Cousins’ free agency has been a subject of intrigue in the NBA while everyone waited for Kawhi Leonard’s league-altering decision. The twice All-NBA big man joined the Golden State Warriors for the mid-level exception in 2018/19 as he recovered from a ruptured Achilles, and the expectation was he would get his payday this offseason.
Instead, Cousins has been made to wait. A torn quadricep in the postseason will have had an impact on Cousins’ market, as will his inconsistent play. With the Warriors, Cousins showed flashes of his former self – notably in Game Two of the NBA Finals – mixed with some struggles on defence.
While he was still on the road to recovery, Cousins posted a 21.4 PER which is only slightly below his career mark of 22.4. This might not be the big contract he hoped for, but he’s landed on a contender alongside his former Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Joining Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee in signing on Saturday after Leonard’s move to the Clippers had been announced, Cousins is another good move from Rob Pelinka as the Lakers look to fill out their roster around James and Davis.
We’ve seen that Davis and Cousins can be a brilliant duo. Cousins’ passing gives another playmaking option when LeBron is either on the bench or being ‘load managed’. While he might not get back to his former self for a while yet – if at all – this is a big upside addition for the Lakers, and adds a major string to their bow.
The defensive concerns are understandable, but with Davis around, Cousins’ match ups can be manipulated to suit. Davis is a superb interior defender, McGee is a good shot blocker – Frank Vogel has options.
On a one-year deal and not much money, Cousins is a massive reward, very low risk signing. The fit with Davis and LeBron is good – this is a near perfect outcome after missing out on Leonard.