The Lakers are itching to make a move ahead of the NBA trade deadline as the bloom is already off the rose when it comes to Magic Johnson running the franchise.
The Lakers have done absolutely nothing this season to entice the likes of LeBron James and Paul George to come to Southern California this summer as they sit it last place in the Western Conference with a record of 11-25. The benefit of being so bad typically comes with a lottery pick, but that pick is likely going to the Lakers’ chief rival, the Boston Celtics, in this year’s draft.
If anyone can pull off a “worst to first” scenario in the NBA, it is LeBron – but Magic absolutely did not see these types of struggles coming this season. Hope that LeBron just REALLY likes Los Angeles is the Lakers’ ultimate plan this summer, but before they pitch No. 23 on closing out his career in Los Angeles – Magic is prepared to do something – ANYTHING – to put some juice back into his franchise.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus said on the LakersNation Podcast last week that the Lakers will at least put in calls in an effort to obtain George and New Orleans’ big man DeMarcus Cousins in the next few weeks.
“Plan A for the Lakers is still LeBron James,” PIncus said. “Having said that, at the deadline, the Lakers have two targets: Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins. I think George is more of a long shot since the Thunder seem to have figured things out over the last 10 games. However, the Pelicans are a different story because they’re just above .500. If they don’t climb the standings, they will be open to move Cousins.”
The issue here is that the Pelicans would have to go on a major downward spiral in the next few weeks for GM Dell Demps to consider trading away Cousins. New Orleans would be happy to simply make the postseason and be first round fodder for the Warriors.
“I don’t see them moving Cousins because one: They’re trying to become a playoff team. They feel their best advantage against any team – whether it’s the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, etc. – is that they have two of the premier big men in the league,” Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto said on TheHoopsHype Podcast. “In a league where you see a lot of small ball play, DeMarcus Cousins – that’s their best advantage … I really don’t see DeMarcus Cousins getting moved.”
The other issues with the Lakers going after Cousins is the cost and the risk that he would go elsewhere this summer. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson likely aren’t enough to entice Demps and the Pelicans. Brandon Ingram would need to be on the table, and all indications are that he still is off limits.
Another issue is the real risk that Cousins would turn down a Lakers offer and sign with the Washington Wizards this summer. Cousins and John Wall have consistently hinted at joining forces soon, and the Wizards are the proverbial “one player away” from being a legit NBA Finals contender.