Lakers agree with Cousins, bring back Rondo

Who will play defense for the Lakers? (2:27)

Amin Elhassan likes the roster the Lakers put together after Kawhi Leonard chose the Clippers, but his one question is about their defense. (2:27)

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent center DeMarcus Cousins. They are also bringing back point guard Rajon Rondo on a two-year contract, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

Agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports told ESPN that Cousins' deal is worth $3.5 million. Sources said Rondo will make $2.6 million and holds a player option for the second year.

The Miami Heat had interest in Cousins, but several Lakers players -- including his former New Orleans Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis -- helped convince him to join the Lakers, league sources said.

Also on Saturday, free-agent guard Alex Caruso agreed to a 2-year, $5.5 million deal to return to the Lakers, a league source told ESPN.

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 surgery on the Achilles -- and ended up playing 30 regular-season games, averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

He was at his best in April, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds 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 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, 6-assist gem in Golden State's Game 2 win in Toronto.

Cousins said the significant injuries had him contemplating whether he wanted to continue playing.

"I was just ready to quit," he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols in June. "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 Sacramento Kings before being shipped to the Pelicans in February 2017, spending the remainder of that season and all of 2017-18 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 Houston 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 NBA among point guards if he had qualified. His 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds represented his highest averages in each category since 2015-16. 

He 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 1.7 steals per game. He is 18th on the NBA's career assists list and needs 62 to pass Tony Parker.