DeMarcus Cousins went to the Warriors for the shockingly low price of the taxpayer mid-level exception, $5.3 million, for just one season. That led to fans of a lot of teams saying “why didn’t we try to get him at that price?” Because he wouldn’t come to your team at that price — the Warriors offered the chance to rehab his Achilles, his reputation, and maybe win a ring at that price. What other team could offer all that at that price?
Maybe the Lakers. However, Los Angeles chose not to go that direction.
Why? Because Los Angeles couldn’t wait until mid-season when Cousins would be healthy and ready to go, sources told Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Cousins says he plans to be ready by the start of the NBA season, and he is putting in the work. However, history suggests Christmas would be the soonest we will see him. The Warriors can afford to be patient.
If the Lakers want to be competitive fast they have done a poor job of building the rest of that roster around LeBron James. Forget the personality challenges, the Lakers’ roster does not have near enough shooting. If LeBron has the ball in the half-court every team will help off Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball (Ball is a better catch-and-shoot guy than some think, but when contested his jumper is still an issue). Lance Stephenson shot 28.9 percent from three last season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma are their floor spacers, but this is a team that is going to see opponents pack the paint.
The Lakers were a solid defensive team last season (12th in the NBA) and LeBron can help with that when focused on that end. However, Rondo and Stephenson do not help much there, nor is McGree much of a rim protector.
The Lakers are going to be better next season, a competitive team, a playoff team with this roster, probably around 50 wins. But in the West, that likely lands them a four or five seed, maybe they can get up to third, but that’s betting a lot on improvement from Ball/Kuzma/Brandon Ingram to go with LeBron.
Was all that worth not getting Boogie?
What the Lakers have done is remained flexible, to go after stars via trade during the season or free agency next season. They are in position to build a contender.