The Los Angeles Lakers are reeling after losing both LeBron James and Anthony Davis to serious injuries and it’s a situation that could give the defending champions extra incentive to get busy at the trade deadline or in the buyout market.
While many are waiting for a big splash from the Lakers, a familiar face could come back into play as things progress, with head coach Frank Vogel keeping the door open on big man Damian Jones returning.
The Lakers decided not to re-sign Jones for the rest of the season on Sunday after his second 10-day contract expired. That could change depending on what kind of roster moves are made in the coming weeks by the Lakers front office.
“There’s a window of time here where we’re approaching the trade deadline and the buyout market and we’re just gonna maintain our flexibility ahead of this stretch to see what’s ahead of us,” Vogel told reporters on Sunday. “But DJ did a good job for us and the door’s not closed.”
Lakers Had Time to Analyze Damian Jones
Jones drew six starts during his time in the purple and gold, giving the Lakers plenty of time to see what he could give them. Jones averaged 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and nearly a block per game. He was also hyper-effective from the field, hitting 16-17 of the shots he took as a member of the Lakers.
Vogel was complimentary of Jones during his time with LA, recognizing he gave the Lakers something they did not previously have at the position between Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell.
“He brings great energy. He’s a pogo stick around the basket so he gives us dynamic verticality with his lob-catching ability offensively and defensively he’s really picked up what we’re asking him to do in our pick-and-roll defense and our coverages,” Vogel told reporters over the weekend. “He provides some length at the basket from a shot-blocking standpoint. He’s played well for us.”
Lakers Have Been Linked to Multiple Names
Parting ways with Jones — for now, at least — is more of a business decision than anything for the Lakers. With the March 25 trade deadline and buyout market approaching, having two roster spots will be key for LA as they look to improve, especially with James and Davis out for an indefinite about of time.
“Obviously when you have two key guys that are gonna be out you look at the trade market differently and obviously the buyout market differently,” Vogel told reporters prior to Sunday’s loss to the Suns. “So those are conversations that will be had in the coming days.”
The Lakers have been linked to Andre Drummond, Myles Turner, LaMarcus Aldridge and Hassan Whiteside as either trade or buyout targets. There’s also the possibility that the Lakers could reunite with another one of their former big men in DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins spent last year with the Lakers, but never played a game due to a torn ACL. Cousins was finally healthy this season after a series of lower-body injuries and inked a prove-it deal for the veteran’s minimum with the Rockets. He’s played in 25 games with 11 starts, averaging 20.2 minutes per game. He scored 9.6 points per contest with 7.6 rebounds while hitting at a 33.6% clip from beyond the arc. The Rockets released Cousins last month but he has not drawn much interest as a free agent.