DeMarcus Cousins

Lakers Notes: Augustin, Collison, Rondo, Kuzma

D.J. Augustin could be an option for the Lakers as they seek help at point guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. A source tells Deveney the team would be the front-runner to land Darren Collison if he’s serious about returning to the NBA, but the Lakers’ front office is exploring other options as well.

LeBron James has been handling most of the point guard duties, with help from 33-year-old Rajon Rondo and combo guards Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley. Offseason addition Quinn Cook has fallen out of the rotation.

Augustin, who has an expiring $7.25MM contract, would provide a more dependable option in the postseason. Deveney speculates that he might be available if the Magic decide to point toward next season after this week’s injury to Jonathan Isaac, particularly now that Markelle Fultz replaced Augustin as a starter. The Lakers don’t have a second-round pick to offer until 2023, but Deveney notes they do have Talen Horton-Tucker, who was drafted by Orlando last year.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Collison, who said he wants to join one of the L.A. teams, would be the Lakers’ best option if he has kept his game sharp during his brief retirement, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus points out that Collison spent the 2013/14 season with the Clippers, but also played for Lakers coach Frank Vogel in Indiana.
  • Rondo said he was convinced to spend another year with the Lakers after the organization acquired two of his former teammates by trading for Anthony Davis and signing DeMarcus Cousins, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Cousins, who hasn’t played because of injury, was especially important, with Rondo telling general manager Rob Pelinka during free agency, “If you go grab Cous, you got me.”
  • The Lakers have started listening to trade offers involving Kyle Kuzma, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. After hearing his name included in numerous rumors during his first two NBA seasons, Kuzma feels ready for whatever happens, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I’ve been in trade rumors ever since I came here,” Kuzma said. “I think that’s just a thing that happens when you’re a Laker. You’re always in trade rumors, especially in this time, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just control what you can control.”

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Knicks, Horford, Raptors

All-Star point guard Kemba Walker still gets plenty of support from Hornets fans whenever he plays in Charlotte, even if he’s now wearing a Celtics jersey after switching sides this summer, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Fans in Charlotte were no different yesterday, serenading Walker when he checked out for the night in a contest his new team won definitively, 109-92.

“People are going to react like that forever,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters post-game. “He’s a special guy and an awfully good player. He’s been really good for us.” Walker is averaging 22.5 PPG and 5.5 APG for the 23-8 Celtics.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reports that the Knicks considered trading their 2015 first-round draft pick (which wound up being No. 4 pick Kristaps Porzingis) as part of a deal for then-All Star center DeMarcus Cousins. This move could have made for an appetizing frontcourt tandem with Carmelo Anthony.
  • Prestige summer signee Al Horford wants the Sixers to step up their defensive focus as they look to end their third three-game losing streak this season, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reports. “We need to stick together,” Horford said. The team is 7-11 on the road, but 16-2 at home. “We have to be more conscious of doing the things that coach wants us to do, defensively.”
  • The Raptors have managed to stay afloat this season despite losing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard this summer and losing Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell to injuries for at least nine games each. The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith reports that the Raptors are eager for their players’ health to stabilize in 2020. Coach Nick Nurse observed that there have been some benefits to the team’s losing so many top players. “We’ve got a lot more reps out of a lot of other things in games — with a lot of guys that we probably didn’t think would get a lot of reps — and we’ve got a look at a lot of different defenses and stuff,” Nurse said. “So it’s been give and take, good and bad.”

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Ingram, Davis

Kyle Kuzma continues to search for his fit on this year’s Lakers, as Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes.

“It’s tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mindset. But that’s easier said than done,” Kuzma said. “It’s something I’ve got to kind of figure out. But it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”

Kuzma has scored 10 or fewer points in half of the 14 games he’s played this season. In 70 games last season, he scored 10 or fewer just seven times as well.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Brandon Ingram spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the environment in Los Angeles last season. “The team was a little rattled. Coming in every day, it wasn’t always good,” Ingram said. “It wasn’t always good energy.” The former No. 2 overall pick was sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal.
  • The trade talks surrounding half the players on the Lakers became public last season and while it would have been better to keep the discussions out of the spotlight, Ingram says he isn’t too bothered by how everything went down. “I’ve never been in a position of GM. I don’t know how it could’ve been handled,” Ingram said (via Medina’s piece). “I know it’s hard decisions to be made. I know these decisions had to be made to make them a better team, and they’re obviously a better team this year. So I don’t know how I would’ve handled it. They had to handle it how they handled it, and it worked out great.”
  • Davis, who has been reunited with DeMarcus Cousins in Los Angeles, believes the duo could have done great things in New Orleans if they would have been given more time together, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register relays. The Pelicans allowed Cousins to leave in free agency in 2018.

Charges Dropped Against DeMarcus Cousins

Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins had charges of third-degree harassing communications against him dropped and a misdemeanor case dismissed, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The case involved a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving an alleged threat made by Cousins against an ex-girlfriend in Alabama over the summer. An arrest warrant was issued by the Mobile police department at that time.

The allegations were made by Christy West, the mother of their seven-year-old child. Cousins allegedly threatened to shoot her during an argument in which West refused to allow the son to attend Cousins’ wedding.

Cousins isn’t completely out of the woods in terms of potential NBA punishment over the incident. The league could still fine or suspend him as part of the league’s domestic violence policy.

A league spokesman said “We are reviewing the outcome of today’s proceedings,” Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

Counsins is expected to miss this season after suffering a torn ACL in August. The Lakers were granted a disabled player exception, though head coach Frank Vogel said late last month that they haven’t ruled out the possibility that Cousins – who is on a one-year contract – could suit up for the club during the postseason.

Vogel: Lakers Haven’t Ruled Out Cousins Returning

Having suffered a torn ACL in August, veteran center DeMarcus Cousins is considered likely to miss the entire 2019/20 season. In fact, the Lakers were granted a disabled player exception after it was determined that the big man is substantially more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15, 2020.

However, according to head coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers haven’t ruled out the possibility that Cousins – who is on a one-year contract – might be able to suit up for the club during a hypothetical playoff run, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin details.

“We’ve not closed the door on that,” Vogel said. “We’ll just — we’re going to be a wait and see. With these injuries that are long rehabs, you have to see and take it kind of month to month and see where he’s at. But we’ve not closed the door on a possible return for him.”

The fact that the Lakers received a disabled player exception as a result of Cousins’ injury won’t impact his ability to return this season. Whether or not the club uses the DPE by the March 10 deadline, Cousins would still be eligible to return later in the season. The Lakers would lose the DPE if Cousins returns prior to March 10 and it has yet to be used, but that scenario is extremely unlikely.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine Cousins returning at all this season, even if the Lakers win a postseason series or two. As Warriors coach Steve Kerr recently pointed out when he was discussing Klay Thompson‘s ACL tear, those injuries typically call for at least an 11-month recovery timeline. Having endured several major leg injuries in recent years, Cousins might be wise to play it safe with his latest health issue and simply aim to be ready for the 2020/21 season.

In the wake of Cousins’ injury, the Lakers signed Dwight Howard to replace him in the frontcourt, and based on how Howard has looked to start the year, the team may have another reason to play it safe with Cousins. As Bill Oram of The Athletic writes, Howard is coming off a 16-point, 10-rebound, four-block performance against the Hornets, with his return to Los Angeles emerging early as one of the NBA’s most enjoyable fall storylines.

The Lakers will continue to monitor Cousins over the course of the season. If there’s pessimism in January or February about his ability to realistically contribute in the spring, he could be used as a salary-matching piece in a trade or released to open up a roster spot for a player on the buyout market.

Charania’s Latest: Nets, Heat, CP3, Noah, Clippers

Despite the fact that multiple Nets players are reportedly pushing for the team to sign Carmelo Anthony, Brooklyn appears very unlikely to do so at this point, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, the Nets are more likely to fill their 20-man offseason roster they’ve worked out in recent weeks, including perhaps veteran forward Lance Thomas and swingman C.J. Williams. Dante Cunningham and Luol Deng are among the other free agents who have emerged as viable targets for Brooklyn, Charania adds.

With Wilson Chandler facing a 25-game suspension, the Nets could theoretically move on from the former Nugget to open up a spot on their 15-man regular season roster, but they currently have no plans to do so. As Charania points out, keeping Chandler on the suspended list during his 25-game ban will allow the franchise to recoup some of his salary. Plus, team executives believe Chandler would be quickly scooped up by another team if he were released later in the season.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania’s latest round-up:

  • The Heat still have some level of trade interest in Thunder point guard Chris Paul, according to Charania. Miami is expected to wait to see how the start of the season goes before seriously considering whether to renew its pursuit of CP3, who would reciprocate the Heat’s interest.
  • Free agent big man Joakim Noah intends to join the Clippers for workouts this week, sources tell Charania. Noah’s father first suggested earlier this month that his son would be working out for the Clippers.
  • Nuggets guard Malik Beasley, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until October 21, has hired Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports for representation, says Charania.
  • Although DeMarcus Cousins is only a one-year contract and seems likely to miss the entire 2019/20 season due to his torn ACL, the Lakers aren’t ready to move on from him yet. The Lakers wants to integrate him into the club’s culture, according to Charania, who notes that Cousins is expected to be around the team during its mini-camp in Las Vegas this week.

Lakers Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Lakers have been granted a disabled player exception by the NBA for the 2019/20 season as a result of the injury suffered by DeMarcus Cousins, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. L.A. will have until March 10 to use the exception.

As we’ve noted previously, if a player is seriously injured, his team can request a disabled player exception to replace him. In order for the exception to be granted, an NBA-designated physician must determine that the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15.

[RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins suffers torn left ACL]

When it was reported that the Lakers were applying for the DPE, it was still unclear how long the big man would be out as a result of the torn ACL he suffered in August. Based on the latest news from Charania, it seems more than likely that Cousins will indeed miss the entire 2019/20 season, though regardless of the DPE approval he’d still be allowed to return if he can.

A disabled player exception allows a team to add a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, or for the amount of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.

Cousins’ $3.5MM salary creates a DPE worth $1.75MM, which could be beneficial to the Lakers later in the season, should they find themselves competing to sign a player with a team who can only offer a minimum-salary deal.

Pacific Notes: Ballmer, Ariza, Caruso, Howard

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer invested $100MM in the city of Inglewood, California this week, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of

The investment was created as part of the city’s new arena development agreement, with the Clippers labeling it as the largest funding commitment for community programs related to a sports or entertainment venue in California.

“We’re close to a residential neighborhood and we are being very mindful,” Ballmer told ESPN in July about building a potential arena in Inglewood. “Investing well into the community, being a good citizen of the community. No homes need to get moved but we need to be a good neighbor.”

Ballmer’s proposal for a new Clippers arena, according to Youngmisuk, would include a corporate headquarters, team training facility, sports medicine clinic and much more.

“I want it to be beautiful,” Ballmer said. “But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball.”

There’s more today out of the Pacific Division:

  • James Ham of NBC Sports Sacramento examines how Trevor Ariza could fit in a crowded Kings rotation this season. Ariza, a veteran 3-and-D forward, signed a two-year, $25MM deal to join the Kings in free agency this past summer.
  • Mike Trudell of discusses several Lakers-related items in his mailbag, including the possibility of Alex Caruso starting at point guard this season. Caruso was better than Rajon Rondo while playing alongside LeBron James last season, though head coach Frank Vogel also has the option of testing Quinn Cook at starting point guard in training camp.
  • Kevin Pelton of examines whether former All-Star Dwight Howard could help solve the Lakers‘ depth issues at the center position. Howard is expected to fill in the role that injured center DeMarcus Cousins was supposed to fill before tearing his ACL, likely playing back-up center behind JaVale McGee to start the season and controlling the team’s interior presence on defense.

Western Notes: McKinnie, Cauley-Stein, Silva, Grant

Willie Cauley-Stein will likely start at center for the Warriors but Kevon Looney will probably play more crunch-time minutes, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Alfonzo McKinnie may get the nod at small forward with Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in reserve, since McKinnie is a high energy player who should mesh well with the backcourt of Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell, Slater continues. However, rookie Eric Paschall is a darkhorse candidate to play down the stretch due to his versatility, Slater adds.

We have from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors preferred Cauley-Stein to DeMarcus Cousins even before Cousins committed to the Lakers, Slater writes in the same mailbag story. Cauley-Stein provided a younger option who better fit their new priorities, according to Slater. However, they never really had a decision to make because they were hard-capped after the sign-and-trade for Russell with the Nets was agreed upon. The hard cap meant the Warriors couldn’t give Cousins a max raise up to $6.4MM, Slater notes. Cauley-Stein agreed to join the Warriors on a two-year contract on July 2 and officially signed on July 8.
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash prospect Marcos Louzada Silva – aka Didi Louzada — has developed a solid perimeter jumper that should translate well to the NBA game, according to a story. The 6’5” guard can also attack the rim and has shown good strides in his development in recent months. Louzada, the 35th overall pick in June who was acquired in a draft-day deal, will play in Australia with the Sydney Kings during the upcoming season.
  • Jerami Grant should be an ideal frontcourt complement to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic opines. Grant, projected as the top big off the bench, is a nimble perimeter defender who can guard ball-handlers. Grant, acquired from the Thunder for a protected first-round pick, is also a solid help defender who can block shots.
  • Jared Cunningham will work out for the Warriors on Tuesday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. Cunningham, a shooting guard who recently worked out for the Rockets, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2015/16 season.

Lakers Apply For DPE For DeMarcus Cousins

The Lakers have applied for a disabled player exception to replace DeMarcus Cousins, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). If it’s approved by the NBA, the exception would be worth $1.75MM.

As we outline in our glossary entry on the disabled player exception, a team can apply for a DPE to replace a seriously injured player. In order for the exception to be granted, an NBA-designated physician must determine that the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year.

If granted, the disabled player exception allows a club to sign a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, or for the amount of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, whichever is lesser. In the case of Cousins, the exception would be worth half of his $3.5MM salary for 2019/20.

The DPE, which doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, can also be used to acquire a player on an expiring contract via trade or waivers if his salary fits into the exception.

The Lakers haven’t offered a concrete timeline on Cousins’ recovery since he tore his ACL in August. Applying for a DPE suggests the team expects him to miss the entire season, but even if the request is approved, the veteran center wouldn’t be forced to sit out all of 2019/20 — he could still “beat the odds” and return before the end of the season.

Still, given his recent history of major leg injuries, Cousins figures to play it safe with his ACL rehab, so I’d be surprised if we see him on the court again before opening night in 2020. Plus, if the Lakers believe he’ll miss the entire season, they could waive him to free up a roster spot for another player. Cousins would still receive his full $3.5MM salary in that scenario.

A $1.75MM exception won’t be very valuable for the Lakers at this point, but it could come in handy later in the league year, especially since they’re capped out and have already used their full room exception.

Teams have until March 10 to use a disabled player exception, and the DPE would gain value as the season progresses and the value of a prorated minimum-salary contract declines. Being able to offer a $1.75MM salary on the buyout market in February could give L.A. an advantage over teams that can only offer the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.