A torn left ACL has sidelined Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins for the entire 2019/20 season so far. However, head coach Frank Vogel still isn’t ruling out the possibility of a Cousins return this spring, as he said over the weekend in Chicago (video link; hat tip to CBS Sports).
“He’s on track to get healthy by the playoffs and we’ll have to see where he’s at with rhythm and conditioning and timing and all that stuff,” Vogel said. “But there’s a possibility he returns this season, yes.”
That ACL tear, suffered last August, is the third major left leg injury Cousins has dealt with since the start of the 2017/18 season. His ’17/18 campaign with the Pelicans came to an early end when he tore his Achilles tendon. After making it back from that injury for the Warriors in 2018/19, he suffered a torn quad at the start of the postseason.
While it would be great to see Cousins get healthy and return to action during the postseason, that sounds like a pretty aggressive recovery timeline, even if the Lakers make a deep playoff run. In recent years, players like Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker, and Kristaps Porzingis, who have suffered torn ACLs, have taken at least 11-12 months to make it back. And it has generally taken them much longer than that to look like their old selves.
Even if Cousins is ready to go at some point this spring, it’s unclear what sort of role he could have in a playoff series. Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee have done an admirable job handing the center position this season, with Anthony Davis also spending some time at the five, and Cousins won’t have any in-game experience with the current roster to develop chemistry.
Although I’m skeptical that Cousins will be able to make a comeback and make an impact for the Lakers this spring, Vogel’s comments – as well as Cousins’ close relationship with several teammates, including Davis – suggest that his roster spot should be safe if the team makes an addition on the buyout market in the coming weeks.