Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported the team's impending release of Quinn Cook was not made in order to grab Cousins after his departure from Houston. The Lakers are expected to keep their options open on the trade and waiver-wire market.
Cousins signed a one-year contract with the Lakers in 2019 but missed the entire 2019-20 season after he tore his ACL in an offseason pickup game. While both the Lakers and Cousins appeared to be open to a return, the four-time All-Star signed with the Rockets in November.
Cousins averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 25 games with the Rockets before the sides parted ways. Houston guaranteed Cousins' $2.3 million salary last week, so he will be able to double dip with a new team.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported Cousins was unhappy with his role as a backup behind Christian Wood, who has broken out in a full-time starter role this season.
Cousins seems likely to prefer a situation in which he can get extended playing time and potentially revive his value around the league. The Lakers do not have an obvious fit for Cousins over the long term, though they could slot him in the big-man rotation temporarily while Anthony Davis is recovering from an Achilles injury.
It's unclear what level of interest Cousins will find around the league. At age 30, he's no longer young enough for a rebuilding team to want him as part of its future, and he isn't helpful enough to push a contender over the top.
Cousins' departure from Houston is a bit of a surprise because it seemed like a solid enough fit for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.