Five Options For the Lakers After DeMarcus Cousins Knee Injury
DeMarcus Cousins may have torn his ACL while working out in Las Vegas. While the diagnosis has yet to be officially confirmed, it seems likely Boogie will miss the entire 2019-20 season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
So, now what? Well, the Lakers actually have some options as they look to find a replacement for their presumed starting center. It’s worth noting, LA could opt to move forward with the roster as it stands, then hope the buyout market shakes a good player loose. But this piece assumes they’ll make a move now.
Here’s our look at five potential targets.
In 25 games for the Houston Rockets during the 2018-19 season, Kenneth Faried averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Somehow, Faried is still just 29 years old, so he has some legs left. He’s always played like a bulldog, but had been in steady decline since the 2015-16 season. If signed he could combine with JaVale McGee to help Anthony Davis get some minutes away from the center spot.
I know, I know. It seems ridiculous for a team looking to compete for a title to be considering Joakim Noah as a free agent addition, but hear me out. Noah was actually really good in the 42 games he played with the Memphis Grizzlies last year. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes per game. Not eye-popping numbers by any means, but reflective of a solid rotation piece.
At 34, Noah isn’t going to replicate anything close to what Cousins could do for the Lakers. But he still plays excellent defense when he’s engaged and is coming off his best season since the 2014-15 campaign. As a low-cost fill-in, the Lakers could do worse.
After making 51 appearances for the Philadelphia 76ers last season, Amir Johnson is a free agent. He was pushed from the rotation in Philly because of his odd fit with the surrounding roster. That said, the 32-year-old has always been lauded as an intelligent player who does a lot of good things on a basketball court. The problem is, he doesn’t have one standout skill.
Johnson averaged just 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game during the 2018-19 season. That doesn’t scream “Sign me!” That said, he’d be a solid addition to any NBA roster because of his approach to the game. He also happens to be a Los Angeles native.
The Los Angeles Clippers gave Marcin Gortat 43 starts last season, and while the 35-year-old was clearly in decline, he can still get minutes in the NBA. Though he’s clearly not the player he was a few years ago, Gortat averaged 5.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.5 blocks in just 16.0 minutes per game. He also hit 53.2 percent of his shots from the field and made 72.9 percent of his free throws.
The Lakers aren’t going to find an unsigned All-Star here, so adding someone with Gortat’s experience might be the way to go.
This is a bit of a long-shot but hear me out. Leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft, the Lakers loved the upside Marquese Chriss possessed. Unfortunately for him, the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Rockets all failed to unlock it.
Chriss has seen his numbers and playing time diminish in each of his first three seasons, but at 6’10” and 240 pounds with outstanding athleticism, he’s still a ball of potential. He finished the 2018-19 season averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game for the Cavs. If the Lakers are aiming for big upside, he might be the play.