This move is less about Quinn Cook and more about the Lakers looking ahead and needing financial flexibility.
The Lakers are going to waive reserve guard Cook, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Lakers valued Cook, but because of their hard-cap status, this gives the franchise flexibility to play the buyout market. They will be a compelling destination for perspective buyout players. https://t.co/QkQ8Q16SgY
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2021
This is all about money.
The Lakers are hard-capped this season because they used their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to land Montrezl Harrell, and they used their bi-annual exception to get Wesley Matthews (either one of those moves would have triggered the hard cap). That tax-apron hard cap is set at $138.9 million — the Lakers cannot go above that number for any reason, and are already almost bumping up against it.
With Cook, the Lakers would have only one shot to improve the roster for the playoffs: They could sign one player to a pro-rated veteran minimum contract. That’s it — one guy.
But if the Lakers waive Cook, who’s on an unguaranteed minimum contract, they have a little more flexibility.
Los Angeles has been rumored to have interest in DeMarcus Cousins, whom the Rockets are also waiving:
The Rockets guaranteed Cousins salary, clearly only as a favor. The only question was whether they’d part with him via trade or waiver. Releasing Cousins grants him full freedom to choose his next team (assuming he clears waivers).
That could be the Lakers, although that seems a questionable fit. Blake Griffin is a player who could end up available.
The buyout market is going to be very competitive this season. The Lakers are among a lot of teams looking to add players — Brooklyn and Boston, in particular, have an interest and money to spend — but with a lot of teams eyeing those play-in games, there may be fewer players bought out and on the market. That’s a lot of demand and less supply, which will drive up prices.
The Lakers would have options.
Cook almost certainly will land with another team quickly, a few teams are looking for point guard help.