DeMarcus Cousins was a name frequently brought up when speculating over players the Lakers could sign if Dwight Howard or one of their other big men decided to skip the NBA restart at Disney World, but it sounds like he isn’t going to make himself an option for them (or any other team).
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Cousins has decided to sit out the rest of the year to focus on getting healthy:
Sources: Multiple teams have expressed interest in DeMarcus Cousins but have been told the four-time All-Star will sit out the resumed season and continue rehab for full return in 2020-21.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2020
Lakers forward Jared Dudley quickly offered support for his former teammate’s decision:
Smart move! Can’t wait to see Boogie with a year and half rehab goin into training camp next year! https://t.co/3OTlHqNrZE
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) June 23, 2020
Cousins tore his ACL on Aug. 15, 2019, and was cut by the Lakers after the trade deadline to make room for Markieff Morris on the roster, while still being allowed to rehab around the team. But despite Washington Wizards guard John Wall lobbying his team to go after his former Kentucky teammate, and anonymous executives saying they could see the Lakers signing him, the talk that Cousins would return this year just never made a whole lot of sense.
The date of the NBA’s proposed restart (July 30) would mean that things were beginning again less than a year after Cousins had torn his ACL, and even with that much time, most athletes usually don’t hit the ground running. Cousins risking an early return when he likely hasn’t been able to rehab the same way players normally do because of the current pandemic restricting access to NBA facilities over the last several months, all while the NBA’s rushed restart will likely lead to more injuries after he’s had three successive injuries in the same leg just never made very much sense.
Such talk is now mercifully being put to bed, although this is likely not the last time Cousins will be connected to the Lakers. Dudley’s tweet above is sure to raise some eyebrows, and it’s always been speculated that Cousins would come back and give the Lakers thing another shot, especially after the team continued to let him rehab at their facilities even after cutting him. This may be the end of his first season is the Lakers’ stratosphere, but it may not be the end of his purple and gold journey. For now, though, those discussions will have to be put on hold, at least until free agency begins. If the Lakers need an extra big man, they’ll have to look elsewhere.