the Lakers’ first priority in free agency seems to be one of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmy Butler. All three players have an option for an extra year but can make considerably more money by opting out and hitting the open market. While initially Irving was expected to re-sign with the Celtics, recent reports indicate that Irving’s top two choices are the Brooklyn Nets and Lakers.

Meanwhile, Kawhi is still playing in the NBA Finals and unlikely to start contemplating any sort of decision until the series is over. Out of the three free agents the Lakers are targeting, Leonard is by far the most unpredictable, yet likely fits in best with the Lakers’ current roster build.

Butler is set to be offered the max contract by the Philadelphia 76ers according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. However, Butler’s role on the Sixers was much smaller than the two-way star has been accustomed to and the ability to start fresh and be one of the offensive focal points alongside an elite playmaker like LeBron James could be very enticing.

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