Reports: Lakers to work out DeMarcus Cousins, Meyers Leonard

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have been peering toward the fringes of the league throughout the season, seeing if there are fresh bodies they can bring in.

Before the season began, they kept Matt Ryan who had stood out in training camp for his shooting. Earlier this month, they signed Sterling Brown to a 10-day contract. They’ve worked out Cody Zeller and Tyler Dorsey this month, looking at adding possible depth.

But according to media reports, the players the Lakers are considering next are going to raise a few more eyebrows.

DeMarcus Cousins, 32, and Meyers Leonard, 30, are expected to work out for the team on Friday, according to Bleacher Report and The Athletic respectively. Cousins was a Laker before, getting injured prior to the 2019-20 season during a summer workout. Leonard has been out of the league since the 2020-21 season, when he was traded by the Miami Heat and waived soon after following an incident when he used an anti-Semitic slur on a Twitch stream in March 2021.

Leonard in particular has drawn a lot of attention: He has not had a reported workout for any NBA team since the Twitch incident, which he apologized for and made some reported efforts to engage the Jewish community. He also had shoulder and ankle surgeries, and complications from the latter have kept him physically off the court.

The Lakers declined to confirm either player’s forthcoming workout. But Coach Darvin Ham said the team owes it to themselves to scour for opportunities to improve the roster if such moves can be found.

“At the end of the day, we’re constantly looking for what’s out there and just being aware,” he said. “There’s nothing else. That doesn’t mean people are going to make our roster.”

Cousins last played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets last season, averaging 9 points and 5.6 rebounds on 46% shooting. In Leonard’s last full NBA season, he averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 41.4% from 3-point range. Leonard faced the Lakers in the NBA Finals with the Heat, but only played in two of the six games.

The Lakers have gotten less production than hoped out of Damian Jones, who came into Thursday’s game averaging 2.9 points and 2.8 rebounds and completely out of the regular rotation. With All-Star Anthony Davis sidelined with a right foot injury, the Lakers have made do with Thomas Bryant and Wenyen Gabriel as the team’s centers, and LeBron James and Juan Toscano-Anderson as power forwards.

Ham said he’d prefer to talk less, however, about prospective roster additions than the players he already has.

“At the end of the day, I don’t want to be going back and forth about things that are traditional NBA steps that they take in order to improve the roster,” he said. “Because me, again, my staff and I, we’re trying to get our heads above water with the guys that we got in the locker room.”

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As a longtime assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, Ham came to the Lakers with a reputation as a forger of strong relationships within his teams. After practice on Wednesday, Ham said that hasn’t changed – he still tries to get close to players and help handle their needs off the court.

With the trade deadline approaching in less than a month, Ham said he understands it’s a tough time for many players, but he hopes they maintain a business-like approach.

“Hopefully they get some type of understanding,” he said. “It’s nothing personal; it’s just the business of basketball. Just like the players become free agents and they look for who has the most money to spend or what’s a fun place they may want to go play in. As an organization, we’re not supposed to take that personal, right? So, at the same token, as an organization, we’re looking to see it all, every end, leave no stone unturned how we can improve our roster, or improve our personnel, then that’s just the nature of the business of getting better.”

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