Inability to trade for DeMarcus Cousins reportedly helped lead to Lakers firings

All it essentially took for the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings was Buddy Hield and a pair of draft picks, one of which is a second-rounder. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly were also in the bidding for Cousins and perhaps could’ve offered more, but their refusal to include rookie Brandon Ingram ended any possible trade discussion with Sacramento.

And while not including Ingram may be a smart long-term approach by the Lakers, in the short-term this decision reportedly hastened the firing of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak and the promotion of Magic Johnson.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, not getting Cousins was the last straw for Buss and Kupchak:

CBS Sports national columnist Bill Reiter provides a deeper look at how the Lakers’ inability to get Cousins led to the firing of Buss and Kupchak:

One source close to the situation said Kupchak and Jeanie Buss had not spoken since Nov. 1, despite her role as president of basketball operations and the power that gave her to fire Kupchak, and that her brother had resorted to communicating with his sister only through lawyers. The same source said Jeanie never was informed of a potential DeMarcus Cousins trade over the weekend and described a chaotic scene in which Jim Buss insisted low-level basketball officials “vote” on the proposed deal while Jeanie and Magic were left in the dark.

“This is a perfect example of what needs to change,” the source said.

With Kobe Bryant retiring, this is basically the only season in a long time where the Lakers don’t have a star player to build around, or even market the team around. They have plenty of potential with Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Ingram but the Lakers are still in a rebuilding phase and are by no means competing for a playoff spot.

With the roster they have, the Lakers are still a few years away from really becoming a force in the West again, which apparently is no longer good enough for Jeanie Buss.

Whether or not Cousins would have really made the Lakers into a playoff team is up for debate, but clearly Jeanie Buss wanted that type of move to happen. And because it didn’t, she made changes by promoting Johnson and firing Kupchak and her brother. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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