Steve Kerr: Warriors won't adjust pace for DeMarcus Cousins addition

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Saturday, January 19, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, who has not played in almost a year as he recovered from a torn left Achilles tendon, will not have a minutes restriction during his season debut Friday night against the LA Clippers.

But to remain on the floor, Cousins will have to keep up -- coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors won't be adjusting their fast-paced offense to account for Cousins' addition.

"I'm pretty sure our guys aren't going to slow down," Kerr said after Friday's shootaround. "We're still going to throw the ball ahead. I envisioned DeMarcus trailing the play and Draymond [Green] getting out and getting to the block. DeMarcus is an excellent 3-point shooter so if we can throw it ahead and score like we do a lot, that's exactly what we're going to do.

"If we throw it ahead and nothing's there, then we've got a guy who can shoot 3s, run screen-and-roll, pick-and-pop. So there's a lot of options, but we're not going to slow things down."

The Warriors are hopeful that Cousins will be able to have an immediate impact, but players and coaches are just as curious as outsiders to see how the former All-Star will fit around so many other great players.

"There's no minutes restriction, but we're going to play him in short bursts," Kerr said. "He's coming off a yearlong absence from a major injury, so you can't overstate what this guy's coming back from. And I know there's going to be instant judgment, analysis, criticism -- we're either going to be at the end of the night unbeatable or in big trouble. But we know the drill."

Cousins, who will be in the starting lineup, acknowledged he won't be playing big minutes in his return.

"I won't be out there playing 30 minutes," Cousins said.

Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Warriors last summer, hoping to rehab his Achilles and land a megadeal next summer in the process.

"Honestly, I'm just happy to be back on the floor," Cousins said. "... Outside of winning a basketball game, that's probably my only goal tonight -- go in and play hard, get my feet underneath, just really realize this is the last step of the process, the rehab process. It's been a long journey; I'm in the last phase of it."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he expects Cousins to thrive right away.

"My guess is that, because he's on their team, he's been able to probably get at 100 percent more than if he was on another team where they needed him right away," Rivers said. "That's my guess. I don't know anything about it. My guess is that he'll be ready to play and he'll play pretty well."

The Warriors enter Friday's game having won six straight and are in the midst of arguably their best stretch of the season. Kerr and his players are hoping the transition of adding the emotional center goes as smoothly as possible.

"When a guy comes to a new team it takes time for him to get comfortable with his teammates," Kerr said. "And when a guy's coming off an injury it takes time to really get your rhythm. So that's the biggest thing we're looking at. It's just trying ease him back in, give him some confidence and find a comfort zone early on. And then over the coming weeks he'll find his rhythm."

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