By now news of the situation involving DeMarcus Cousins has spread like wildfire, prompting responses from both the injured big man’s team as well as the NBA league office. If you aren’t caught up, take a look here to get yourself up to speed.
Both the Lakers and NBA league office offered similarly hollow statements regarding the situation. That said, this is to be expected given the early nature of the allegations towards Cousins and the unfounded validity of any evidence at this time. Expect the Lakers and NBA to react accordingly as details come to light but don’t expect either to rush into a decision before all the facts of the situation are clearly able to be reviewed.
Either way, Cousins won’t be playing for the Lakers anytime soon – if ever. After suffering a torn ACL and subsequently being ruled out essentially all of next season, Cousins’ contract with the Lakers is up this offseason making him a free agent once again.
Just before the entire situation broke, the Lakers brought back Dwight Howard to help fill the void left by Cousins’ injury. The Lakers opted against waiving Cousins to make room and instead opted to cut ties with rookie big man (and Exhibit 10 player) Aric Holman. Holman looked strong at times in Summer League and while an intriguing stretch big prospect, likely wouldn’t have been capable of either making the team or even playing himself into a position to be called up from the G-League squad in case of injury.
Howard is said to be in some of the best shape of his life with Lakers executives heaping exceptionally high praise on the aging superstar. Assuming Howard’s health holds up – which history tells us that it typically does – he could be in line for an excellent season on the Lakers with the chance to play himself into either a platoon or even potentially an outright starting role at center.
While Cousins’ ability to knock down the deep ball and stretch a defense will be sorely missed, Howard steps in as another big body capable of doing battle with elite centers like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. From a defensive standpoint, a healthy and focused Howard could actually be an upgrade over Cousins – though Cousins holds an edge in nearly every offensive category with the exception of maybe throwing down thunderous dunks – especially in the playmaking department.
That said, nobody knows exactly which Howard the Lakers will wind up getting. For as big of a question mark as Cousins was coming off his numerous injuries, Howard’s status might be even more uncertain. Thankfully, the Lakers were able to ink him on a non-guaranteed deal which should help make it considerably easier to cut ties at any point in time should things not go according to plan.