DeMarcus Cousins going down for the year was unfortunate on many levels, and there’s no real way to spin it as a positive. Cousins had already been picked to LeBron’s All-Star team, though, meaning a replacement was required.
Now, thanks to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, we know that replacement will be Oklahoma City wing Paul George:
OKC’s Paul George has replaced DeMarcus Cousins in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 28, 2018
This is notable mostly for how much it sucks that Cousins won’t be a part of the game and weekend, much less the rest of the season; Cousins’ injury also highlights how it’s tough to expect NBA players to play all-out for an exhibition, playground roster selection or not. (Not that we needed another example, but Paul George’s teammate Andre Roberson was also probably lost for the season on Saturday night.)
George likely won’t start, given his late addition, and the final decision on who replaces Cousins in the LeBron lineup will be made by whoever the coach ends up being. Via Yahoo:
The head coach of Team LeBron — determined by the East’s best record through Feb. 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.
Earlier this week, the Internet had some fun with the fact Paul George didn’t make the game while Victor Oladipo did; that’s still funny, of course. It’s also interesting that Westbrook ended up getting his way; though his comments about George’s ommission being ridiculous (comments that also seemed to take a swipe at Damian Lillard) weren’t the deciding factor, they do seem prescient now.
George received the most voting points from coaches among Western Conference players who were not named as All-Star reserves.
Earlier this week, Westbrook called George’s omission from the All-Star team “just outrageous,” complaining about one team (the Golden State Warriors) having four selections and suggesting others were chosen after complaining about previous snubs or promoting their own candidacy. The latter point was presumed to be a shot at Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who called Westbrook’s comments “disappointing.”
Paul George responded to those comments by hinting he’d be staying in Oklahoma City at the end of the year. (He’s totally leaving, guys.) Now they’ll get to team up for the All-Star Game, along with Oladipo, who’s reunited with his old teammate in Westbrook and the man he was traded for in George.
There are plenty of storylines, though there won’t be much defense.