Warriors ready to Boogie with DeMarcus Cousins

Warriors ready to Boogie with DeMarcus Cousins

SACRAMENTO -- The signing of Kevin Durant two summers ago was a mild surprise. The signing of JaVale McGee two months after Durant was more of a surprise. The signing of Nick Young last summer was a puzzler.

The Warriors on Monday exponentially outdid all three of those moves combined.

They reached an agreement with free-agent center DeMarcus Cousins.

Boogie Cousins, formerly of the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, the All-Star that has appeared in zero playoff games in an eight-year career, is partnering with the back-to-back NBA champions.

This pushes LeBron James and the manic agitation involving the Lakers completely off the front page.

Boogie to the Warriors makes sense on so many levels.

It makes zero sense on least as many levels.

The news, first reported by Yahoo Sports, sent shock waves through the NBA. Cousins, who averaged about $15 million in salary over the past three seasons, was thought to be seeking a contract worth much more than the $5.34 million taxpayer mid-level exception available to the Warriors. Most speculation had him headed to the Lakers, where he would join LeBron James in reviving that franchise. Cousins is recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture that could sideline him for the first several months of the regular season.

Cousins typically plays with measured deliberation, mostly in first and second gear, a style of play unlikely to change in the wake of such a serious injury. He’s a throwback center, a fading breed, walking over to a team that much prefers to run.

They are the Warriors and they have cultivated an image of welcoming wholesomeness around the firebrand ways of Draymond Green.

And he is Boogie, as emotionally volatile as any player in the NBA, a man whose fits of belligerence have gone so far as to land upon members of the media.

This move is, for the Warriors, like inviting a bear into the mansion.

But, maybe, this bear is ready to behave. Perhaps the most offensively talented, defensively challenged center in the league, maybe Cousins, who turns 28 in August, sees this is an opportunity to rehabilitate an image that, with his assistance, has been grotesquely distorted.

Cousins couldn’t get within 80 miles of the Warriors unless CEO Joe Lacob was ready to add to his collection of talent, president/general manager Bob Myers was willing bet on his judgment and coach Steve Kerr had appropriate trust in his staff and culture.

Moreover, Cousins wouldn’t be coming to the Warriors unless the All-Stars were rolling out a welcome mat. Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were Team USA teammates with Cousins in the 2016 Olympics. Durant on Saturday night agreed to a money-saving deal that fairly prodded the Warriors to spend their midlevel exception. Stephen Curry, the leader and moderating centerpiece of the Warriors, tweeted his approval within an hour of the news.

The Warriors needed a veteran center and no one on the market brings more gifts than Cousins. He can get a bucket on the block, shoot the three and whistle a pass through a donut without leaving a crumb.

The Warriors under Lacob always have been willing to bet, first on their grand aspirations and now on their healthy, cutting-edge environment. This, though, is their riskiest move yet, a one-year experiment on a player whose past has more red flags than a dead con man’s rap sheet.

If it works, the Warriors have five All-Stars, blast through the 60-win barrier and approach 70. They match if not exceed their 16-1 postseason of 2017. Boogie sails through image rehab and gets a ring.

If it doesn’t work, no one will have to look too far to see why.

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry during playoffs

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry during playoffs

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr’s latest request of Steph Curry is short, simple and initially puzzling: Let ‘em score.

Three words, easily understood, but completely against the competitive instincts of an elite NBA player conditioned to accept defense as an essential part of the game.

Kerr isn’t telling Curry to neglect defense. Rather, the coach is advising his superstar to weigh his overall value to the Warriors in the NBA playoffs against the significance of committing fouls in hopes of preventing two points.

“Sometimes, he just gets in the habit of trying to strip the ball,” Kerr said Tuesday after practice. “So, more than anything, it’s just about trying to get him past that habit. I keep telling him how valuable he is. I’d much rather he just got out of the guy’s way and gave him a layup and kept playing.

“He’s much more valuable than two points. And we’ve got plenty of help; our defense is predicated on help.”

This, in the big picture, makes sense. While the Warriors seek to close out the Clippers in Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday, advancing likely means getting a dose of potent Houston.

Anyone care to imagine Curry on the bench with foul trouble against the Rockets?

Curry’s impact against Los Angeles was neutralized by foul trouble in Games 3 and 4. Though having him on the bench for long stretches, saddled with foul trouble, is not ideal in this series, it would invite disaster should the Warriors advance and face Houston.

After committing four or more fouls just four times over the final 27 games of the regular season, Curry has been whistled at least that often in every game against LA. Picking up five fouls in Game 3, including his fourth early in the third quarter, limited him to 20 minutes.

So Curry, prior to Game 4, put a message on his shoes, “No Reach” -- a reminder to avoid a tendency that usually is his quickest route to foul trouble.

“I have confidence in my hand-eye coordination and hand speed,” Curry said. “That’s how I get steals usually, by being quick. But that’s how I get fouls, too, so I’ve got to balance both of them.

“The ones I’ve had trouble with in this series are ones that I shouldn’t even be in that situation to begin with. There’s help behind the play. I’m not even involved in the play, really. I’m just kind of lunging at it. That’s just a lack of focus.

“We could nitpick each one of them and understand exactly why. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to continue to stay on the floor on our normal rotations and not foul.”

There was progress in Game 4 insofar as Curry generally avoided reaching. And when he committed his third foul with 4:16 left in the first half, Kerr stayed with him.

Curry rewarded the coach by playing the rest of the half and the entire third quarter without a whistle. He played 35 minutes, committing four fouls.

Moreover, the Warriors won both games.

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“If he’s got a couple fouls already, he should be able to play with those fouls,” Kerr said. “I’ve always trusted him. Since I’ve been here, I’ve generally played him with two fouls in the first half or three in the third quarter. I believe in letting a guy go, letting him play, a star player like that especially. The second half was a great sign that he’s kind of made it past that habit.”

The Warriors would like to think so.

They’d like to believe that building better habits in this series will make them stronger in the next one. History has shown they are strongest with Curry on the floor.

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Richard Jefferson gets paid to talk about basketball and express his opinions.

Over the last couple of years, he hasn't shied away from discussing his feelings about the Warriors and/or Kevin Durant.

On Tuesday, he was a guest on ESPN's show "The Jump" and KD's recent comments about the media was obviously a topic of conversation.

"You go back and look at the history of the game -- Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the amount of pressure that they had to save this league; Michael Jordan, no player to me has ever had so much weight on his shoulders; then you go forward to Kobe Bryant after the post-Jordan era; then all of a sudden Kobe kind of faded away because LeBron James was in the prime of his career.

"If you want that 'Best player, I'm going to be the guy to hold this league down the next five years' (title), you need to be able to handle this better than how he (Durant) has," Jefferson said. "We need you, the game of basketball needs you to be better at this."

So what did KD say exactly?

“They need me. If I wasn’t a free agent, none of this s--t would go on, right?" the reigning two-time Finals MVP told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. “ None of this speculation about who I am, what’s wrong with my mental, why I’m miserable, why I ain’t happy with life. Nothing.”

Last summer, Durant elected to sign another "1+1" contract with the Warriors in order to maintain flexibility and possess the option to become a free agent again this summer. Ever since, there has been rampant speculation about his future and incessant discussion about his state of mind.

Back in mid-November, Steph Curry said: "With how active our guys are on social media, it’s hard not to see that stuff. But it tests your character, makes you figure out how to compartmentalize stuff. Either you take it as entertainment or you get influenced by it. Whatever you think, however you are in real life, in terms of how impressionable you are, how insecure you might be, how confident in yourself you might be, that’ll all reflect in how you handle it.”

Things boiled over for Durant in early February when the 10-time All-Star broke his silence and lashed out at the media following the Warriors' win over the Spurs.

[RELATEDJerry West believes Warriors' weak point is very obvious]

Jefferson has the utmost respect for KD the basketball player, but believes he needs to tweak his approach to reporters.

"I think he's on the Mount Rushmore of this generation," Jefferson added. "But make no mistake, the game of basketball -- which has provided for me, all of us, all of our families and his -- needs him to be able to handle this better because that's what the title of 'king' means.

"When you are the king, when you are No. 1, that means you have a ton more responsibility that you have to handle or you're not fit for that."

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