Photo courtesy of USA TODAY

L.A. Lakers center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins has been in a downward spiral for the last couple of years. First, he ruptured his Achilles tendon; then, he ruptured his quad. Now, he’s torn his ACL.

Once the X-factor for the Lakers, Cousins would’ve been a steal at $3.5 million a year. However, his injuries have cost more than $100 million dollars and he’s nowhere near his All-Star level.

As Cousins now enters rehab, the Lakers look for his replacement.  Let’s consider the possibilities.

Joakim Noah

Noah is the most versatile defender without a team. After a disappointing stint with the Knicks, he had a positive impact on a young Memphis Grizzlies team. Noah has a wealth of experience playing for a contender when he was of a part of the Chicago Bulls in the early 2010s.

While his offensive game never developed, his energy and active rim-protecting skills remain at a high level. Noah would instantly improve the Lakers’ defense. His defense expertise could also help Anthony Davis defend fours instead of fives as Davis dislikes playing centers.

Marcin Gortat

Gortat is one of the most underrated big men in the NBA. He’s always been consistent on offense and defense. He’s far removed from his best season in the league where he averaged 15 points and seven rebounds.

He might be a better fit than Noah because Gortat can bring an offensive punch off the bench. He can also stretch the floor with his three-point shots. He played for the Clippers, so he might be able to adjust to the city and play in the same building quicker than anyone else the Lakers could grab.

Dwight Howard

Howard is currently under contract with the Grizzlies. But, the Grizzlies have been open to buying out his contract. The Lakers have already reached out and shown interest in a reunion.

The pick and roll of LeBron James and Howard could be the best in the NBA. While Howard’s athletic ability has slowly left, he’s still a big body presence who can dunk, grab rebounds and play defense.

Howard only played in nine games last season for the Washington Wizards due to a gluteal injury. However, when Howard was healthy, he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets.

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