Would Landing DeMarcus Cousins Make Lakers Title Contenders?
The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been very good. In fact, they’ve been atrocious over the past two years, as they’ve endured the loss of Dwight Howard to free agency and a litany of injuries that have held the likes of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant down.
For all of their history and glory in the Kobe Bryant era, the Lakers haven’t really been relevant over the past five years and last won an NBA title during the 2009-2010 season. Now they’re involved in crazy rumors regarding a potential trade for Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins.
These normally insane rumors beg us to ask ourselves two pretty important questions. First, is acquiring Cousins from the rival Kings even possible? And second, is that a big enough move to launch the Lakers back into championship discussions?
The short answer for both is…probably not.
The Lakers, as currently constructed, have an aging, ineffecient and completely unreliable Kobe Bryant heading into the 2015-16 NBA season apparently on his last legs. In what figures to be his swan song, Bryant and co. could begin the year with 25/1 odds to win the 2016 NBA Finals. Adjusted (logical) odds should put them more along the lines of the Milwaukee Bucks or New York Knicks (100/1), but with Bryant healthy and the team expected to be active in Thursday’s draft and free agency, the oddsmakers are planning ahead.
If we start with those 25/1 odds, it’s fair to assume landing a talent like Cousins could change things for the better. Of course, the Lakers would arguably be mortgaging their future to do so, and would surely have to give up a considerable amount to pull it off.
For the Lakers to land Cousins, they’d surely have to offer last year’s top pick (Julius Randle), this year’s #2 overall selection (which would probably end up being Duke center Jahlil Okafor), a future pick of some kind and possibly even an additional player such as Jordan Clarkson.
That’s a pretty big haul, and considering George Karl doesn’t want to keep Cousins and Cousins himself requested a trade over a month ago, it’s a deal the Kings may want to consider.
So, could the Lakers pull this trade off? Probably not, but it’s possible. Sacramento apparently desires solid veterans in return for Cousins and it’s highly likely they overvalue Cousins (which seems impossible, actually). There is also the rumor that Karl wants to trade Cousins to the Denver Nuggets for a good portion of his former team’s roster.
Thankfully, at least for now, this craziness has been delayed by the Kings ownership flat out denying this as a mere possibility.
In other words, the hype around it is interesting and a mega star like Cousins taking over the Lake Show would definitely be entertaining. But the odds have to be against it happening.
Crazier things have gone down, though. Shaq and Dwight Howard have been traded in the past and Kevin Love just got traded last summer.
That makes us wonder – if Cousins was traded to the Lakers, would it give them enough of a boost for them to seriously think about making a run at a title next season?
Again – probably not, but it’s not impossible. Cousins would give the Lakers their best inside presence since Shaq and with a limitless ceiling, he could absolutely combine with Bryant to get the Lakers back to the playoffs. Of course, with Randle and possibly other parts of the roster gone, one has to wonder where the rest of the “team” resides. The Lakers would still have to shore up their depth, get some shooters and land another borderline star or two.
Trading for DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t guarantee the Lakers a title this year or for any year. It’s only a band-aid unless they can build a quality team. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun to watch, though.
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