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DeMarcus Cousins probably won’t be ready to play at start of NBA season

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DeMarcus Cousins is currently a free agent as he continues to recover from the ACL tear he sustained prior to the Lakers’ 2019-20 season.

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NBA: FEB 21 Grizzlies at Lakers Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In October, DeMarcus Cousins tweeted a video of himself working out, complete with soft music and himself talking about his comeback from the ACL tear he suffered in August of 2019 before eventually transitioning into an upbeat hype video featuring his NBA highlights, saying he’s “just gotta go get what’s mine” when he returns to the court. The former Lakers center captioned it simply: “Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.”

It appears that patience is going to be tested for a bit longer, because after over a year of rehabilitation and set to enter free agency, Cousins’ agent told Jeff Kent of SLAM that his client still might not be ready to play when the NBA season begins:

DeMarcus Cousins continues to recover from the left knee injury that cost him his 2019-20 campaign and may not be ready to play on an opening day roster next month.

There haven’t been any specific setbacks, Cousins’ agent Jeff Schwartz tells SLAM, but the former All-Star is intent on returning at full strength and in a situation that’s going to be a good fit for him.

That situation doesn’t necessarily mean the Lakers, but as I’ve written multiple times in this space, prior to this news I’d expected the team to bring Cousins in for a do-over for a variety of reasons, including that he’s thus far rebuffed interest from other teams to focus on continuing to get better, and that the Lakers clearly felt like he was part of this run and valued his presence. Now I’m a little less sure, but it still seems entirely possible they bring him back.

Schwartz told SLAM that wherever Cousins heads in free agency, he’ll be ready to play sooner rather than later, even if it’s not opening night:

After three serious lower body injuries in two seasons, it’s of utmost importance that Cousins is fully ready before he suits up and plays.

Though Schwartz says Cousins is ‘very close’ to ready, it’s the second half of the season that’s going to matter for the 30-year-old in a pivotal comeback season.

Strangely enough considering this came from his own agent, Cousins appeared to respond to the deluge of headlines about him potentially not being ready in the form of a subtweet on Thursday night:

Or maybe he just saw something else he thought was a lie, or “cap.” If not, Avery Bradley and Markieff Morris may not be the only Lakers to change agents this offseason.

But in all seriousness, this is hardly a surprise. While ACL injuries normally take a year to heal, this is Cousins’ third serious injury in a row in the same leg. Expecting him to get back on the floor on the quickest possible timeline was always a fool’s errand, and that goes doubly so when considering how his rehab efforts were likely interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. This is also why if the Lakers do bring him back, they should probably do so while considering anything he gives them to be a bonus rather than relying on him for any meaningful contributions. I’m not a doctor, and maybe he exceeds all common sense expectations, but at his size that hardly seems like the most likely outcome at this point.

NBA free agency begins on Nov. 20, and we’ll see how much interest the Lakers show in a Cousins reunion (especially in the wake of this news) then.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.