The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent center DeMarcus Cousins, and have brought back point guard Rajon Rondo on a two-year deal, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
Agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports told ESPN that Cousins’ deal is worth $2.3 million. Cousins and Rondo ($2.6M) are returning on minimum deals, with Rondo holding a player option for the second year.
Cousins surprised many by signing a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors last July amid his recovery from a torn left Achilles. He made his season debut for Golden State in January — close to a year after having surgery on the Achilles — and ended up playing 30 regular-season games, averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds.
He was at his best in April, averaging 20-11 and offering the Warriors a glimpse of what could be come playoff time. But in Game 2 of the team’s first-round series against the LA Clippers, Cousins suffered a torn left quadriceps while chasing down a loose ball.
The injury initially was expected to keep Cousins out for the remainder of the playoffs, but he returned for the NBA Finals and, despite a limited role, was a factor in several games. He had an 11-point, 10-rebound, six-assist gem in Golden State’s Game 2 win in Toronto.
Cousins said the significant injuries he has suffered recently had him contemplating whether he wanted to continue playing.
“I was just ready to quit,” he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “Like, throw the towel in. … Human nature is the first thing. It’s like, ‘Why? Why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? Why do I deserve this?’ And that’s not always the case. It’s usually [that] it’s repaying you for the next moment.
“This is you putting your armor on. Slowly but surely. Because your next moment’s gonna be even tougher.”
Cousins, who turns 29 in August, was an All-Star for four consecutive seasons prior to signing with the Warriors. The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, he spent his first six seasons with the Kings, then was shipped to the Pelicans in February 2017, and spent the remainder of that season and all of the next with New Orleans.
Among active players, he ranks 11th in points per game (21.25) and fifth in rebounds (10.9) for his career.
Rondo was one of several veteran free agents who signed a one-year deal with the Lakers after LeBron James landed in Los Angeles last summer.
The veteran point guard’s season got off to a rocky start when he was suspended three games for his role in a multiplayer fight with the Rockets during the Lakers’ home opener in October. That suspension, coupled with a pair of hand injuries, kept Rondo out of 36 games during the season.
When he did play, Rondo remained effective. His 8.0 assists per game would have ranked fifth in the league among point guards if he had qualified. And his 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds represented his highest averages in each of those categories since the 2015-16 season.
Rondo also drew rave reviews for his leadership during a trying Lakers season.
Rondo, 33, is entering his 14th NBA season. The four-time All-Star holds career averages of 10.4 points, 8.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He’s 18th on the NBA’s career assists list and needs 62 to pass Tony Parker.