DeMarcus Cousins injury forces Warriors' return to center by committee

DeMarcus Cousins injury forces Warriors' return to center by committee

OAKLAND — As the Warriors awaited rehabbing center DeMarcus Cousins’ services in the first three months of the regular season, they trotted out a center-by-committee approach.

The strategy, which let the opponent dictate the starting center, helped Golden State navigate through the onset of the season. 

Now, with Cousins injuring his quad in a 135-131 loss to the Clippers in Game 2 of their NBA playoff first-round series, the Warriors are back to a familiar plan. 

Three minutes into his second career postseason game, Cousins tumbled to the ground as he reached for a loose ball. After the injury, Cousins tried to walk under his own power, avoiding help from his teammates and limping to the locker room.

He didn’t return, and league sources confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that there's fear that Cousins might have torn his left quad. One source said the center's prospects are "not good at all."

"There's a pretty significant quad injury," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the loss. "We'll get an MRI tomorrow. But he's going to be out for, I'll just say a while." 

The void left by Cousins put the Warriors in a familiar scenario, as Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell each took turns trying to fill in at center. Looney did the most damage, finishing with a career-high 19 points and five rebounds. He did most of his work in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and adding three rebounds as Golden State outscored LA 40-15.

Through two playoff games, Looney is plus-31 from the floor, averaging 12.5 points and five rebounds in 18.2 minutes. 

"My role pretty much stays the same," Looney said. "I'll get my same role, same minutes. I'll probably get a little more time but just bring the energy, try to be a little more aggressive when I get the ball down in the paint."

As Looney's role increases, so will that of Jordan Bell, whose minutes have dwindled over the last eight games after he was suspended for a road game in Memphis. 

Following the team's preseason finale against the Lakers six months ago, Kerr proclaimed Damian Jones the Warriors' starting center out of training camp while Cousins continued to rehab. During the ensuing two months, Jones, Looney and Bell alternated the starting role.

Now, with Jones injured for the season and Andrew Bogut back in the fold, the team has an idea of how its lineup will look. 

"It'll still be matchup-based," Bogut said. "But I anticipate probably starting games, playing the first three minutes and then coming out."

Cousins, if initial fears prove true following Tuesday's MRI, will begin another extensive rehab process. It will take at least three months, depending upon the extent of the tear. 

Over a year ago, Cousins -- then with the Pelicans -- tore his left Achilles tendon while reaching for a loose ball in the waning moments of a midseason win over the Rockets. 

Then just months away from unrestricted free agency, Cousins went into his rehab not knowing if he would get a fraction of the super-max deal he expected entering last season. Now, more than 14 months later, he might find himself in the same position heading into what is sure to be an interesting summer. 

"I know it's frustrating for him," Looney said. "I've been through something like that, getting hurt, getting all the way back and then getting hurt again, so I know how frustrating it is, and he is a resilient guy. He's been through adversity before, and I know he's going to bounce back."

[RELATED: Nobody can be certain about Warriors anymore after Game 2]

Throughout the season, many of the Warriors used Cousins' return as a means of motivation to get the center who never played in a postseason game a chance to win a ring and get paid. With Cousins out, the Warriors find themselves in familiar terrain, and will have to fill the hole at the five like they did during the onset of the season: By committee. 

"We'll rally behind him," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "Tell him it’s far from the end of the world, tell him he has so much great basketball ahead of him.

"He'll bounce back. I know he will. He's a fighter."

Watch Steph Curry try to freestyle rap at his charity golf tournament


Watch Steph Curry try to freestyle rap at his charity golf tournament

Steph Curry makes playing basketball look easy, but the same cannot be said about his rapping. 

The Warriors star grabbed the microphone at the Stephen Curry Charity Classic at TPC Harding Park on Monday, and freestyled ... well, something. 

"I don't know where this ball's going, and I'm sure not good at flowing," Curry rapped. 

The former line is self-deprecation, considering Curry's handicap. The latter? That's spot-on. 

[RELATED: Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't make a difference]

During his time at Davidson College, Curry and his friends rapped about a campus cafeteria in a parody set to the tune of Asher Roth's "I Love College." Much like Curry's magical NCAA tournament run foreshadowed his NBA success, his rapping on the decade-old video did the same for Monday's display. 

As far as NBA point guards with Oakland ties go, the rapping should only be left to Damian Lillard

Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft


Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft

Mention the name Mike Dunleavy Jr. to a Warriors fan, and you're likely to get a sour face in response.

The No. 3 overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft never lived up to his potential over four-plus seasons in Golden State, and his seemingly relaxed disposition on the court didn't endear him any further. He was quite a talent drop-off from the first two picks of that draft -- Yao Ming and Jay Williams -- and he was selected six picks ahead of Amar'e Stoudemire, among others.

In fact, arguably the most helpful thing he ever did for the Warriors was be involved in the trade that brought Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington over from the Indiana Pacers.

Time heals all wounds, though, and Dunleavy recently was involved in an important Warriors trade once again.

Dunleavy is back with Golden State, having rejoined the franchise as a pro scout last season. But as The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Tuesday, it was his involvement in the sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell on July 1 that had plenty to do with his elevation to his current position of assistant general manager.

On the night of June 30, Dunleavy sat in a Manhattan hotel room with Warriors general manager Bob Myers, trying to figure out how Golden State would proceed after learning that Kevin Durant was taking his talents to Brooklyn.

"Bob knew before everybody else, so that gave us a little bit more time to figure out what’s next,” Dunleavy told Slater. “But once that 6 p.m. time slot hit, things started flying. There was so much real-time action, intel collecting."

Having been based in New York for his scouting duties, Dunleavy got plenty of exposure to Russell during his time with the Nets, which aided in the Warriors' assessment of the dynamic guard.

"I didn’t see D’Angelo Russell play live 10, 20 times (like Mike),” Myers said. “There’s never been more information available, whether it’s analytics, your ability to watch tape, see games, dig into numbers. But I don’t think any of it is a substitute for actually going to a game in person, talking to coaches and watching the whole day develop, from when the player gets there to warm up, the stuff fans don’t see, interacting on a closer level, how they act when they get subbed out, how they react to winning and losing."

While Myers is at the head of the Warriors' basketball operations department, he encourages a collaborative decision-making process. When it came time to decide on Russell, Dunleavy's familiarity was utilized.

"When we were faced with that short window of time, we certainly asked him,” Myers revealed. “He gave a rundown of where he thought he improved, his strengths, potential weaknesses, fit, all that."

The rest, as they say, is history.

With input from Dunleavy, Golden State made the gutsy decision to complete the sign-and-trade for Russell, which required the Warriors to depart with Andre Iguodala and multiple draft picks. The frantic events of the opening hours of free agency actually served to cement Dunleavy's interest in that kind of work, rather than deter it.

"I kind of got addicted to it," Dunleavy admitted.

Over the course of last season, Dunleavy grew more involved in the draft process. He attended several Villanova games, where he studied Golden State's eventual second-round pick Eric Paschall, and was present for the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament, where he saw future first-round pick Jordan Poole play three times. Dunleavy then joined the rest of the front office in Oakland for the remainder of the pre-draft process, including the evaluation of prospect workouts.

[RELATED: Iguodala planned to teach math before titles with Warriors]

Given who the Warriors ultimately selected in the draft, it's evident Golden State liked what Dunleavy had to say about both Poole and Paschall. Then, after he had further proven his value during the madness of the opening hours of free agency, Myers quickly offered Dunleavy his new elevated role.

"I’m not so arrogant to think I know more than he knows about an NBA offense," Myers conceded. "So I’m just positing questions to him. He takes a deeper look -- kind of like Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston) -- just a brilliant basketball mind. It kind of comes naturally."

Dunleavy's first go-around with the Warriors was rocky, to say the least. But if Russell proves to be a good acquisition and the draft picks pan out, the second one will be a lot smoother.