NBA legend says only 1 NBA team is dealing with worse situation than Suns: ‘It’s the f——g Lakers’

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA center DeMarcus Cousins believes that the Los Angeles Lakers are in a worse situation than the Phoenix Suns.

Los Angeles was knocked out of the playoffs on Monday night by the Denver Nuggets, the second time in as many seasons that Denver ended L.A.’s title hopes.

Phoenix, which was swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs, is also done for the season, but Cousins explained how LeBron James’ future could throw a wrench into the Lakers’ plans to truly contend for a title.

“I’ll put it like this — it’s only one team with a s—tier situation than Phoenix,” Cousins said. “And it’s the f—— Lakers.

“LeBron has this organization by the balls. It’s well-noted. At what point does LeBron decide to take that pay cut if it’s about still winning championships? Money isn’t an issue for LeBron. So, at what point do you take that cut to bring in more talent to compete for a championship? And if that’s not the case, then what is your goal with bein’ a Laker and movin’ forward with the rest of your career? That’s my question to LeBron because at this point, if LeBron goes and signs for $60 million a year, obviously, it’s not much room to add talent to this roster.”

It was indicated by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that James may opt out of his contract and enter free agency this offseason, which could allow him to sign a long-term deal with the Lakers or another team.

If James does stay with the Lakers, the team is likely going to need to commit some major money to him, as Cousins noted, which will make it harder to upgrade the roster. Still, the Lakers have draft picks, as well as players like Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent and potentially D’Angelo Russell (if he exercises his player option) that they could dangle via trade to improve their roster.

Meanwhile, the Suns don’t have the same luxury.

One of the team’s most talented players – guard Bradley Beal – has a no-trade clause in his contract which will make it very tough to trade him. The team also doesn’t have control over any of its own first-round draft picks (thanks to trades and pick swaps) through 2030.

Cousins may think that the Lakers are in a tough spot if James asks for a major deal, but the NBA’s all-time leading scorer is still playing at a very high level.

During the 2023-24 regular season, the four-time champion averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game while shooting 54.0 percent from the field and 41.0 percent from beyond the arc. He then followed that up by averaging 27.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists per outing across five games in the playoffs.

Both the Suns and Lakers certainly need to make some adjustments if they truly want to win a title, but the Lakers have more assets – without giving up James or Anthony Davis – to make some changes to their roster than the Suns do without moving one of the players in their Big 3.

It’ll be interesting to see how both teams approach the offseason, especially since they likely are still focused on winning a title.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.