Los Angeles Lakers: How the DeMarcus Cousins signing effects LA

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings and Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attend practice for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings and Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attend practice for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers signing LeBron James was the biggest Los Angeles news of the century. However, the signing has been trumped by another huge signing.

The Los Angeles Lakers did it! Magic Johnson did what he was hired for and was able to close out on a four-year, $154 million deal with LeBron James. With a player option after three years, James is giving the Lakers a long-term promise.

(Most) Lakers fans were understandably on top of the world. James carried a much less talented Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals, where they easily could have won two of the four games they lost with only minor changes. The same LeBron James that has been to eight straight NBA Finals.

With James in tow, and potentially Kawhi Leonard, a championship became a reasonable expectation. If the Lakers were in the East, they would easily be in the finals. All LA needed to do was dethrone the Golden State Warriors, which wouldn’t have been a huge challenge with Leonard.

Then the Warriors signed All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3 million contract with the Warriors. Although Cousins will be out until the turn of the calendar year, this signing has still been ridiculed by many. Cousins is making nearly $12 million less than last season. Injury aside, that is pretty good for someone that has averaged 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game the last three years.

Let’s not forget that this is the same Warriors team that has two top-six talents on their roster, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Durant is in the top-three and Curry is either fifth or sixth, depending who you ask.

This is also the team that includes Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Thompson has shown glimpses of brilliance and is an overall solid player and could be a superstar if he was a primary scoring option. Green is gritty, tenacious and is the glue of the Warriors’ defense while being a top-three defender in the league.

Even if DeMarcus Cousins comes back at 75 percent of his old self, the Warriors will still have a starting five of five all-stars. Cousins is the best center in the league, with the only one really knocking on his door being Karl-Anthony Towns.

It doesn’t help that the New Orleans Pelicans also agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal with Julius Randle; to which the Lakers renounced Randle’s rights.

So, that raises the question which is the entire reason why you clicked on this article to begin with.

How does the Warriors signing DeMarcus Cousins effect the Los Angeles Lakers and the team’s future?

Well, I am glad you asked.

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For the most part, this does not effect the Lakers’ long-term goal with LeBron which seems to be to build a contender that will not only compete now, but for years to come. In many ways, LeBron is the catalyst to start that reaction.

While the Lakers obviously want to contend, the plan does not seem to be a first year or bust when it comes to the championship. The Lakers front office know how good the Warriors are, LeBron knows it, we all know it. If LeBron was so concerned about winning a title next season, he would have went elsewhere.

Instead, this has become a commitment for LeBron that allows him to continue to contend for years to come. With a young core in tact, and Leonard possibly inbound, this team will continue to be good and only get betterThat obviously was not the case in Cleveland.

This may effect a possible trade for Leonard, though. Since Leonard is a free agent next summer, the Lakers and LeBron can be patent and not give up anything more than they are willing. The Lakers can now set a price with the Spurs and walk away if the Spurs do not take it knowing that Leonard wants to be a Laker.

And while that may make it very hard to overcome Golden State in year one, it may be the smartest move with the future in mind. That may not be the thing fans want to hear, as the expectations are immensely high with LeBron leading the way, but that is the reality of the situation.

The Lakers have to play with the hand that they are dealt and right now there is an obvious roadblock in the Warriors. While a Western Conference Finals exit may not be pretty, it will give this young core much needed experience and set a good baseline for the future.

As for the Warriors, both Thompson and Cousins are unrestricted free agents next summer. And while the team does own Bird Rights on Thompson, it is going to be hard to pay both men what they are worth. After, what we are assuming will be four, rings for Thompson, he may look to go lead his own team.

The same can be said for Cousins, who would get his ring on a one-year deal and could then leave for greener pastures. Kevin Durant also owns a player option, a third ring could push him to the Eastern Conference, where LeBron no longer resides, to his hometown Wizards to lead them to a ring.

Draymond Green is an unrestricted free agent in two summers. What he does widely depends on the actions of Cousins, Durant and Thompson.

However, there is the chance that those three do walk after this season and suddenly the Warriors would become very beatable. Even if just Thompson and Cousins walk, throw Leonard on the Lakers and I like LA’s chances.

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So while the DeMarcus Cousins signing may hurt the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of a title in year one, Laker fans should not be worried about winning at least one ring with LeBron James in the future.