DeMarcus Cousins will bring jolt of energy Warriors need right now

DeMarcus Cousins will bring jolt of energy Warriors need right now

OAKLAND – After spending this season existing between tedium and passion, the Warriors are about to get someone who can alter that routine.

Here comes DeMarcus Cousins, and he doesn’t do tedium on basketball court.

Cousins is projected make his Warriors debut sometime next week. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound center has targeted the Jan. 18 game against the Clippers in Los Angeles. Coach Steve Kerr was less specific Tuesday night but noted that possibility.

“It will happen around that time,” Kerr said after a 122-95 win over the New York Knicks. “It’s not as simple as ‘that’s the game.’ It’s somewhere in that neighborhood.”

Kerr mentioned the possibility of Cousins playing as soon as Jan. 16, when the New Orleans Pelicans – Cousins’ former team – visit Oracle Arena.

In either case, Cousins is coming, and soon. He will be the new toy, something to engage and captivate the Warriors and maybe light the spark that has been missing all too often in the first half of the season.

“It’s exciting,” said Klay Thompson, whose 43-point outburst destroyed the Knicks. “I know our fan base is excited, the NBA is excited.”

If Thompson is excited, his teammates are twice that. They’ve seen his workouts. They’ve scrimmaged with him. They know the wealth of talent he possesses. They also know of the dynamic energy that follows Cousins, who can be a walking, talking lightning bolt.

This is a team, with a 27-14 record, that can use some of that.

“It’s obviously a nice morale boost, with that on the horizon, DeMarcus coming back,” Stephen Curry said.

“We understand there’s going to be an adjustment – for everybody. And, hopefully, it will give us another type of challenge in terms of really being disciplined and diligent on how we perform as a team with DeMarcus in the rotation and take us to new heights.”

Defense has been the biggest factor in the Warriors relative underperformance. They’ve played in intermittently, sometimes not at all and sometimes as if they actually mean it.

Cousins is not known as an elite defender and, therefore, won’t help much on that end. But he brings an emotional energy that can shoot through his teammates, and that might push them to defend better.

“His first couple games, who knows how it will go?” Curry wondered. “But with the collective IQ we have in our locker room and understanding the unselfishness around what we do, we’ll be able to figure it out quickly.

“But it’s going to be an adjustment for sure.”

The adjustment will work both ways. The Warriors will have to become familiar with Cousins and he’ll have to do the same with them.

But that’s the kind thing this team generally thrives on. Test the Warriors, and they usually respond impressively. It’s the humdrum of the 82-game regular season, which they regard as the rehearsal for the postseason, which opens the door to collective ennui.

“I can’t wait to integrate him into our team,” Thompson said. “He adds a whole new dimension, especially on the block. He’s such a handful down there, and with his ability to play-make. So excited to get DeMarcus back.”

Cousins has been working with Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance, for four months now. The rehab process hasn’t always gone smoothly, but there have been no setbacks. Cousins has been a part of practices for the 10 days.

“The last two scrimmages that he’s had, it’s looked to us and felt to him that he has broken through a barrier,” Kerr said. “And we were waiting for that barrier. Now that he is through that barrier, and assuming everything goes well . . . that’s sort of the idea, to get him in sometime that week.”

“That week” is the six-day window between Jan. 16-21. Cousins is eager to play. He has been eager for a couple weeks. The team needs a big man, and he fills that role as well as anyone in the league.

The team needs a jolt of zeal. Cousins will bring that simply by suiting up.

Kevon Looney would 'love to stay' with Warriors, hopes it works out

Kevon Looney would 'love to stay' with Warriors, hopes it works out

LOS ANGELES -- Aware that Steve Kerr one day earlier urged the Warriors to offer him a long-term contract, Kevon Looney paused and broke into a broad grin at the mention of it Saturday.

“Yeah, I heard what he said,” Looney said. “It’s good to have that kind of support from the coach. I hope it works out.”

Kerr made it clear Friday that he was glad Looney did not leave upon becoming a free agent last summer, adding he believes the 23-year-old center/forward had done enough to earn a long-term deal -- and that he hopes it’s with the Warriors.

So does Looney, who has become a staple of the team’s playing rotation.

“I’d love to stay here,” he said. “I like being on this team. I want to be there when Chase Center opens later this year.”

Looney is earning $1.57 million this season. The valuable backup becomes an unrestricted free agent in July, the second consecutive summer he will hit the market.

[RELATED: Why Iguodala hopes Looney leaves]

This time, however, the Warriors have Bird rights on Looney, giving them considerable financial flexibility to pursue a new contract.

“For two years now, he has been a rock for us,” Kerr said Saturday morning. “So when I mentioned that [Friday], yeah, I really hope that’s here. I want him to be here for a long time. I think everybody in this locker room wants Loon to be rewarded for his effort.”

Looney set career highs in games played (80), minutes (18.5 per game), points (6.3 points per game) and rebounds (5.2 per game), among other categories, during the 2018-19 regular season. He has averaged 11.7 points in the Warriors' three playoff games thus far.

Steve Kerr believes Andre Iguodala can play as long as he wants, but will he?

Steve Kerr believes Andre Iguodala can play as long as he wants, but will he?

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Iguodala has one more year left on his contract, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the 16-year NBA veteran isn't close to being done.

"I think he can play beyond this contract if he really wants," Kerr said after practice Saturday morning. "He may not want to -- he may just go to the golf course and call it a career -- but he can keep playing if he wants."

Despite his NBA mileage, Iguodala, 34, continues to be a key contributor, averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the postseason, making good on the three-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Warriors in 2017.

"Not a lot of players who stay relevant deep into their careers, almost all of them have high basketball IQs," Kerr said. "He still has his athleticism. It takes him longer to warm up and longer to cool down, but it's still there."

In Game 3 of the first-round series against the Clippers, Iguodala finished with 15 points, three assists and two rebounds, helping the Warriors take a 2-1 series advantage, showing athleticism not normally seen from a player his age. 

"Some of those dunks the other night, plays he was making in the paint," Kerr said. "The guy is a remarkable athlete, and the combination of his athleticism, his work ethic and his brain is going to allow him to play." 

However, Iguodala might be out of the league sooner than his coach thinks. Last November, he told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that his NBA days could be numbered. 

“I’m going to be done soon,” he said. “I could probably play a legit five more years, but I’ll probably max out at three more after this year -- maybe three more.

[RELATED: Kerr jokes about trading spots with Iguodala]

“But if I’m not here, that will weigh heavily on what I will do. I possibly have another year here -- if we win. That’s it. I know that. I’m fine with it.”

Only Iguodala knows how long he can play, but however long he wants to stay with the Warriors, it seems his coach will welcome with open arms.