The Los Angeles Lakers cleared a roster spot Monday night when they decided to waive guard Quinn Cook, and with Anthony Davis still out due to injury, the immediate speculation was that they would look to add a big man to help deal with his absence. The most prominent available big man is DeMarcus Cousins, who spent part of last season on the Laker roster, and reports had already linked the two sides for a possible reunion.
But according to Brad Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Cousins returning to the Lakers is unlikely at this point. They are reporting that the Lakers are not going to immediately fill Cook’s spot, which makes sense. The Lakers are pressed up against the hard cap, and the longer they wait to fill their two vacant roster spots, the cheaper the pro-rated minimum contracts they offer free agents will be. That will allow them to keep a few extra dollars under the hard cap line in case they need to make a slightly unbalanced trade at the deadline.
A possible target, according to Turner and Woike, is Sacramento Kings big man Hassan Whiteside. The Kings have fallen to No. 11 in the Western Conference and Whiteside is playing only 14.6 minutes per game, his lowest total since becoming a starter during the 2014-15 season. What he would offer the Lakers at the moment is sorely needed size. They do not currently have a seven-footer on the roster, and with Davis out, the Lakers have struggled to defend the rim. Whiteside does not defend the perimeter well at all, but routinely racks up some of the highest block totals in basketball. Whiteside would likely struggle to earn minutes in the postseason when Davis will likely slide back over to center for the bulk of his minutes. However, he could help fill a regular-season void.
The Lakers waived Cook for flexibility above all else. It was a sign that Rob Pelinka believes that this roster needs to be upgraded. What form that will take remains to be seen, but if he indeed plans to take his time as this report suggests, that indicates that virtually anything could be on the table for the Lakers.