LOS ANGELES -- DeMarcus Cousins' much-anticipated debut as a member of the Warriors finally is here.
But it only will happen "in short bursts," according to coach Steve Kerr.
Cousins will return to the court Friday in the team’s matchup with the Clippers at Staples Center, and Kerr said there is no specific time limitation for his new center. The goal is to help Boogie get into a rhythm and let him enjoy the process.
“There’s no minutes restriction, but we’re going to play him in short bursts," Kerr said. "He’s coming off a year-long absence from a major injury. So you can’t overstate what this guy is coming back from.”
Cousins confirmed Kerr's game plan, understanding the need for patience in the process. He joked about managing his exceptions of how much time he can play in his first game back.
“When I’m gassed, they’ll pull me," Cousins joked. “I won’t be out there playing 30 minutes.”
Kerr noted that it’s not going to be an easy process for Cousins, and anticipates a few bumps along the All-Star's road back.
“We want him to be able to play through the inevitable frustration that’s going to come from being out for so long,” Kerr said. “Having to face the speed of the NBA as opposed to the scrimmage season that he just got through with the coaches and film crew.”
Cousins explained that he has no expectations for his first game back. He’s just excited to finally be playing.
“Honestly I’m just happy to be back on the floor,” Cousins said. “Outside of winning the basketball game, that’s probably my only goal tonight. Go in. Play hard. Get my feet underneath me. Just realize that this is the last step of the rehab process.”
Kerr notes that the challenge is not only Cousins finding his own rhythm but also building his chemistry with the team that already has played 45 games together this season.
“When a guy comes to a 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. That’s the biggest thing we’re looking at.
“Trying to 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.”
With Boogie's strong personality and immense talent joining the star-studded Warriors, Kerr knows that people will be jumping to conclusions depending on the outcome of this one game.
“I know there's going to be instant judgment, analysis, and criticism,” Kerr said. “We’re either going to be, at the end of the night, unbeatable or in big trouble. But we know the drill.”
Cousins won’t be reading what the headlines say after his Warriors debut. His only concern will be what he hears from his teammates.
“That’s just the world we’re in,” Cousins said. “You get judged by your every moment. As long as the guys in the room know what the situation is. We know what the ultimate goal is. That’s all that matters.”