Ex-Cat Cousins to start when he re­turns next week

Lexington Herald-Leader - - Sports - BY MARK ME­D­INA

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.”

DeMar­cus Cousins

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