Cousins out for season, George named to All-Star Game
New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins, set for a starting appearance in the NBA All-Star Game next month, will instead miss the remainder of the season, the club announced on Saturday.
Cousins will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon suffered when he was going for a rebound late in the Pelicans' 115-113 victory over Houston on Friday.
An MRI exam confirmed the extent of the injury and the need for surgery for the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist, whose spot on the LeBron James All-Star roster will be taken by Oklahoma City's Paul George.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver named George to the LeBron lineup to challenge Stephen Curry's squad in next month's All-Star contest, but it will be James who decides which player replaces Cousins as a starter.
Paired with fellow big man Anthony Davis, Cousins had helped push the Pelicans toward their first playoff appearance since 2015 and what would have been the first postseason trip of his eight-season NBA career, six of those campaigns with Sacramento.
Cousins is averaging 25.2 points and 1.6 blocked shots a game as well as career highs of 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game.
He ranked third in the league in rebounds and eighth in scoring.
George received the most voting points from coaches among Western Conference players who were not named as All-Star reserves.
The head coach of Team LeBron — determined by the East's best record through February 4 — will choose who fills Cousins' spot in the starting lineup. Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is not eligible for the honor after coaching in last year's All-Star Game.
The other Team LeBron reserves are the LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.
George's All-Star selection is the fifth of his career, including his third in a row. In his first year with the Thunder, the 27-year-old is averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 36.4 minutes per game.
Also announcing a season-ending surgery on Saturday were the Memphis Grizzlies, who declared the campaign over for guard Mike Conley.
Conley, who had been sidelined since November, will undergo surgery to smooth a small bone protrusion in his left heel that continues to cause pain. He is expected to recover in time for the 2018-19 season.
The 30-year-old son of 1992 Olympic triple jump champion Mike Conley Sr has played 11 NBA seasons, all for the Grizzlies.
In 12 games this season, Conley averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds a game.