Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending rupture of his left Achilles tendon in Friday’s win over the Rockets. The injury occurred with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, a game where Cousins notched his second triple-double in three games with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Cousins will undergo surgery to repair the tendon as soon as possible and his estimated recovery period is 6 to 10 months, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
The loss of Cousins is especially difficult for a Pelicans team that has won its last four games and currently occupies the sixth seed in the Western Conference with a 27-21 record.
“I feel horrible for him,” Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said after Friday’s victory. “Everything that he’s done, and what he’s tried to do for us this year and what he’s made himself and the improvements in all areas that he’s made on and off the court, has just been great. I don’t want that to happen to a guy that’s trying to better himself.”
In 48 games, Cousins, who was selected to be on Team LeBron for the 2018 NBA All-Star game, averaged 25.4 PPG, 12.9 RPG and 5.2 APG.
There has been speculation that Cousins’ injury may lead New Orleans to sell at the deadline despite the team’s playoff positioning. However, Wojnarowski tweets that the team will look to acquire talent as the February 8 trade deadline nears.
As for Cousins, the 27-year-old is set to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. The injury ends Cousins’ hopes of landing a max contract in free agency and casts doubt on his ability to play at the same level once he recovers. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examined four major storylines — including the big man’s offseason value — to monitor following Cousins’ career-altering injury.
A season that had the promise of being Cousins’ first taste of postseason basketball is over and the Pelicans will need to regroup as a club to keep the playoff hope alive.