Break the Boogie Glass In Case of Emergency

The Lakers are running out of stars to build around LeBron. With Paul George returning to the Thunder and the Kawhi Leonard trade talks grinding on, could DeMarcus Cousins be Magic Johnson’s best free agent available?

Signing Boogie Cousins could be a sweetener for LeBron. In January 2017, James called Boogie, “the best big man in our game.” LeBron’s praise of Cousins came before the New Orleans big man had suffered a major injury, but sources say he remains interested by the idea of playing with Boogie. The Pelicans unrestricted free agent center received a call from the Lakers at the start of free agency and is expected to schedule meetings with the Lakers and Pelicans, The Undefeated’s Marc Spears reported Sunday. Boogie’s fit with James is intriguing, if Cousins returns to form, or near form. Like Chris Bosh and Kevin Love, Cousins can space the floor from 3, and can also play down low. Skinny Love isn’t the bruiser inside like he once was, but Cousins can still toss bodies. James has never played with a big exactly like Cousins—a superior ball handler in the open court to Bosh and Love. Cousins could alleviate the pressure off James as an initiator of the offense and a pick-and-roll ball handler—provided James is willing to give up the rock—while playing at a slower offensive pace, with a physically brutal style of play.

I’m intrigued by the idea of trying to beat the Warriors through skilled size. LeBron is LeBron. In past season, Cousins has been a worthy challenge for Draymond Green. The Lakers would still retain the assets to make a run at Leonard, or the next superstar that becomes available. With George off the table, and the Spurs drawing the Kawhi saga out, Boogie is their best option now.

The nice thing about the new NBA is that every season is temporary. Short contracts are the new normal. James could be sold on the idea of a trial with Cousins, with the possibility of filling the second star seat with a better option in the future. If the Lakers make an offer, league sources expect it to be a shorter-term max contract for either one or two seasons. The Pelicans could also make a two-year offer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Thursday on SportsCenter. But if the Lakers become a legitimate threat to sign Cousins, it’ll be interesting to see if the Pelicans are pressured to offer him a longer-term deal.