But, in just the second playoff game of his career, Cousins suffered an injury that’s as bad as feared after doctors got a look at the MRI. From the Warriors’ official press release:
“The MRI confirmed that Cousins has suffered a torn left quadriceps muscle. The injury will sideline Cousins indefinitely and he will begin rehabilitation immediately.”
The fast end of the recovery timeline has Cousins back for the Finals, if the Warriors make it. More likely he is done for the season.
This is such a bummer for Cousins. He missed the end of last season – including the Pelicans’ playoff run – with a torn Achilles, worked his way back and now this.
For a 28-year-old big man, multiple significant leg injuries are quite concerning. The timing is just awful. Not only was Cousins just beginning his long-awaited playoff run, he will be a free agent this summer.
This increases the chances Golden State re-signs him. Unless the Warriors clear cap space or reduce payroll enough to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, the highest salary they can offer is just $6,404,400. If Cousins re-signs for that on another one-year deal, his highest starting salary with Golden State in 2020 would be just $11,207,700 (again, unless the Warriors open cap space). But, after this injury, other teams might not rush to offer Cousins more financial security this summer.
In the meantime, the Warriors have more pressing concerns. They’re trying to win a title this year.
They’re prepared for Cousins to be unavailable. Considering his torn Achilles, they had to be. Golden State has several capable options at center: Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell. Looney or Bogut will likely start with Green playing high-leverage situations at center. I doubt Bell cracks the rotation, but he still provides insurance.