NBA players and coaches sent messages of sympathy to Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins after news broke that he suffered an ACL tear that may sideline him for the entire season, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Team USA was working out in the Lakers’ practice facility when the news broke on Thursday.
“I’m devastated for DeMarcus,” said Steve Kerr, who coached Cousins with the Warriors last season. “It’s been a couple years of hell for DeMarcus with the injuries, first the Achilles and then last year in the playoffs with the quad. I was really hoping that this would be a year for him upcoming with the Lakers where he could get healthy, get his rhythm, get his conditioning and really start his comeback. We’re all crushed for him, everybody in this gym, all these fellow players and coaches.”
Along with the physical toll, the injuries have impacted Cousins financially as he appeared to be in line for a max contract last summer that would have paid $207MM him over five years if he had stayed healthy. Now he may be looking at another veteran’s minimum deal in 2020.
“It hurt, man, breaks my heart,” Rockets forward P.J. Tucker said. “DeMarcus is such a good guy. He’s one of the best bigs I’ve ever played against — ever. He’s amazing. And to see somebody like that get hurt, fight to come back, get in shape, lose weight, do all this stuff, and then get hurt again, man, it’s heartbreaking, honestly.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Cousins’ injury may force Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma into significant minutes at center, and he tells Amick that he’s using his time with Team USA to get ready for that possibility. “One thing that’s going to prepare me well playing with USA Basketball is they really like my versatility and how I can play the three, four and put me at the five a little bit,” Kuzma said. “Last year, I didn’t really have experience with that, but now USA Basketball is allowing me to work on those things. And if (Lakers coach Frank) Vogel wants me to do that, that’s what I gotta do.”
- The combination of a tough travel schedule and no guarantee of playing time may have convinced De’Aaron Fox to leave Team USA, suggests James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Americans will spend 12 days in Australia and maybe 17 days in China, then the Kings have a preseason trip to India. Ham notes that amounts to about 40,000 air miles before the season begins.
- The Suns are poised to make the biggest improvement this season, according to projections from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. His formula has Phoenix doubling its win total from 19 to 38.