After battling his way back from an Achilles’ injury followed by a torn quad, this offseason was the first time in nearly two years that things had been looking promising for DeMarcus Cousins. Looking to be healthy and in the best shape of his life, Cousins finally had a full offseason at his disposal to properly prepare himself for a comeback tour.
Unfortunately, those plans came crashing down when it was announced earlier today that Cousins tore his ACL training in Las Vegas. Once again on the shelf for the foreseeable future, the future of DeMarcus Cousins is now clouded in uncertainty.
Demarcus Cousins ACL Injury: Possible Replacements for Lakers’ Center
As terrible of a situation as it is to lose Cousins for the better part – if not likely the whole – season, the Lakers find themselves now in desperate need of another big man. JaVale McGee showed he could adequately fill the role of starting Center last season before coming down with pneumonia, allowing the Lakers to still play a true center alongside Anthony Davis. However, the Lakers don’t have any other centers – or players capable of playing big minutes at center – on their roster. Thankfully, there still look to be some serviceable options available on the free-agent market.
*Dwight Howard COULD be a possible buyout option – if the Lakers REALLY want to try going down that road again
Despite getting up there in age, Nene showed he could still give a team quality minutes last year with the Rockets. At this point in free agency, the Lakers are unlikely to find any diamonds in the rough and should be looking to add a consistent and reliable interior presence – something that Nene brings to the table.
While he won’t blow you away anywhere, Nene is known for outworking his opponents and still has some decent bounce left despite heading into his 18th season in the NBA. While there are some younger options available with a bit more upside, you know what you’re getting in Nene and if he can give the Lakers 15 decent minutes a night off the bench, that should be more than enough to justify his signing.
Deyonta Davis was recently released by the Hawks and comes as a late addition to the free agency pool. Davis is a young big man with excellent athleticism that has shown flashes of being a high level rim protector in limited minutes. He wouldn’t be asked to take on a very large role with the Lakers and could be a decent option to match the up-tempo pace the Lakers look poised to play at.
Davis allows the Lakers to still have a lob threat and paint protector on the floor when McGee sits and while not nearly as refined in either category as McGee, would at least help plug a glaring need and allow other members of the rotation to not be pulled out of position to fill the hole Cousins left.
Faried is cut from a similar cloth as Nene in that he isn’t going to excel in any one category more than he is just going to go out and outwork his opponents. Never one to post gaudy stat lines, Faried is more than content doing the little things to help his team that don’t show up in the box score. Known for his ferocious energy, the Lakers could do much worse than a flexible high-energy power forward/center they can deploy off the bench.
Demarcus Cousins Return Timeline Unclear
ACL tears are tricky injuries to put a timetable on and while most players are cleared to return to basketball activities after 6-8 months, it often takes considerably longer to build back the necessary strength and confidence. Per ESPN’s Kevin Pelton:
“In the past five years, no player has come back from an ACL tear in shorter than 11 months. The past two players to suffer ACL injuries in August (Dante Exum in 2015 and Brandon Knight in 2017) didn’t return until training camp the following year.”
So while we don’t have a timeline just yet, it seems highly unlikely that Boogie suits up at all for the Lakers this season.