A Look at Possible Returns from Cousins, Thomas, and Porzingis

December 20, 2018 | insideinjuries | No Comments kristaps porzingis knee injury

With the holidays and the start of the New Year just around the corner, a few NBA players who had been out with serious injuries are slowly working their way back into the lineup. DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas’ returns have some added pressure as they return to new teams, while Kristaps Porzingis just hopes to make it back on the court sometime this season.

DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors: left Achilles tendon tear

DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn left Achilles 11 months ago, in January 2018 while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. As he closes in on a return, a lot of things have changed for Cousins. He’s now a member of the Golden State Warriors, so his return will also be a debut with his new team. He’s also suffered an injury that often times ends an athlete’s career. Achilles tendon ruptures is arguably the most difficult injury to recover from, and comes with High Risk even after the tendon has been surgically repaired. On top of the likelihood of future aggravations to the surgically repaired Achilles, there is also risk of suffering an injury to the opposite Achilles.

Because of these risk factors, Achilles tendon recoveries generally taken at least 1 year to fully heal. It’s possible to return in as little as 9 months, but it’s extremely rare for a professional athlete. The good news is that Cousins has not had any signs of a setback, and has now begun practicing as a full participant. Soon, he will begin playing with the Warriors G-League affiliate and getting back into game-shape. The earliest we expect to see Cousins in the Warriors’ lineup in late January, though a February return would be safer. He remains an Elevated Injury Risk.

Isaiah Thomas, Denver Nuggets: hip surgery

Though he underwent hip surgery in March, Isaiah Thomas‘ injury woes started way before then. Thomas suffered a labral tear in his right hip in May 2017. He opted not to undergo surgery, which could be the reason his injury has lingered this long. After 7 months of rehab, Thomas made his return as well as his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers. To say that Thomas looked “off” would be an understatement. He barely looked like the same athlete, and it was obvious he felt uncomfortable on the court. That led to him being traded to the Lakers, where things didn’t go much better. In March, Thomas met with a specialist in New York and decided to undergo surgery on his ailing hip. He was given a recovery time of 4 months, which Inside Injuries immediately identified as being too short.

It was a terrible contract year for Thomas, who ended up signing a one-year deal with the Nuggets. Thomas is now 9 months removed from surgery, but is expected to make his return in December or January. Given the setbacks he’s experienced and lengthy absence, the Nuggets will likely ease Thomas into the lineup very slowly. There is hope that surgery helped to put the injury to rest once and for all, but we won’t know for sure until Thomas is back in game-action. Thomas will continue to be a High Injury Risk.

Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks: torn ACL

While Kristaps Porzingis claims he’s ready to get back on the court right now, it’s more likely his return comes this spring. He suffered the torn ACL last February, and these types of injuries usually end up taking over a full year to completely heal, especially for larger athletes. The good news is that ACL surgery has become so successful, that Porzingis should be fine once he returns. He’s progressed well in rehab, though he’s been limited to jogging and shooting until recently.

Porzingis told reporters in November that he was already taking contact in practice, but those were just in rehab sessions. Coach David Fizdale hasn’t been forthcoming with a return date, and has even suggested that Porzingis may not return this season. Given that the Knicks are not playoff contenders, they want to be extremely cautious with their young star. Porzingis was already a High Injury Risk last season before he suffered the ACL tear, so being overly cautious is the smartest move here. As long as he doesn’t suffer a setback, Porzingis should be medically healed this spring, but the Knicks may choose to hold him out until the start of next season.