OAKLAND -- With each passing day, DeMarcus Cousins looks more and more like the elite basketball player he has been throughout his adult life.
The limp is a little less pronounced, the activity a little more intense and the future a lot brighter.
After almost nine months on the sidelines recovering and rehabilitating, isolated from his new teammates, Cousins was on the court Wednesday morning working out with his fellow Warriors for the first time during their shootaround prior to facing the Washington Wizards eight hours later.
“It was good to see him working out and sweating and putting that work in every day to come back,” Kevin Durant said. “He’s anxious to come back. We’re all anxious to have him. It’s going go to be a process for him to finally get back on the court, but he’s moving in the right direction.”
There is no timeline for Cousins' return, but it’s not inconceivable that he’ll be practicing in a few weeks and cleared to play before the end of the calendar year.
Cousins, 28, is trying to get back to All-Star level after undergoing surgery in January to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. The timing of the injury -- he was five months away from free agency -- indirectly sent Cousins to the Warriors.
When other teams turned away, doubting his future in the wake of such a devastating injury, Cousins reached out to the defending NBA champs and signed a heavily discounted one-year deal at $5.34 million. The 6-foot-10 center/forward was coming off a four-year contract worth $64 million.
So now the Warriors wait. Cousins might be in a hurry, but they’re not. The team’s concern is that he is available, productive and integrated in the ways of his teammates over the final couple months of the regular season.
Cousins brings a full set of offensive skills, everything from the ability to score at all three levels -- in the paint, from midrange and beyond the arc -- to strong rebounding and smart passing. The sight of him on the court, launching 3-pointers with the likes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant has the Warriors visualizing good times ahead when Cousins in cleared.
“Oh, man,” Thompson said, “it would be magical.”