Ex-Cat Cousins to start when he returns next week
After a long year filled with frustration, determination and progress, DeMarcus Cousins finally has some clarity about his future.
The first involves Cousins’ pending return after spending nearly the past 11 months rehabbing his left Achilles tendon. Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr clarified “we should give ourselves some leeway on either side,” but Cousins confirmed that he is targeting to make his Warriors debut on Jan. 18 against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
“It’ll be a lot of emotions, honestly,” Cousins said after practice on Thursday. “I don’t think anybody can ever understand this unless they’ve experienced it themselves. It’ll be a lot of emotions. It’ll be a big day for me.”
The second involves whether the former University of Kentucky star will start or come off the bench when he first wears a Warriors uniform.
“He’ll start,” Kerr said. That might be a no brainer considering Cousins is a four-time AllStar and will start with the Warriors’ four other All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Once all five players share the floor, they will become the first team since the 1975-76 Boston Celtics to field a starting lineup full of All-Stars from the previous NBA season.
If only that was the sole variable the Warriors weigh with how to integrate Cousins onto their roster.
“I’m not thinking of it in those terms. If you look at it like fantasy basketball, then you’re immediately on the wrong track,” Kerr said. “Basketball is not about putting five All-Stars out there. It’s fitting them together. The puzzle has to fit.”
And right now, the Warriors (27-14) have scattered all of those puzzle pieces on the floor.
“Everything is on the table. We’ll have to figure out what the rotation looks like and how many minutes he can play,” Kerr said. “He’ll have to play around with it. The minutes, combinations, sets, we haven’t had a player like him here before. It will be new. It won’t be as simple to plug him in and he’ll fit right in. We’ll play through him some, but there will be a period we all have to adapt. Fortunately, we’re halfway through the year. We have a lot of games to figure this out.”
After a career average of 21.5 points on 46 percent shooting and 11.0 rebounds with Sacramento (2010-2017) and New Orleans (2017-18), how does Cousins expect to look with the Warriors?
“It’s obvious I won’t be taking as many shots as I have in the past,” Cousins said. “It’s an adjustment for everybody. I believe that’s pretty obvious.”