DeMarcus Cousins showing plenty of frustration on the road to progress

DeMarcus Cousins showing plenty of frustration on the road to progress

OAKLAND -- DeMarcus Cousins is trying to adjust to accepting being less than he always was, and there are times, like Saturday, when it is evident he detests the limitations within a process sure to be long and challenging.

“It’s frustrating as hell,” Cousins said Saturday after a lethargic Warriors effort in a 118-112 loss to the Rockets.

“It’s tough,” he added. “I’m in a gray area, trying to get back to being myself and also just knowing guys are coming at me. Nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for me and I know that.”

Using its usual pick-and-roll heavy offense, Houston went after Cousins’ defense and found some success. Put simply, there were numerous occasions when the center wasn’t able to move his 6-foot-11, 270-pound body quickly enough.

“We were thinking about it,” Rockets center Clint Capela said. “Wherever we see a weakness, we try to go at it. We made that the right decision.”

Capela is unique in that he is a fabulous athlete, long enough and strong enough (at 6-10, 245) to play center but also is perhaps the quickest big man in the league. He’s perfect for the role of giving Cousins fits.

“Houston, and the way they play, obviously there is a lot of talk around the matchup . . . but we understand who we are and what we’re working toward,” Stephen Curry said. “DeMarcus, especially, is grinding and getting his body to where he wants it to be. He’s finding his timing and rhythm.”

But Cousins’ struggles have not been limited to this game, or one or two others. He’s discovering the hard way that he can’t return to his previous All-Star level simply because he so badly wants to.

The result is too many fouls, too many missed shots in the paint and the Warriors looking out of sync on offense and defense. Cousins is learning both while simultaneously trying to get accustomed to his new impediments, and the Warriors pay a price. Their defense improves appreciably when he’s on the bench.

“Guys are attacking me in the pick-and-roll and it’s obvious,” said Cousins, who was minus-17 in 27 minutes against Houston. “I’ve just got to be ready for it, be prepared for it and stay out of (expletive) foul trouble. Jesus Christ.”

Thirteen games into his comeback, Cousins has fouled out once (in 15 minutes), picked up five fouls twice, four on four occasions and three five times. He’s averaging one foul every 6.1 minutes.

Which, consequently, means that familiar and monumentally pained Boogie expression of displeasure has become a frequent sight. He’s angry with the officiating, but perhaps more with himself.

“It’s confidence,” Cousins said. “It’s trusting myself in those (defensive) situations, trusting myself to shoot the ball, all of that. The confidence isn’t there, obviously.

“But I’m going to keep working at it and eventually it will come along.”

Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine, warned Cousins upon meeting him last summer that this process was going to try his soul because it would be filled with more despair than delight.

“Rick has preached this to me from the time I set foot here,” Cousins said. “There’s going to be good days and there will be a lot of bad days. So, obviously, I’m in the bad days right now.

“But with every storm, there is sunshine at the end.”

The Warriors are in no rush, as long as they are seeing progress. There has been some, most notably in rebounding. Cousins has posted double-digit totals in three consecutive games, snagging a season-high 14 on Saturday.

Cousins also is slowly regaining agility. “Slow” is the part he finds unnerving.

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“My baseline spin move is one of my favorite moves,” he said. “I remember trying to do it earlier in the season and I couldn’t even get past the guy. I was able to do it tonight and actually get past the guy but not be able to finish the way I wanted to.

“Some things, they’re coming back to me slowly. They’re happening for me. It’s just a matter of time.”

The Warriors say they can wait. They have seven weeks and 23 games remaining before the playoffs begin. That’s plenty of time for Cousins to be more effective, as long as he can handle being less effective at times along the way.

Warriors vs. Pacers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

Warriors vs. Pacers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

Losers of 12 of their last 13 games, the Warriors host a streaking Indiana Pacers team at Chase Center on Friday night before departing on a five-game East Coast road trip.

Friday's game will feature two teams headed in opposite directions. While Golden State might have hit a new low in a 129-96 blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, the Pacers have been playing some of their best ball of the season, having won seven of their last nine games with the only losses coming in Miami and Utah to the current second-place teams in each conference.

At 29-16, Indiana currently sits fifth in the East, thanks in large part to the all-around contributions of big man Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 17.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest on 53.6 percent shooting from the field. The Warriors were going to have their hands full with him, and that was before the reported trade of Willie Cauley-Stein to the Dallas Mavericks earlier in the day.

[RELATED: How Dubs benefit from reported Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs]

Here's how to watch Friday night's game between the Warriors and Pacers:

When: Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT, pregame begins at 6:30 p.m.
TV channel: NBC Sports Bay Area
Live stream: MyTeams App

Live stream all your Warriors games and get the latest news and analysis on the MyTeams App.

How Warriors gain flexibility in reported Willie Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs

How Warriors gain flexibility in reported Willie Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Willie Cauley-Stein walked out of shootaround, down a long corridor that leads to the Warriors' locker room in Chase Center late Friday morning in preparation for a game scheduled hours later against the Pacers. The trek marked the big man's last as a member of Golden State's. 

By the afternoon, Cauley-Stein reportedly was traded to Dallas, in exchange for a Utah's second-round draft pick in 2020, ending his short tenure in the Bay Area. Along the way, the Warriors set themselves up for future flexibility. 

In the immediate aftermath, the Warriors shed Cauley-Stein's current $2.17 million salary as well as his $2.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season, while freeing up an open roster spot for this season and beyond. From a financial perspective, it sank Golden State $2.57 million below the hard cap, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. Additionally, the Warriors have enough salary space to convert the two-way deals of either Ky Bowman or Marquese Chriss. 

Six months ago, Cauley-Stein came to Warriors in search of career revitalization. After four years in Sacramento, he demanded that the Kings rescinded his qualifying offer to make him a free agent. After garnering more lucrative offers from other teams, he chose to sign a one-year contract with Golden State, which included the player option. With a new contract, the center hoped to keep the Warriors postseason streak alive while earning a payday next summer. 

However, those wishes didn't come to fruition. A week before training camp, Cauley-Stein sprained his foot, causing the center to miss the first month of the season. His injury, coupled with ailments to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, led to a lost season for the big man. 

Nonetheless, Cauley-Stein expressed a desire to stay with the Warriors long term, citing his relationship with coach Steve Kerr. 

"He wants to build a relationship with you," Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports last month. "I think, in the past I hadn't had a relationship with my coach. [Former Kings coach Dave] Joerger, me and him had a pretty good rapport, pretty good, like cordial, but we never had like in-depth conversations about life and stuff like that, and the first couple of conversations I had with coach Kerr was real-life stuff and that hit home with me like, 'Damn, he really tried to get to know me.' "

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Unfortunately for Cauley-Stein, he won't get to continue that relationship with Kerr.

Now, with Dallas in need of a center with the loss of Dwight Powell, his hope to find a similar relationship with Rick Carlisle will start immediately in a Mavericks uniform.