On Thursday afternoon, news began to filter through that Los Angeles Lakers’ centre Demarcus Cousins had ruptured the ACL in his left knee after bumping knees with another player during an offseason.
The injury is a devastating blow for Cousins personally – coming off an injury-interrupted and overall frustrating season with the Golden State Warriors – but also for the Lakers’ championship chances, and really the league as a whole.
The spectacle of Cousins, LeBron James and Anthony Davis lining up side-by-side was one which tantalised all basketball fans, and we may now never get the chance to see it.
In the last 18 months the unfortunate Cousins has now torn his Achilles (Feb 2018), his left quad (April 2019) and now his left ACL.
Injuries have cruelled the career of the 29-year-old 4 time All-Star and 2 time All-NBA second-teamer. In flashes – particularly in 2017 and early in the 2018 season – he showed the potential to be one of the most outstanding players in the league.
While his defense has always been suspect, his offense – as evidenced by an average of better than 27 points per game in 2016-17 – has always been at an elite level.
In 30 games with the Warriors last season, Cousins averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, but at times (whether through injury or poor form) looked like a liability on the floor. Los Angeles – bereft of options after waiting on the Kawhi decision – through him a bone with a $3.5 million deal.
The injury is a crushing dent to the Lakers’ chances of making it out of the stacked Western Conference. They are now left with almost no options in free agency and, given most of their playing list were signed in free agency already, making a trade is impossible until at least December 15.
The available free agent centre list is led by Joakim Noah and rounded out by Dwight Howard. Yeah, it’s grim.
The best option may be to make do with JaVale McGee & Anthony Davis for the moment, and maybe even attempt some small-ball lineups with Kyle Kuzma or even LeBron at the 5.
Otherwise, they will have to wait until mid-December to have a crack at second-rate guys like Nerlens Noel and Aron Baynes when the time comes for the Thunder and Suns to pack their bags and begin the tanking season.
The other option is to wait even longer until the February buy-out period, and try to get their hands on Tristan Thompson, Meyers Leonard or similar highly-paid guys of that ilk.
Nothing is ideal at this point, and LeBron’s chance of extending his legacy with a championship in Tinseltown just took a significant hit.
Written and produced for Sportstips.com by Eddie Dadds