DeMarcus Cousins planned to prove doubters wrong while playing on a one-year contract with the Lakers this season.
Those hopes might have been dealt a crushing blow this week because of a knee injury.
Cousins, who turned 29 on Tuesday, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after colliding with another player during a workout in Las Vegas, his agent, Jeff Schwartz, confirmed. A timeline for surgery is being discussed.
The injury occurred Monday during a five-on-five pickup game, but wasn't initially believed to be serious. Cousins was able to walk without any visible limitations and initial examinations didn't reveal major problems. Not until the next day did concerns arise that his condition was more serious.
The last time Cousins was fully healthy, he was an All-Star and widely considered one of the league's best centers. Injuries have ravaged him lately, though. During the 2017-18 season, his first full season with the New Orleans Pelicans after being traded there the previous February, Cousins was playing some of the best basketball of his career. Then, in January 2018, he sustained a torn Achilles tendon.
Cousins signed a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors before last season and was able to play again in January 2019. Three months later, he sustained a quadriceps injury that caused him to miss most of the playoffs.
After signing another one-year deal, this time with the Lakers, Cousins had very clear goals in mind.
"I'm working my tail off every single day," Cousins said recently. "My quad is 100 percent healed. I'm building it up every day, I'm building my lower body up every single day. I'm getting stronger, getting in better shape.
"My plan is to come into camp in tip-top shape. My goal is to play 82 games this season. I want a full season of health."
Staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.