The NBA Trade Deadline is getting closer and with the Los Angeles Lakers not playing their best basketball without Anthony Davis, the speculation on who the team will bring in to help has grown.
Several names have been connected to the Lakers and most recently there have been two Houston Rockets players with strong connections to LA. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski named the Lakers as one of the team’s that are gauging a trade for P.J. Tucker while DeMarcus Cousins and the Rockets have agreed to part ways, with the Lakers seeming like the most likely fit.
Yesterday I broke down a potential trade package for Tucker and why the Lakers and Rockets would both be interested in making that deal happen. I am going to be referencing a framework similar to that package, so if you want to check it out, you can find it here.
This trade package can not only land P.J. Tucker, but could also land Boogie Cousins as well. And this is not a case of the Rockets throwing Cousins in the trade deal, in fact, it would be a workaround by both sides to make this happen.
How a P.J. Tucker trade could lead to DeMarcus Cousins joining the Los Angeles Lakers:
Again, I want to reiterate that Cousins is not part of the trade package itself. I think an important detail that is getting overlooked is the initial report that the Rockets and Cousins were going to part ways in the coming days after guaranteeing his salary this season.
Both a trade and release were mentioning as possibilities but the Rockets cannot actually trade Cousins until March 1 because of the NBA’s three-month rule in signing new free agents. The news was reported on February 20, nine days before March 1. Just worth mentioning.
The Rockets can still get value for Cousins and that is where this trade for Tucker comes in. The Lakers are going to have to trade several role players for Tucker to make the salaries work. This is not something the Rockets should really be interested in, though, as they want future talent and assets.
The most value in the package was young big man Devontae Cacok, who can take over for Boogie in the rotation and provide the smaller outlook at center that the team is going with in Christian Wood, and a future second-round pick.
Markieff Morris and other role players are in the trade as well. The idea is that the Rockets could try and flip Morris and the others to other teams for more second-round draft picks. That is how this deal could turn into a three or four-team deal.
So how does this lead to Boogie? Two ways.
First, the Los Angeles Lakers could agree to send another second-round pick in the trade as well as a wink and a nod deal with the Houston Rockets to release Cousins and allow him to sign on the veteran minimum. Of course, the Lakers would have to get word that Cousins would actually come back to LA, but if so, the Lakers can sweeten this package knowing that Cousins is coming.
Second, this opens up roster spots for the Lakers to get Cousins and any other potential bought-out players. By trading four players (three of which are in the rotation right now, Cacok is on a two-way deal), for one, the Lakers are opening up 2 roster spots in the process. One roster spot could go to Cousins, with one being saved for another signing.
Both Tucker and Cousins make sense for the Los Angeles Lakers. Depth is important and the Lakers value veteran depth, as showcased by the team bringing in Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith last season.
Not only that, but they both provide needs for the team as well. Tucker is a better version of what Morris is right now for the Lakers and Cousins provides the traditional second big behind Marc Gasol and the playmaking big that the team currently lacks without Anthony Davis.
Is it possible that we see both Rockets in purple and gold this season? I think so.