Golden State center DeMarcus Cousins is targeting Jan. 18 for his return to the court, and said he plans to start when the Warriors face the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Head coach Steve Kerr confirmed Thursday that Cousins will start immediately upon his return.
“Yeah, I’ll start him,” Kerr said. “After that, everything’s on the table. We have to figure out what the rotations will look like, how many minutes he can play. We’ll have to play around with it — the minutes, the combinations, the sets. We haven’t had a player like him here before.”
Cousins, a four-time All-Star, has not played since he suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon playing for the New Orleans Pelicans against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 26, 2018.
Cousins joined the Warriors on a one-year, $5.3 million deal in free agency with the expectation he could return to the court early in 2019. Though he began practicing with Golden State’s G League team in Santa Cruz in mid-December, some reports indicated his Warriors debut would likely be delayed until February.
Cousins and the Warriors decided on a Jan. 18 return, a source told ESPN, after initially considering a Jan. 16 return against the visiting Pelicans.
In the past week, Cousins has made some “big strides” in his rehab and conditioning, according to Kerr. The return date is set as long as those strides continue and he is cleared by Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance.
“It’s looked to us and it’s felt to him that he has broken through a barrier,” Kerr said. “And we were waiting for that barrier. So that he’s through that barrier, and assuming everything goes well the next week or two, that’s sort of the idea to get him in some time that week.”
The impending return has thrilled Cousins’ teammates, including All-Star swingman Klay Thompson.
“It’s exciting,” Thompson said. “I know our fan base is excited. The NBA is excited. I can’t wait to integrate him with our team. He adds a whole new dimension. Especially on the block, he’s such a handful down there, his ability to play-make. So I’m excited to get DeMarcus back. He’s been great in the rehab process. I commend him for sticking with it.”
Before the injury last season, Cousins was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks for the Pelicans.
—Field Level Media