LeBron James Reportedly Interested in Playing with DeMarcus Cousins

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2018

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, right, tries to block the pass of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. The Cavaliers won 120-108. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

LeBron James is reportedly interested in playing alongside free-agent center DeMarcus Cousins, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

Both James and Cousins are available on the open market, and they are arguably the top two free agents remaining with Kevin Durant, Paul George and Chris Paul reportedly all agreeing to re-sign with their previous teams.

James is heavily favored to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers, as OddsShark listed the Lakers as 1-50 (-5,000) favorites, while the field is 15-1 (+1,500).

Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated reported Sunday that the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans were the first two teams to reach out to Cousins in free agency.

The Lakers can afford to sign two star players in free agency, and while George and the Lakers were long considered to have mutual interest, his decision to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder will force L.A. to look at other options.

Acquiring small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs is also a possibility, as the two sides have reportedly been talking.

LeBron has never been shy about his admiration for Cousins, as he called him "the best big man in our game," last year, per Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon.

Shortly after that comment, Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Pelicans.

In 48 games last season with the Pels before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals.

On Friday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter that it was "very likely" Cousins would sign a five-year, full-max contract to return to New Orleans.

The Pelicans can offer Cousins the most money, as well as the chance to play alongside rising star and MVP candidate Anthony Davis.

Any team with James is a championship contender, however, and joining him in L.A. alongside promising young players such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma could be enticing to Cousins as well.

If the Lakers are going to sign James and attempt to pair him with another star, then Cousins may be their best option remaining considering they would have to give up some quality assets in order to land Leonard.