DeMarcus Cousins

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 ESPN.com.

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 Lakers.com 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 ESPN.com 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 Heavy.com 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.

Arrest Warrant Issued For DeMarcus Cousins

A warrant has been issued by the Mobile, Alabama police department for DeMarcus Cousins‘ arrest on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, a spokesperson confirmed to A.J. Perez of USA Today. According to Perez, the Mobile municipal court website lists a third-degree harassing communications charge against the Lakers center.

As we detailed on Tuesday, the charge is related to an alleged threat that Cousins made against his ex-girlfriend, who didn’t allow their seven-year-old son to attend Cousins’ wedding. TMZ obtained court documents and a police report filed by Cousins’ ex, claiming that he threatened to “put a bullet through [her] f—ing head.” TMZ’s report also included an audio recording of the alleged threat.

In addition to being the subject of a police investigation, Cousins is also facing scrutiny from his team and the NBA. The Lakers and the league both announced on Tuesday that they’re investigating the allegations against Cousins, who is expected to miss most or all of the 2019/20 season due to a torn ACL.

Defense attorney Mary Kristen Galanos, who is not involved in the case, tells Perez that the warrant is standard procedure in a misdemeanor case. Cousins’ attorney will likely set up time for Cousins to turn himself into police, and he’d subsequently be processed and released.

Per USA Today’s report, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail.

Pacific Notes: Moore, Suns, Cousins, Warriors

Ben Moore‘s NBA track record is about as limited as possible for a player who has technically appeared in the league. The young forward played a total of nine minutes in two games for the Pacers during the 2017/18 season, recording one assist, one rebound, and four personal fouls. However, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link), the Suns are intrigued enough by Moore to bring him in for workouts this week.

As Carchia explains, Moore “opened eyes” with his performance for the USA Basketball Select Team that suited up against Team USA’s World Cup squad in Los Angeles last week. The Select Team upset the varsity club more than once during their scrimmages.

Moore, who spent last season in the G League, averaged 12.8 PPG and 8.7 RPG on .556/.368/.783 shooting in 47 games for the Austin Spurs and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get a chance to attend camp with an NBA team this season.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • During a recent appearance on Glenn Clark Radio, Suns assistant coach Steve Blake said that Ricky Rubio will help his new teammates “have fun” on the court this season and added that the Suns “definitely expect a lot” from newly-acquired forward Dario Saric. Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic has the details and the rest of Blake’s quotes.
  • With the NBA investigating allegations that Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins threatened his ex-girlfriend, legal expert Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated takes a deep dive into the situation, exploring what factors the league will consider and how the investigation will proceed.
  • It’s officially the end of an era for the Warriors. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link), the team began to fully shift its business operations from its Oakland facility to San Francisco’s Chase Center this week.

DeMarcus Cousins Accused Of Threatening Ex-Girlfriend

3:15pm: The NBA is investigating the allegations against Cousins, NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed in a statement (Twitter link via Youngmisuk).

1:45pm: DeMarcus Cousins‘ offseason is going from bad to worse, as the injured Lakers center is being accused of threatening his ex-girlfriend after she didn’t allow their seven-year-old son to attend Cousins’ wedding, according to a TMZ report.

TMZ obtained court documents and a police report filed by Cousins’ ex, Christy West, claiming that he threatened to “put a bullet through [her] f—ing head.” TMZ’s report also includes an audio recording of the alleged threat, which reportedly occurred last Friday — West is “adamant” that the voice on the phone call is Cousins’.

According to TMZ, West has filed court documents in Alabama seeking a restraining order against Cousins, claiming that he has choked her before as well. A police spokesperson in Mobile, Alabama tells TMZ that they’ve opened an investigation into her allegations.

The latest news on Cousins comes less than two weeks after word broke that he has suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for most or all of the 2019/20 season. The four-time All-Star has faced questions about his temperament and demeanor throughout his NBA career, and has increasingly had to battle health issues within the last two years. This offseason’s developments won’t help alleviate those concerns on either front.

If the NBA investigates the allegations against Cousins and determines that they’re credible, the league could take action against the big man, fining and/or suspending him. Should Cousins be suspended, he’d have to serve that ban after being medically cleared to return from his ACL tear.

The Lakers have issued the following statement of their own, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com (Twitter link):

We are aware of the allegation involving DeMarcus Cousins and, of course, take this claim seriously. We are in the process of gathering information and will reserve further comment at this time.”

Details On Dwight Howard Signing With Lakers

Dwight Howard is returning to Los Angeles in a rebounding and rim-protecting role to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The signing of the center was a complex process for the Lakers, as Shams Charania of The Athletic explains.

The Grizzlies gave Howard and representatives permission to seek out a deal. Once that happened, the big man met with Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd, with whom Howard played during USA Basketball activities in 2007. The two have a solid relationship and mutual respect for each other from their time in the NBA together, Charania writes in a full-length piece.

In the past, Howard wanted an expanded role on the teams he’d played for. Now, he would be fine with simply rebounding, defending and staying in his lane. Howard has reportedly made these kind of declarations before with no actions to follow up his words. However, Kidd was convinced that Howard had sincerely shifted his mindset.

Next came getting on the same page with Lakers’ stakeholders, from James and Davis to ownership and front office members, Charania writes. Howard then got the green light for the workout with the team, which went well — “amazing” was what one source told Charania about Howard’s performance.

Here’s more on Howard’s path back to the Lakers:

  • Charania hears that Dwight actually arrived at the Lakers’ training facility the day before his scheduled workout, showcasing initiative which impressed the team’s brass.
  • Howard was convincing during an emotional meeting with Lakers’ players and staff, explaining how he had hit rock bottom and understood what he needed to do to remain in the league.
  • Davis, who was one of the players with whom Howard met, prefers to play alongside a true center during the course of the NBA season, a source tells Charania. Davis is comfortable playing the five during the playoffs but his preference is part of the reason the Lakers were targeting centers to begin with after DeMarcus Cousins went down.
  • By multiple accounts, Howard is fully healthy and truly motivated. Charania writes that Howard treated his workout with the Lakers like a post-college player participating in a pre-draft workout.
  • Howard doesn’t feel a need to start at the five but he will compete for it along with JaVale McGee. He’s willing to play any amount of minutes the team needs of him with a source close to Howard telling Charania that “Dwight is ready. He can’t wait.”