The Los Angeles Lakers’ title aspirations took a big hit on Thursday, when it was reported that All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins had suffered an ACL tear. While it was probably unrealistic to expect Cousins to return to his All-Star form next season, there was hope that he’d look more like his former self in his second year removed from an Achilles tear.
Now, it’s more than likely that the Lakers will be without any iteration of Cousins for all of next season. The question is: Where do they go from here?
The Lakers could just split time at center between Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee, but given Davis’ own injury history and his public proclamations that he prefers to play power forward, it would probably be wise of the team to look for options in free agency. Here are some names they should consider.
LeBron James might not be the biggest fan of Joakim Noah because of the battles they had in the Eastern Conference, but Noah arguably gives James the best chance to win this year.
Noah isn’t close to the shooter Cousins is, nor can he handle the ball the way Cousins can, but he can still be an effective player in the right role as evidenced by his comeback season with the Memphis Grizzlies last season. Even in spite of the clunky roster in Memphis, Noah was able to post a defensive box plus-minus of +3.5, his highest DBPM since the 2014-15 season. He also logged the highest defensive rebounding percentage of his career at 29.6 percent.
On the season, Noah averaged 7.1 points on 51.6 percent shooting from the field while averaging 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The last time he was able to match those averages was the 2014-15 season.