The Los Angeles Lakers struck bargain gold when they managed to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a one year, $3.5 million deal in free agency.
Had Cousins been able to return to somewhat of his former self, he could’ve been the third All-Star player the Lakers needed to cement themselves at the top of the league.
However, it was announced that Cousins tore his left ACL while ‘bumping knees’ with another player during a Las Vegas workout. Beyond just the effect this will have on the 2019-20 NBA season, this is Cousins’ third major injury in the past two seasons and could permanently affect his career.
Kyle Kuzma, who’ll take on a bigger role in Cousins’ absence, spoke about what the injury means for the team and how they will try to bounce back from it, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press:
“He was going to be a big part of what we’re going to do,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said after USA Basketball practice at the Lakers’ facility on Thursday, shortly after the severity of Cousins’ injury was confirmed.
Kuzma also spoke about the toll an injury like that could take on Cousins mentally and emotionally, especially with how often he’s had to deal with this is recent seasons:
“It’s no joke when you get injured,” Kuzma said. “This is our livelihood and is something that we love to do. It’s super-unfortunate for a guy like DeMarcus. You can tell how much he loves basketball through all these injuries — he’s fought back and tried to get back as early as possible. That’s kind of how the ball goes sometimes.”
For Cousins, he will likely deal with a 9-12 month recovery window where the best-case scenario would make him ready to return just in time for the 2020 NBA playoffs. It’s unclear whether or not that will be possible, but it’s something to look forward to during the regular season.
For the Lakers, they’ll have to rely more on a duo of Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee at the center position, despite Davis openly saying he’d rather be the full-time power forward. And in that situation, Kuzma will be the one who sees a big minutes increase.
This injury now makes it even more important that Kuzma takes the big leap from role player to third All-Star player as the drop off between Davis and LeBron James and their next best player just became astronomically larger.