EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins is facing rehab from another major injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers have endured their first big problem of a season with championship expectations.

Cousins was diagnosed Thursday with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury that could sideline him for much – if not all – of this coming season. Cousins’ agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, said a timeline for surgery is being discussed.

Cousins got hurt earlier this week in a workout in Las Vegas. The ACL tear came about 18 months after he ruptured his left Achilles, and roughly four months after he tore his left quadriceps muscle.

Those previous injuries cost him a lot of games and a lot of money. This injury is only going to add to those totals.

“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 Thursday, shortly after the severity of Cousins’ injury was confirmed.

The Achilles tear preceded Cousins’ 2018 trip to free agency, where he could have commanded a multiyear deal exceeding $100 million. He wound up having to sign a one-year, $5.3 million contract with Golden State.

And this summer, again after dealing with injury, Cousins had to settle for much less than the going rate for someone averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career. He signed with the Lakers on another one-year deal, this time for $3.5 million.

“I’ve told y’all before I don’t take any of this for granted,” Cousins said in June, during the NBA finals where he and the Warriors lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors. “I’ve seen how quick this game can be taken away from you. So every chance I get to go out there and play, I’m going to leave it on the floor.”

This could have been a massive year for Cousins, who was going to get a chance to play with LeBron James and reunite with his former New Orleans teammate, Anthony Davis, with the Lakers – a team with major aspirations after an offseason roster overhaul.

A big year could have set Cousins up for a significant contract next summer. It’s unclear if he’ll play at all before returning to the open market.

The Lakers, even without Cousins, still figure to have more than enough talent to end a stretch of six consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, by far the longest un in franchise history.

James returns after an injury-marred season where he averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists. Davis – a six-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA performer – was acquired in a blockbuster trade with New Orleans, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo were re-signed, and Danny Green chose to sign with the Lakers for two years and $30 million after helping Toronto win the NBA title.

But without Cousins, there’s a bit of a void on the roster at center. Among current Lakers, only Davis and McGee have spent any significant time at that position.

MARCUS SMART has missed the past week of the USA men’s national team camp with calf tightness. He remains with the team and could return to practice soon.

“He’s going to be a day-to-day type of thing,” Coach Gregg Popovich said. “Probably won’t practice the next couple of days, I wouldn’t think.”

The team is practicing at the Lakers’ practice facility for a few days before taking on the Spanish national team in an exhibition Friday night.

“Right now, for me, I’m trying to grow as a player … taking those precautions,” Smart said after the injury last week. “Last year, or two or three years ago, I probably would have still been out there trying to fight through it. It’s nothing serious so we just want to make sure it doesn’t turn into anything serious.”

Team USA will move from Los Angeles to Australia to begin training Aug. 19 in Melbourne. They’ll practice for three days before an Aug. 22 exhibition against the Australian national team.

The FIBA World Cup begins Aug. 31 in China. The games will be played in eight cities over 16 days and serve as one way Team USA could directly qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Team USA will begin the tournament in Group E with Turkey, the Czech Republic and Japan.


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