Boogie’s latest injury
Unfortunately Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins, who was set to start the 2019/20 NBA season as the Lakers starting center, (on a $3.5MM prove it deal), has a torn ACL which will likely keep him out of action for the entire 2019/20 season. This injury, which happened during a pick up game in Vegas last week, follows a quad injury with the Warriors (in last season’s first round playoffs) and a torn achilles with the Pelicans two seasons ago. Per Steven A. Smith these injuries have cost Boogie an estimated $150MM in potential contracts-Boogie averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds in his early, healthy years with the Kings and was one of the NBA’s best young centers. Last year in limited games with the Warriors Boogie averaged 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists 1.3 steals and 1,5 blocks in 26 minutes per game. His passing continued to be special for a big man and he even looked good in a couple of finals games.
Options to “replace” Boogie at center
Before the Cousin’s injury, the Lakers only had two “true” centers on their roster: Boogie and JaVale Magee. Magee, who needs to improve his defense, and play like he did at the beginning and end of last year, will likely move to the starting center role. Anthony Davis, who has played a lot of center for the Pelicans in the past, has been clear (in his introductory press conference with coach Vogel by his side), that he strongly prefers to play power forward. As a result, the Lakers have been speaking with a number of free agent centers to back up Magee.
Some names that have surfaced include:
Dwight Howard. He played for the Lakers in 2012, (with Kobe and Nash in the Lakers last playoff season), before leaving after 1 season for Houston. The Grizzlies, (Dwight’s current team, even though he has not played a single game for them or for his previous team The Bulls), are in the early part of a rebuild and have given the Lakers permission to speak with Dwight. Dwight would bring elite rebounding (if engaged) but he has been traded/released under a variety of “cancer in the locker room” rumors in the past few years. Would he really be willing to be the 3rd (or 4th) option on offense for a title contending Lakers team? We think not.
Joakim Noah. The Lakers are speaking with Noah, who would bring good passing and rebounding but may be less effective given the numerous “distractions” in LA. He had problems with this in New York. He is “very limited” offensively.
Christian Wood. Former Milwaukee Buck Wood has been discussed as a potential Laker center on a variety of websites. Apparently Wood will be battling Michael Beasley for the last big man spot on the Pistons, would the Pistons trade Wood? Wood averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds in 8 games for Pelicans at the end of last year.
Nene: Turned down a $3.8MM player option (at age 37) with the Rockets Nene would likely not be happy with the $1.75MM (max Lakers can offer).
Kenneth Faried: He can rebound and rim run but ran out of gas late last year after helping to jump start the Rockets after roughly 30 games last season.
The case for Carmelo
While Anthony Davis will be a free agent at the end of the 2019/20 season, and therefore holds a lot of negotiating power, we think the Lakers would be best served asking AD to play the center position (at least for this year) and bring Carmelo Anthony in as a backup power forward. The healthy forwards and centers on the Lakers roster include: LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Magee, Davis and Jared Dudley. Assuming James and Dudley will primarily play the small forward position that leaves Kuzma (too small for center), Magee and Davis to split up the power forward and center minutes. We believe Carmelo Anthony would be a nice fit at the back up power forward behind Kuzma.
In is 16 year (10 time All Star) career with the Nuggets, Knicks, OKC and Houston Carmelo has averaged 24 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He is also the all time leading scorer and rebounder for Team USA. Anthony and the Lakers had mutual interest last season (Anthony’s last game as a Rocket was on November 8, 2018) but after James was injured and the Lakers started losing, the interest went away. Anthony has been working out with some Nets players in LA this summer (could he go to the Nets?)
Carmelo has made $232MM in his NBA career so the $1.75MM salary should not be an issue, it is all about the chance to get a ring for Carmelo. If he is willing to play 15 minutes per game as a backup power forward and help Kuzma to improve as a playmaker and a floor spacer this could be a great fit.
Our guess is LeBron will need to convince AD to play center to make this partial banana boat reunion with Carmelo happen.
Editors note: Brian thinks tis is a good basketball move. Mike wants Carmelo on the Lakers to add even more media distractions/palace intrigue/Rambis family involvement.