Cousins thrilled to join ‘incredible’ Lakers roster
“That’s part of the reason why we wanted to become teammates again,” Cousins said on a conference call with Lakers media about teaming up with Davis again. “We realized how much better we made one another and how much we made the game easier for each other. We both appreciate each other’s presence.
“To add LeBron James to the mix, his resume speaks for itself. One of the greatest players ever to play the game, added to that, it should be an exciting season.”
Cousins signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Lakers in free agency and is reunited with former Pelicans teammates Davis and Rajon Rondo. With the Lakers surrounding James and Davis with the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rondo, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley, Cousins sees a powerful Lakers squad.
“The roster is incredible,” said Cousins, who could start at center with Davis at power forward. “I think we got a lot of talented pieces on paper. On paper we look legit, we look like we have a great chance of competing for a title. It’s obvious that the game isn’t played on paper. It’s our job to come together and mesh and get on the same page and build a chemistry and go out and win games. As far as on paper, we look great.”
Cousins knows all about how incredible a team can look before the season starts. The big man signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors last summer to form what many thought would be an unstoppable super team once Cousins recovered from an Achilles tear suffered on Jan. 26, 2018.
He returned from surgery this past January and averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30 regular-season games and began to hit his stride in March and April.
But in the second game of the first-round against the Clippers, Cousins suffered another setback, tearing his left quad while going after a loose ball.
“Actually the game that I tore my quad… that day [I was] saying how amazing I felt,” Cousins said. “I really started feeling like myself again and some unfortunate things ended up happening that night. I was really feeling good at the time. That is kind of a good thing because I know it’s possible to get back to that place. That is the positive I took out of it.”
Despite the initial fear that he would miss the entire postseason, Cousins returned to play in the NBA Finals in a limited role. He had 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in Game 2 and 14 points and six rebounds in Game 5 — both wins for the Warriors over Toronto.
“I’m working my tail off every single day,” Cousins said of his health. “My quad is 100-percent healed. I’m building it up every day and building up my lower body up every single day and I’m getting stronger, getting in better shape, my plan is to come into training camp in tip top shape. My goal is to play 82 games this season, I want a full season of health and going to the playoffs and whatever happens, happens.”
Cousins is excited to be reunited with Davis. Cousins was traded to New Orleans from Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. During the 2017-18 season, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games playing alongside Davis before tearing his Achilles.
During that season, Davis and Cousins played 1,095 minutes together before Cousins’ season-ending injury and the Pelicans outscored their opponents by 5.3 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor according to NBA Advanced Stats.
Cousins said he doesn’t know what his exact role will be but that he will do whatever head coach Frank Vogel needs from him. Cousins is ready to prove himself all over again and establish a market for the big man next summer after trying to do just that last season on a one-year deal with the Warriors.
“I’ve kind of been doubted my whole life and I use that as fuel to continue to push every single day,” Cousins said. “One of my biggest fears is to be proven wrong by somebody that doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t have my best interest in heart.
“So with that being said, I’m always seeking to prove those type of people wrong.”