Kings center DeMarcus Cousins escaped serious injury Thursday afternoon when he hit the floor during Team USA’s practice in Chicago. Still, he’ll likely miss Saturday’s exhibition game against Brazil.
Cousins hurt his right knee when he got tangled with the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis after both big men crashed to the floor while going after a loose ball during a scrimmage.
“Thanks for the concern, I’m fine,” Cousins tweeted after the injury.
An MRI revealed no structural damage, according to USA Basketball team physician Dr. Lisa Callahan.
“Nothing significant; just bruising,” said Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, reached by phone later in the day. “Luckily, it was just a scare.”
Thursday’s practice was the first for the men’s national team since Indiana Pacers forward Paul George broke his right leg in Las Vegas on Aug. 1. The team is preparing for the FIBA World Cup in Spain on Aug. 30-Sept. 14.
Cousins was helped from the court, and he watched the end of the scrimmage with a large bag of ice on his knee. He covered his face with a towel as trainers milled around his table near the gym’s bleachers, but he was able to take a few steps while players came off the floor.
“I think everything turned out OK,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s day-to-day at this point.”
Davis is considered certain to be on the final Team USA roster, and Cousins is competing with the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond and the Brooklyn Nets’ Mason Plumlee for one of the expected two backup spots, though all four could make the team.
“Definitely scary, not just the fact that he went down, but the fact that I actually was the one who dove on him,” Davis told The Associated Press. “I kind of feel bad and I hope he’s fine, because he really wants to be here. He really wants to play.”
Despite Cousins’ minor injury and George’s more gruesome injury, D’Alessandro said the Kings have no qualms about Cousins’ and forward Rudy Gay’s participation for Team USA.
“We’re still very excited about this opportunity,” D’Alessandro said. “We want our guys playing and practicing during the offseason, and what better environment to do that. (They are) playing at the highest level with the top people.
“They are playing with purpose, playing for your country. ... They’re competing every practice, every game, against better-conditioned athletes, and they’re picking up something beyond basketball from Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) and Jerry Colangelo (managing director of USA Basketball).”
Team USA is scheduled to practice again today as it prepares for Saturday’s game at the United Center. The roster is at 16 players after Gay replaced Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who withdrew last week, saying he “could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.”
The team will practice in New York beginning Monday and will play the Dominican Republic on Aug. 20 and Puerto Rico on Aug. 22. The final 12 players will be selected before the team travels to Spain late next week. The team’s final World Cup tuneup will be against Slovenia on Aug. 26 in Gran Canaria, Spain, and its first World Cup game will be Aug. 30 against Finland in Bilbao, Spain.
D’Alessandro said he thinks Cousins and Gay have a good chance to make the 12-man roster – and he said that’s a good thing for the team.
“It’s great for fans, great for DeMarcus and great for Sacramento,” D’Alessandro said. “Hopefully, they get to put on USA jerseys and represent their country.”