Lakers Break Silence on Roster Shakeup After Hosting Workouts

Darvin Ham

Getty Images Darvin Ham of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers worked out both Meyers Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins on Friday and head coach Darvin Ham thought both big men looked “great” in their auditions.

The Lakers are in search of big man help with Anthony Davis still out nursing a serious foot injury. His timeline for a return is still uncertain.

Cousins and Meyers are both offensive-minded players who could ink a 10-day deal with the Lakers as the team assesses their long-term fit.

Ham didn’t hint that anything is imminent but liked what he saw during the workouts.

“They both looked great,” Ham said after practice Saturday. “Whether or not we’re able to do something with them is a different story. But we’re constantly trying to kick the tires on different scenarios.”

The Lakers have already signed one player to a 10-day deal in Sterling Brown. He hasn’t scored with the Lakers, averaging 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 6.0 minutes in four appearances. Brown’s contract expires on Sunday night. The Lakers could sign Brown to one more 10-day deal but Ham wasn’t willing to say how it will play out.

“It depends on our health status and what we feel comfortable doing and making as a next step,” Ham said.

So could Cousins or Meyers be next on the 10-day radar for the Lakers?

“We’ll see,” Ham said. “We want to do our due diligence and make sure we know they’ve been in front of us and we’ve seen them so we can make a well-informed decision.”

Both Meyers and Cousins Come With Some Baggage

Meyers would provide an interesting option as a stretch-5 for the Lakers but does come with some baggage.

It’s been nearly two years since Leonard has played in an NBA game. He was suspended indefinitely by the Heat during 2020-21 season for using an anti-Semitic slur during a Twitch live stream and has spent the last two years rehabbing from shoulder and ankle surgeries.

Cousins has a reputation as being a bit of a hothead over his career but does have experience within the Lakers franchise. He signed with the team in 2019 but never played a game, tearing his ACL prior to training camp. The Lakers went on to win the title in the bubble and awarded Cousins a ring.

Cousins saw some time with the Nuggets last season, playing in 31 games. He averaged 8.9 points on 45.6% shooting and 5.5 rebounds. He still feels like he can make an impact if he lands on a roster.

“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports in October. “Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked.”

LeBron James Adamant He Has ‘Trust’ in Teammates

The Lakers have been hit hard by injuries this season, with Davis, Austin Reaves, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV all sidelined. Much of the load has fallen on LeBron James, who has produced at an incredible level, averaging 32.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists since the new year.

James admitted after the Lakers’ double-overtime loss to the Mavericks that the shifting rotations haven’t been easy to deal with. However, he was adamant he has trust in whoever is on the floor with him.

“It’s not about trust, because we have trust with whoever is on the floor. But at the end of the day, teams have closing lineups. And we got so many guys that are in and out of the lineup and right now we got a lot of guys that are banged up,” James said. “So, it’s almost like, who is in a good rhythm that night is going to be probably on the floor along with myself and Russ.”

As of January 14th, the Lakers are the 13th seed in the Western Conference but are still well within striking distance of a postseason berth. Just two games separate them from a spot in the top eight in the West.

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