Lakers News: Latest on DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard Rumors and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are naturally one of the NBA's prominently featured teams for the season resumption from Orlando, Florida at the end of July. 

LeBron James and Co. will take part in the second of two kickoff games against the Los Angeles Clippers at 9 p.m. ET on July 30. But that still feels like much more than a month away. 

In the interim, the Lakers—like all teams heading to the bubble—have to navigate a new transaction window opened by the NBA to bolster those rosters. 

When it comes to that, DeMarcus Cousins is a name to remember.

Cousins is indeed working on rehabbing and prepping for next season, which is why Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium had reported the star center won't play at all this season. But Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times had since followed that up with a report that Cousins' agent said he's open to a deal.

Call it quite the luxurious fallback plan if it comes to that for the Lakers. Cousins is a bit of a question mark from an on-court impact standpoint given the fact he's still recovering from a torn ACL. But he also has career averages of 21.2 points and 10.9 rebounds. He also was plenty respectable with averages of 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 2018-19 over 30 appearances with the Golden State Warriors

For now, the Lakers have a backcourt hole to address. Losing Bradley punched a problem into the roster other teams can exploit thanks to his prowess as a defender, so any signings figure to feature a defensive slant. 

Los Angeles' big lineups would still love to feature Dwight Howard, though again, not many teams are in a position to take a potential loss like that and possibly back right into a talent like Cousins. But the marriage would make sense for all parties, at least on a short-term basis ahead of the playoffs. 

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This is noteworthy because of other roster happenings and rumblings. 

Avery Bradley, for example, has already opted out of playing in the resumed season, which leaves the Lakers with a roster spot to fill. And as of now, there doesn't seem to be a 100 percent guarantee on the Dwight Howard front, either. 

According to Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, things remain positive when it comes to Howard, but backup plans seem notable, if not bountiful:

"There is a belief around the organization that Howard is likely to join the team in Florida. If he does not, the Lakers could have another option at center. DeMarcus Cousins is still mulling whether he will return to the league for the remainder of the season or continue his rehabilitation from an ACL tear until the start of next season."

Howard has appeared in 62 games for the Lakers in 2019-20, averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over 19.2 minutes. He slotted into the required role well and going into the great unknown of a looming championship pursuit, the Lakers would ideally like to have him in the fold as opposed to going outside the organization.

But roster construction is hardly the only hurdle facing the Lakers: They have to actually get to said bubble while adhering to the schedule and procedures outlined. 

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, July 9 is the penciled-in travel date for the Lakers:

No matter what the organization's moves look like in the coming days and weeks, the travel plans seem cemented and the roster will indeed lead the NBA's charge on July 30.

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