DeMarcus Cousins leaves USA Basketball practice with leg injury; tweets he’s fine

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UPDATE 7:03 pm: Cousins tweeted out this in the wake of the injury.

If you don’t want to take the player’s word for it, how about a doctor? Here is the official statement from USA Basketball:

According to USA Basketball team physician Dr. Lisa Callahan (Hospital for Special Surgery/New York Knicks), an MRI was done and revealed no structural damage. Cousins is listed as day-to-day.

He’s day to day, just like the rest of us (to quote Olbermann). So, nothing to see here, move along, I guess. Still, here is the original story from someone at the practice. — Kurt Helin

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CHICAGO — DeMarcus Cousins went down with what appeared to be a right leg injury about two minutes into the final scrimmage of the day at Thursday’s USA Basketball practice.

There was complete silence in the gym when Cousins hit the deck, with everyone holding their collective breath in hopes that nothing serious had occurred, like it did with Paul George and the injury he suffered at the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas.

Cousins remained there for a minute or two before gingerly walking off the floor with the assistance of trainers.

Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team Managing Director, said afterward that the initial word was that the injury wasn’t believed to be serious. But an MRI was scheduled just to be safe.

“We think it’s going to be precautionary,” Colangelo said. “At least that’s our hope and expectation based on what the doctor and trainers are saying, but we need an MRI just to be sure. He needs that, too, for his own mental well-being. He said he got a little scared, obviously, when you go down after we had that prior injury. So let’s just hope for the best.”

Cousins looked good on one of the first few possessions of the game, getting the ball down low and spinning around a defender to score off the glass. He isn’t expected to play this week, and the severity of the injury could factor into his chances for making the squad, considering they plan to cut down to 12 players once the team finishes with exhibitions in New York at the end of next week.

“The plan has always been that when we leave New York, we would like to be at 12,” Colangelo said. “But I think we have to be flexible.  It’s always been that our situation is fluid, and hopefully, we have no other injuries. Chances are Cousins won’t be able to play this week. I can’t believe he would, because even if he’s 100 percent OK, he’s going to have to rest a little bit and get treatments.”

Colangelo said he addressed the team at the morning meeting and talked about what he called “the Paul George situation,” but seeing another member of the team go down — even with something that initially isn’t believed to be serious — had him searching for answers.

“I don’t want to say we’re snakebit, but you start wondering about things,” Colangelo said. “I want to get this one past us. Let’s just hope that he’s healthy.”

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.