DeMarcus Cousins received calls from the Pelicans and Lakers after free agency officially got underway early Sunday morning, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). According to Spears, Cousins is expected to schedule meetings with both teams.
Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times confirms (via Twitter) that the Lakers have spoken to Cousins about setting up a meeting, though no date has been set yet, per Turner’s source.
We heard on Saturday night that Cousins may be emerging as a top target for the Lakers, who saw Paul George commit to re-signing with the Thunder early in free agency. No NBA team has more cap room than Los Angeles, but with George returning to Oklahoma City and LeBron James still weighing his decision, the Lakers haven’t had a chance to use that cap room on anyone yet.
As for the Pelicans, they project to be over the cap, but they hold Cousins’ Bird rights, so they could make him a significant offer, especially if they’re willing to cross into luxury-tax territory.
It’s not clear yet what Cousins’ next contract might look like. The standout center was in the midst of a career-best season – with 25.2 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 5.4 APG in 48 games for New Orleans – and was headed for a probable long-term max deal before he tore his Achilles earlier this year. Teams interested in signing him will have questions about his health and his ability to bounce back from the injury. A shorter-term deal may be a possibility for the All-Star, who turns 28 next month.