Why the Lakers Should Keep Boogie!
How keeping the injured DeMarcus Cousins on their active roster could enable the Los Angeles Lakers to retain the talented center long term
Had Boogie not torn his ACL, the Lakers wouldn’t have been able to afford him next year. Now, if they’re willing to gamble and keep him on the roster, they have a chance to re-sign him next summer and retain him long term.
Since they just used their last roster spot to sign Dwight Howard to a one-year contract to replace DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers would need to cut a current player under contract should Andre Iguodala become available. While they could apply to the league for a Disabled Player Exception for Boogie to enable them to go over the cap by $1.8 million to sign or trade for a replacement, the DPE does not give them an additional roster spot.
There’s also no question, especially in the wake of Cousins’ injury, the Lakers desperately need an elite wing defender like Iggy to guard other teams’ leading scorers like the Clippers’ small forward Kawhi Leonard. While they could waive Boogie to make room for Iguodala, the Lakers would be smart to keep him on the active roster and cut a guard like Troy Daniels, who’s unlikely to play much considering their depth in guards.
Keeping Cousins on the 15-man roster has several advantages, including the long shot that he could recover in nine months and help the Lakers in the playoffs as well as being able to monitor his progress as he recuperates. There’s also the intangible benefit of keeping him as part of the team and demonstrating how the Lakers treat their stars, something that could pay dividends next summer when it’s time to re-sign him and Anthony Davis.
The gamble would be that Cousins would be able to fully recover from the torn ACL without any lingering problems with his Achilles and quadriceps. The payoff would be getting the ideal center to play with Anthony Davis. Even if Boogie is only 80% of the player he was before the injuries, his ability to bang in the post, protect the rim, rebound and pass the ball, and shoot from deep make him the perfect complement for Anthony Davis.
While Boogie could lose some of his lift and explosiveness due to injuries, he was on schedule to become one of the best stretch fives in the history of the league before the trio of unfortunate injuries took him down. As much as the Lakers need a big body to bang with physical centers like Stephen Adams and Joel Embiid, they also need a center who can stretch the floor and create space for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to attack the basket.
With their cap space tied up in James and Davis, the chance to sign Cousins to an affordable two-year deal this summer and acquire his Bird rights could be the Lakers’ only realistic opportunity for that elusive third star. That’s why they need to ‘invest’ their 15th roster spot this season on the possible future acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins. It’s a gamble that at the least will increase their chances of re-signing AD and could pay off big.
While there’s almost no chance the 15th player on the roster will contribute to a championship, there’s probably a better than even chance DeMarcus Cousins will be able to overcome his injuries and come back as a superstar.
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