EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins is now facing rehab from another major injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers have endured their first big problem of a season with championship expectations.

Cousins was diagnosed Thursday with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury that could sideline the six-time All-Star big man for much — if not all — of this coming season. Cousins’ agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, said a timeline for surgery is being discussed.

Cousins got hurt earlier this week in a workout in Las Vegas. The ACL tear comes about 18 months after he ruptured his left Achilles, and roughly four months after he tore his left quadriceps muscle.

Those previous injuries cost him a lot of games and a lot of money.

This injury is only going to add to those totals.

“He was going to be a big part of what we’re going to do,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said after USA Basketball practice at the Lakers’ facility on Thursday, shortly after the severity of Cousins’ injury was confirmed.

The Achilles tear preceded Cousins’ 2018 trip to free agency, one where he could have commanded a multi-year deal exceeding $100 million. He wound up having to sign a one-year, $5.3 million contract with Golden State.

And this summer, again after dealing with injury, Cousins had to settle for much less than the going rate for someone averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career. He signed with the Lakers on another one-year deal, this time for $3.5 million.

“I’ve told y’all before I don’t take any of this for granted,” Cousins said in June, during the NBA Finals where he and the Warriors lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors. “I’ve seen how quick this game can be taken away from you. So every chance I get to go out there and play, I’m going to leave it on the floor.”

BASEBALL

Minor league owner refuses to meet with Muslim civil rights group

NORWICH, Conn. — The owner of two minor league baseball teams is refusing to meet with a Muslim civil rights group, accusing it of supporting terrorists.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sought a meeting with E. Miles Prentice, owner of the Single-A Connecticut Tigers and Double-A Midland (Texas) RockHounds. CAIR is concerned that Prentice is chairman of the Center for Security Policy, an organization identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group.

Prentice said Thursday he considers the SPLC “radical leftists” and sees no use in “meeting with, or otherwise legitimating, those who seek to silence us or are associated with terrorist organizations like Hamas.”

competitive eating

Taco-eating contestant died from choking

FRESNO, Calif. — A Northern California coroner said a man choked to death while participating in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game.

The Fresno County sheriff-coroner’s office released the cause of death for 41-year-old Dana Hutchings after an autopsy on Thursday. He died after Tuesday night’s contest at the Fresno Grizzlies game.

Witness Matthew Boylan told the Fresno Bee he noticed Hutchings was eating much more quickly than the two other contestants and did not appear to be chewing his food.

He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground. The eating contest ended immediately.

FOOTBALL

ESPN hires Del Rio as analyst

Jack Del Rio never shied away from giving his opinion as a player and a coach. He isn’t about to change his approach as an ESPN analyst.

ESPN announced the hiring Thursday of the former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders coach. His first appearance will be today on “NFL Live.”

Del Rio appeared as a guest analyst on ESPN during March. He’ll appear on various programs as well as analyze some games on ESPN Radio during the season.

Georgia Tech QB granted 6th year

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech quarterback Lucas Johnson has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Johnson can play three more college seasons after the decision announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback was granted the additional year after seeing action in just one of his first three seasons. He was redshirted in 2016 and missed all of last season with a foot injury.

AUTO RACING

Earnhardt Jr. OK after plane crash

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is safe and in a hospital for evaluation after his plane crashed in east Tennessee, the NASCAR television analyst and retired driver’s sister tweeted.

Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that the driver’s wife, Amy, and 15-month-old daughter, Isla, also were on the plane along with two pilots.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Man who poisoned Auburn tree behind on restitution payments

AUBURN, Ala. — A prosecutor wants to know why a University of Alabama fan who pleaded guilty to poisoning landmark oak trees at Auburn University isn’t making court-ordered restitution payments.

Harvey Updyke was ordered to appear in court Oct. 30 to explain himself, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes told WRBL-TV.

Updyke served more than 70 days in jail in 2013 and was ordered to pay about $800,000 in restitution after admitting to poisoning trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. Fans traditionally rolled the trees with toilet paper after a win, but the original oaks died after being doused with herbicide.

The Associated Press

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