OAKLAND -- It sometimes takes a cause to bring out the best in a perennial powerhouse team, and the Warriors will have one Wednesday night when they take the floor against the New Orleans Pelicans.
This one is for Boogie.
The Pelicans are coming to Oracle Arena, and they are the most recent team for which DeMarcus Cousins played. He was having a banner year before rupturing his left Achilles’ tendon in January. That was the beginning of a slow, acrimonious breakup with New Orleans that officially ended when Cousins signed with the Warriors in July.
The acrimony, however, remains with Cousins. The rehabbing big man is not cleared to play but wants a message delivered by his new teammates to his former team.
“He said it,” Damian Jones disclosed after the team’s morning shootaround.
Asked if Cousins’ message was a motivating factor, Draymond Green didn’t deny it.
“Yeah, we definitely want to win for him,” he said. “Obviously, he feels a (certain) way about . . . whatever.”
Green knows the details but opted not to get into them, perhaps because it’s messy.
Cousins feels rejected, if not deceived, by Pelicans management. There have been conflicting stories regarding his departure, with Pelicans general manager Dell Demps insisting Cousins was invited back -- reportedly for two years at $40 million -- while Cousins consistently disagrees that any offer was made.
Unable to exact revenge on his own, Cousins urged his teammates to get it on his behalf.
“He didn’t give a speech,” Jones said. “He just said it.”
So the sting lingers. It’s not enough that the Warriors have their own connections with New Orleans. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was an assistant on Steve Kerr’s staff in 2014-15, and New Orleans assistant Darren Erman was a member of Mark Jackson’s staff before Kerr replaced Jackson.
Furthermore, the Warriors eliminated the Pelicans in the Western Conference semifinals in five games -- with Cousins restricted to observing from the bench.
Cousins was the last Warriors to leave the practice floor on Wednesday. It was if he was trying to will himself to be available for this game.