DeMarcus Cousins Discusses Injury Rehab, NBA Restart Bubble, Playing in Finals

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2020

Injured Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins (15) in the second half overtime of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Denver. The Lakers won 120-116 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

DeMarcus Cousins doesn't regret opting out of the NBA restart to focus on his rehab, but he's missing the game more than ever.  

"I miss basketball in general. I've been playing this game since I was a kid, and I've never been away from it for this long, so I'm missing it more than ever," Cousins told Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated. "But due to the circumstances, it's a different game right now. Nothing but respect to the guys who went out there to the bubble and are doing what they're doing.

"For me, it just wasn't the right situation or the right time to be trying to force myself. It's already me battling to get healthy and the obstacles in front of me. On top of that to add the different elements that are amongst us, it wasn't the right time for me. I look forward to next season."

Cousins suffered a torn ACL last August in a pickup game. He had signed a one-year contract with the Lakers, who waived him in February to create roster space. While it's likely Cousins could have signed with a team for the Orlando restart, he decided it was in his best long-term interest to continue rehabbing. 

Cousins said he's paid attention to the games from afar and is appreciative of the league's efforts to normalize the games as much as possible in Orlando. That said, not being on the floor has weighed on him:

"It's tough, no lie. I'd be lying to say it's been an easy journey or it hasn't been tough. It's definitely been a rough journey. But that's the nature of this business. That's what separates the guys that last 15 years in the league to the guys that have a short stint.

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"The thing that I preach to a lot of young players and the younger generation in general, when it comes to being successful or being the best you can be in the business, whatever the field may be, it's going to take a commitment. There's going to be ups and downs but as long as you're committed to whatever you're doing in life, that's what it's going to take. I accept this is part of the business. All I can do is work my tail off to get back to where I want to be."

Cousins suffered a ruptured Achilles in January 2018, setting off two of the worst seasons of his career. He returned midway through the 2018-19 season with the Golden State Warriors but later tore his quad in the second game of the playoffs. After briefly returning and struggling during the NBA Finals, Cousins went into free agency hoping a one-year stint with the Lakers would improve his standing around the league and perhaps get him a championship.

"I'm just appreciative of the moment. There's not a lot of people who get to say they've played in the Finals. I'm somebody that can say that," Cousins said of his Finals experience. "Was it under the circumstances that I wanted? No. But I'm still appreciative of that moment."

Once again a free agent, Cousins will likely have to latch on to another team 2020-21 on a one-year deal to re-establish himself as one of the league's best big men.