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Warriors’ Cousins to start upon return, Kerr says

OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr says DeMarcus Cousins will start when he makes his season debut, likely on Jan. 18 against the Clippers.

Cousins, who signed a one-year deal with the Warriors last summer, has been rehabbing a torn left Achilles injury as he makes his long awaited return to the floor.

“He’ll start,” Kerr said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ll start him. 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 the minutes, the combinations, the sets.

“We haven’t had a player like him here before. So it will be new; it won’t be as simple [as] plug him in and he’ll fit right in. We’re going to play through him some so there will be a period where we all have to adapt. Fortunately we’re halfway through the year, we have a lot of games to figure this out.”

Kerr noted after Tuesday’s win that Cousins may try to return a couple days before for the game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins’ former team, but Cousins acknowledged that the Jan. 18 return date was a decision made in conjunction with the coaching staff and training staff.

“It was a battle between myself, the training staff, the guys at the top,” Cousins said. “Eventually we all got on the same page and we settled for that date.”

Kerr said several times in the last week that he believes Cousins has broken through the conditioning “barrier” that has held him back in his rehab. Cousins has been around the Warriors all season aside from a few practices with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors last month.

“I think DeMarcus the last couple weeks has had a smile on his face,” Kerr said. “I think the impending return is finally — after all these months of rehab, almost a year — I think he’s pretty happy that it’s finally coming up.”

For his part, Cousins admitted being relieved that the rehab process was almost over.

“It’s a relief,” Cousins said. “It’s been a long year for me. A lot of ups and downs. But the finish line is ahead, and I’m extremely excited to be back on the floor.”

Cousins, who averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds a game with the Pelicans last season prior to his injury, knows he won’t be getting the same shot attempts he is used to as a member of the Warriors — but he is looking forward to playing with many of the same All-Stars that he played with on the 2016 USA Olympic team. The Warriors are happy to have his talent on the roster, but know that there will be an adjustment period for all involved once he is back in games.

In the meantime, Cousins says one of the biggest things he’s learned in being around the Warriors over the last few months is simple.

“They actually do miss shots,” he said.

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