How Much Can DeMarcus Cousins Help the Lakers? | Open Floor Podcast

Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver
Sports Illustrated
We watched DeMarcus Cousins struggle through two major leg injuries and take discount deals with the Warriors and Lakers. The Open Floor podcast discusses what next season holds for Cousins in Los Angeles.

How Much Can DeMarcus Cousins Help the Lakers? | Open Floor Podcast

We watched DeMarcus Cousins struggle through two major leg injuries and take discount deals with the Warriors and Lakers. The Open Floor podcast discusses what next season holds for Cousins in Los Angeles.

After a trying time dealing with Achilles and quad injuries, DeMarcus Cousins is hoping to fully recover and regain control of his career as a member of the Lakers. Andrew Sharp and The Washington Post's Ben Golliver of the Open Floor podcast discuss Cousins's future, what role he will play with the Lakers and whether he will help Anthony Davis and LeBron James

(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Andrew Sharp: An e-mailer, Thomas, says, "Is Boogie Cousins joining the Lakers not a big deal, as you guys have not addressed it on the pod? Won't that move allow Anthony Davis to flourish at the power forward position? What do you think, Ben? 

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Ben Golliver: I mean, DeMarcus Cousins was not good last year, was not good in the playoffs. He wasn't healthy. He's got two serious leg injuries in the last 18 months that he never got completely healthy from.

Sharp: Yeah, the reason I didn't mention it is because I don't know whether Boogie is going to be a plus or a minus. I'm not sure there's much in between, honestly. He's going to play because he's DeMarcus Cousins and that will either help the Lakers or he might be the type of guy who is getting minutes in the same way that Rondo got minutes last year... because of his name and because of his standing in the league. And the Lakers may be more productive with him on the bench, and I don't know whether he's willing to embrace that role at this point his career. 

Golliver: I think it's tricky because like Golden State was the ultimate opportunity for him to take a step back on a lot of that stuff because he had so much more to gain from them than vice versa. Because they had other center options, because they had won and he had never won anything, because they could take it slow with him. And I think the Lakers are going to be more desperate for his production, like more willing to kind of force him into situations to get something out of them than the Warriors ever were.

And I'm not sure they're going to like the results, so then it's going to kind of come due at some point where it's like, "All right man, yout're out there, you're turning the ball over a lot, you can't move on defense, you're not the guy you were two years ago, you're getting re-injured or whatever else it might be. And I think they're way better off using him as a sub, but do they have the institutional credibility to be able to pull that off? Is Frank Vogel going to have that bedside manner that Steve Kerr did with the backing of Kevin Durant you know and all their star?

Sharp: It's easier for Cousins to be on the bench when there are four Hall of Famers on the floor and you can easily accept that like, "OK, I'm just here to play my role" than when it's like JaVale McGee

Golliver: JaVale McGee is throwing the ball into the third row accidentally and you're thinking, "This guy is starting over me?" It's tough. And to his point about does Cousins make life easier for Davis, I don't know if I see it that way. I think that the Lakers' best lineups are going to have Davis at the five rather than having a center in there. And I think you're going to want to keep the the hard minutes off Davis during the regular season as much as possible, so it'll be worth using McGee's minutes and Boogie's minutes during the regular season. They're are going to be important because it does reduce the strain on Davis.

But I don't think that Boogie's actual presence on the court is going to be that helpful to Davis, because I think Davis is better off having fewer bodies in the paint. And I think that at times, because they both put up such huge numbers in New Orleans, people thought that was like a really good, really functional combination. I don't think it was ever that good of a pairing. It always seemed just kind of awkward to me, and you throw the LeBron factor on top of it, where Cousins is never going to be able to get the numbers he wants to get because LeBron is going to have the ball so much. I just don't see Cousins pulling the best version of Davis out of Davis. I think the best version of Davis involves Cousins watching from the sidelines, waving a towel, getting excited because LeBron just threw him an alley up and the paint was empty because there were no other bodies in there. 

Sharp: Yeah, I agree and that's why we haven't mentioned it because I think that maybe one out of five times this next season with Boogie on the Lakers will end well and he'll be a positive for the Lakers. But there are too many other scenarios where it doesn't work.

Golliver: And by the way, this is why I bent over backwards to give Cousins credit during the Finals for that incredible performance. It wasn't every night but that one game he had was so clutch, so big for them. It really helped them extend the series, and it was so gutsy and it was so unselfish for him to put his own health on the backburner for the team's success. And the fact that he could still do it despite what he was playing through was incredible.

But part of the reason why I was giving him that love at that moment was because I don't feel great about how the next couple of years are going to go for him. And I think the NBA has shown, the entire league has shown their betting the same thing. You look at the kind of contract he got last summer. You look at the kind of contract he got this summer. The league is basically saying we're out on DeMarcus Cousins.

Sharp: It's unfortunate because the way things have gone are just crappy for him. And I think everybody who follows basketball feels bad for the way things have gone. But at the same time, just looking at it realistically, the next couple of years could be complicated.

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