Will the signing of DeMarcus Cousins put the Los Angeles Clippers over the top against the crosstown Lakers?
As of Sunday, the Los Angeles Clippers sit in third place in the Western Conference, 6.5 games behind the Utah Jazz for first. However, they have the crosstown Lakers breathing down their necks, just a half a game behind them. After watching the Lakers add center Andre Drummond last weekend, the Clippers responded by bringing in a big man of their own.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Clippers are signing former Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract this week as long as he clears the league’s health and safety protocol.
While this is a response to the Lakers’ move following the trade deadline, does this signing give the Clippers the edge?
Clippers: DeMarcus Cousins signing does not give them the edge over the Lakers
To answer the above question, the addition of Cousins does not make the Clippers a better overall team than the Lakers. But as of right now, the Clippers are better by default due to the numerous injuries to the Lakers’ stars.
Back on Feb. 14, forward Anthony Davis left Los Angeles’ game against the Denver Nuggets due to a right calf injury. While Davis has been cleared to advance his on-court work, there is still no timeline for his return.
Things only got worse for the Lakers, as LeBron James exited a March 20 game against the Atlanta Hawks. As James retrieved a loose ball, Hawks forward Solomon Hill fell on his right ankle. Los Angeles’ worst fears became true, as James was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and he is still weeks away from a return as of this writing.
Drummond was brought in by the Lakers to not only fill the star void left by James and Davis, but to serve as a the team’s starting center. The former Cleveland Cavaliers big man made his debut this past Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks, but left midway through the game with a bruised right big toe. He missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings and was ruled out prior to Sunday’s game against the Clippers.
Reminder, Cousins is not signed through the remainder of the season. It is only a 10-day deal. He is coming off a torn Achilles, quadriceps and ACL in the span of two years. While Cousins did sign on with the Rockets, he played as a backup behind Christian Wood. Through 25 games, Cousins averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, all career-lows. After that stretch of games, the Rockets waived him from his deal, making him a free agent.
The Clippers are the better team right now due to the injury bug attacking the Lakers stars in the past two months. But once the Lakers are at full health, it is hard to pick the Clippers over them, especially in the playoffs.