Cousins not ready to re­turn, but takes part in scrim­mage

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS - By Lo­gan Mur­dock lmur­dock@ba­yare­anews­group.com

OAK­LAND » In­jured War­riors cen­ter DeMar­cus Cousins par­tic­i­pated in a full scrim­mage af­ter prac­tice Thurs­day af­ter­noon. The scrim­mage, which fea­tured Damian Jones, Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook and a num­ber of as­sis­tant coaches, was the lat­est pos­i­tive sign in Cousins’ re­hab from a torn Achilles ten­don.

Last week, the War­riors an­nounced that the All-Star big man would ramp up ac­tiv­i­ties. Dur­ing the team’s stay in New York last week, Cousins par­tic­i­pated in a four- on-four scrim­mage un­der sim­i­lar con­di­tions. Still, coach Steve Kerr re­mains cau­tious on Cousins’ re­turn.

“I love how far he’s come,” Kerr said. “But I don’t want peo­ple to get the idea that he’s close to com­ing back. It’s go­ing to take some time. To­tally dif­fer­ent feel play­ing in an NBA game and play­ing against ( War­riors as­sis­tant coaches) Willie (Green), Chris DeMarco and Nick (Kerr).

When Cousins does re­turn, Kerr says he’s in­trigued by the cen­ter’s skill set and fit in the team’s of­fense.

“I love the fact that he can pick and pop, and shoot the 3 — also a great passer fromthe perime­ter,” Kerr said. “I’mnot go­ing to just send him in the post ev­ery time when he gets back. I’m go­ing to play him on his spots on the floor.”

Cousins, who signed a one-year $5.3 mil­lion deal this sum­mer, is ex­pected to have a host of suit­ors in free agency this off­sea­son if he can show he can play at a high level. The War­riors will not be one of those teams, con­sid­er­ing they won’t have the cap space to re-sign him. On Thurs­day, Kerr seemed fine with that re­al­ity.

“We made no bones about it when we signed him,” Kerr said. “This is a one-year deal, and we’re not go­ing to have money to sign him next year, so we’d like to help him win a cham­pi­onship and sign a great con­tract some­where else. That’s the re­al­ity. The best way to do that — play re­ally well and en­joy this sea­son.”

• A day af­ter Min­nesota’s Der­rick Rose scored ca­reer­high 50 points, Kerr and War­riors guard Stephen Curry raved about Rose’s night.

“It was amaz­ing, I was so happy for him,” Kerr said. “I think like the rest of the league, what he’s been through and to see the emo­tion at the end of the game. It’s fan­tas­tic, I think ev­ery­body felt great for him.”

Since en­ter­ing the league, Rose’s ca­reer has been a roller coaster. In 2011, he was the league’s MVP, be­com­ing the youngest player ever to win the award. But knee in­juries de­railed his ca­reer, as he bounced around the league with New York and Cleve­land be­fore land­ing in Min­nesota last sea­son.

Rose had trou­bles off the court, too. In 2015, he was ac­cused of gang-rap­ing a woman in Los An­ge­les. While Rose and the two other ac­cused men were found not li­able in a civil trial, an ap­peal will be heard on the ver­dict later this month.

On the court, Rose’s per­for­mance Wednes­day night drew praise from around the league, in­clud­ing from the War­riors.

“It was an amaz­ing night,” Curry said. “Amaz­ing story, in terms of what he’s been through. It’s great for him. A come­back story, and we ob­vi­ously knew what he was ca­pa­ble of be­fore the in­juries. I know peo­ple that have been around him from then and talked about how hard he works and ob­vi­ously you don’t be­come an MVP by not work­ing hard but that has car­ried him through the roller- coaster ride he’s been on.”

“It’s be­cause so many peo­ple wrote him off be- cause of in­juries,” Kevin Du­rant told ESPN on Wednes­day night. “So many peo­ple just stopped car­ing about what he can do on a bas­ket­ball court be­cause he had a few in­juries and walked away from the team be­cause he needed to get him­self to­gether. A lot of peo­ple had a lot of jokes about D-Rose, and ob­vi­ously, he’s mak­ing them eat those words right now. So I’m happy about that.”

• Shaun Liv­ingston, who has missed the War­riors’ past four games, is doubt­ful for to­day’s matchup against the Tim­ber­wolves be­cause of a foot in­jury.

Be­fore Wednes­day’s game against New Or­leans, Kerr said Liv­ingston’s MRI came back clear, but it re­mains un­clear when the 33-year- old will re­turn to the lineup.

“It’s kind of game- bygame,” Kerr said. “He had an MRI, and it was clear and ev­ery­thing was fine, but we are go­ing to be very care­ful with Shaun. I think the pro­to­col with him and with An­dre [Iguo­dala] will be very sim­i­lar to last year. We want both guys to be fresh and ready to roll for the play­offs. Wewill be very care­ful through­out the reg­u­lar sea­son, so if there is any­thing nag­ging, with ei­ther one of them, we will keep them on the bench.”

Liv­ingston is av­er­ag­ing 5.5 points and3.5 re­bounds a game this sea­son.

RAY CHAVEZ — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

In­jured War­riors cen­ter DeMar­cus Cousins has ramped up his prac­tice ac­tiv­ity with the team re­cently.

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