OAKLAND -- Though no date has been set for the on-court trial of Boogie Cousins and the Warriors, the timeline for its conclusion is firmly established.
Cousins will be with the Warriors until their postseason ends, which can be no later than next June 16, the date of Game 7 of The Finals.
“We made no bones about it when we signed him,” coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “It’s a one-year deal. We’re not going to have money to sign him next year. He knows that. So we’d like him to help us win a championship. And we’d like to help him get a great contract next year, somewhere else.”
It’s one-and-done, as it should be.
That’s the deal Cousins made when he decided, coming off surgery on his Achilles’ tendon, to join the defending champions at the discounted rate of $5.3 million. He wants to prove he's still fabulous on the court while simultaneously convincing skeptics that he’s not a liability in the locker room.
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In the meantime, there’s no point in pulling out a calculator and trying to uncover a way to fit Cousins onto the roster next season. The Warriors have their 2019-20 priorities set, and their names are Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson
As Kerr was speaking, Cousins was on the practice floor running a 4-on-4 scrimmage with a collection of young Warriors players and staffers, along with a few others that have closed the books on their NBA careers.
“Generally what you see out there is what’s going to happen: some rookies, some coaches, some has-beens,” Kerr half-joked, noting that veteran rotation players rarely scrimmage during the season.
Neither the Warriors nor Cousins are ready to issue a timeline for his return, but every day he can chug up and down the court brings him closer to the possibility of a return, perhaps as soon as next month.
“Conditioning-wise he’s still got a ways to go,” Kerr said. “I love how far he’s come. But I don’t want people to get idea that he’s getting close to coming back. It’s still going to be some time.”
Initial projections had Cousins returning after the mid-February All-Star break. Given his rate of recovery and how far along he is on rehab, it’s almost certain he’ll return before then.
“What he’s been able to do in practice hasn’t been substantial, but he playing live action and ramping it up,” Stephen Curry said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take for him to take the next steps, but having him out there, having him as a part of practice, is huge for us and huge for his morale I’m sure.”
Kerr has indicated Cousins initially will play limited minutes off the bench. If all goes well, he could move into the starting lineup and, certainly, the closing lineup.
How many games might Boogie’s Warriors career last? He’s likely to play no more than 50, maybe as few as 25, in the regular season.
As for 2019-20, the number drops to zero. There is no room on the payroll.