DeMarcus Cousins is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career next summer, and interested teams are already making their moves for one of the league’s top big men. Marc Stein of the New York Times revealed, on this week’s edition of Nate Duncan’s Dunc’d On Podcast, that the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers are the teams eager to make a run at the All-Star center when he hits the market in July.

Mavs vs. Lakers vs. Pelicans for Cousins

The Dallas Mavericks have been trying to land a franchise player-caliber center for the past three to four years, but they haven’t had any luck in free agency.

The goal for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka has always been to land a max-level free agent. However, the Lakers can make room for one more superstar if they find a way to unload Luol Deng and his albatross deal ($18M per year salary).

Stein made it clear that the New Orleans Pelicans remain the front-runners in the Cousins sweepstakes. The Lakers and Mavericks will try to persuade Cousins as much as they can, but the general consensus among rival executives is Boogie, ultimately, will be sticking with his Kentucky Wildcats brothers Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo in Bayou.

“I think the Pelicans are the clear favorites. Now, I would say there’s an expectation – and maybe it’s even speculation on the part of rival teams – but I’ve heard Dallas and the Lakers mentioned most frequently. Those are teams that are expected, whatever ‘expected’ means, to make a run at him,” Stein noted.

Blake Griffin future with the Clippers

Blake Griffin has stepped up as the uncontested leader of the Los Angeles Clippers this season following the departure of Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. That’s said, the power forward’s future with the team is anything but secured.

According to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, the Clippers reached out to the Minnesota Timberwolves and proposed a trade, offering Griffin in exchange for their prized center Karl-Anthony Towns.

As expected, The Clippers’ trade pitch didn’t advance past the exploratory stages as it was quickly rejected by the Wolves front-office.

Griffin, 28, signed a lucrative five-year, $173 million deal to stay with the Clippers just last summer. With Paul now with the Rockets, many view Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as the cornerstones for the Clippers franchise moving forward. However, Scotto’s report proved that Griffin isn’t untouchable after all, especially now that the Clippers are torn between rebuilding and contending for a playoff spot.

Although a mid-season breakup is unlikely, the Clippers could dangle Griffin again in trade discussions in the offseason if they feel the team needs a new direction. Still, moving Griffin would be a tough task for the Clips because of his huge contract ($34MM avg. salary per year) and the decreasing value of traditional big men in today’s market.