DeMarcus Cousins didn’t get to contribute to the Lakers on the floor during their run to the 2019-20 NBA championship, and he wasn’t even on the roster at the end of the season. He won’t be helping with their title defense, either, as according to multiple reports, he’s set to sign with the Houston Rockets in free agency:
Source: DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockets.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 23, 2020
Cousins tore his ACL before the start of the 2019-20 season, and as a result he never played a single game for the Lakers before being cut so the team could add Markieff Morris after the buyout deadline. The Lakers clearly enjoyed having him around, but in the end, they needed someone who could contribute on the court.
Still, they remained committed to each other, with the team fighting to let Cousins continue to rehab with them after he was waived, and Cousins rebuffing other teams who wanted to sign him for the bubble. It seemed like a reunion was in the cards at some point.
While going through rehab, Cousins said his “mindset is different” now, and that he was working hard to return to the league and “get what’s mine.” However, his agent recently said that Cousins may not be ready health-wise for the start of the NBA season, and even if he is, that’s hardly an encouraging update that it was even borderline that he might not be ready to go well over a year after his original injury. At his size and with his injury history — this was his third serious injury in the same leg in the same number of years — that is concerning. If the Lakers didn’t want to bring him back, well, it’s fair to guess they had better medical knowledge about his situation than anyone else, especially if they passed on him while still looking for another center.
So as much as LeBron James and Anthony Davis had hoped that Cousins could help them capture a championship last season and prove he could contribute to a winner, that didn’t happen. It’s hardly surprising, given everything that’s happened since, that both sides opted to go their separate ways, washing their hands of a doomed experiment that never got off the ground.
This developing story will update with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.