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OAKLAND – Steve Kerr charged to the official at halfcourt. He threw out his proper arm. He yelled out a string of expletives.
The Warriors coach confirmed a lot anger over Draymond Inexperienced getting known as for a technical foul that assistant coach Mike Brown wanted to restrain Kerr at halfcourt.
This episode occurred in a forgettable Warriors’ time beyond regulation loss two seasons in the past in opposition to the Sacramento Kings. The witnesses didn’t neglect, although. The second not solely confirmed that the usually considerate and calm Kerr has a mood and aggressive streak he can unleash at any second. Then with the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins noticed one other aspect of his future head coach.
“The ref kicks me out, and I flip round and I lock eyes with DeMarcus,” Kerr recalled with fun. “And he’s giving me a glance.”
Almost 2 ½ years later, the Warriors acquired Cousins with their taxpayer midlevel exception value $5.three million. So on the primary day of coaching camp, Kerr locked eyes with Cousins once more.
“You would relate, proper?” Kerr recalled saying, conscious that Cousins has collected 118 technicals by his eight-year NBA profession with Sacramento (2010-2017) and New Orleans (2017-18).
“I might completely relate,” Cousins mentioned, based on Kerr. After apply on Thursday, Cousins defined why.
“It simply reveals he’s on the market battling for his gamers. His feelings are within the sport, which is nice. Previously, I’ve performed for coaches that….” Cousins mentioned earlier than trailing off. “I received’t even converse on that time. It’s good to see his feelings are within the sport.”
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The Warriors might face loads of questions on how the Warriors combine Cousins after spending almost the final yr rehabbing his left Achilles tendon. These will doubtless proceed when Cousins probably returns on Jan. 18 in opposition to the Clippers in Los Angeles. The early returns on Cousins’ dynamic with Kerr, nevertheless, seem constructive.
One of many causes: Kerr mentioned he understands Cousins’ emotional outbursts. In any case, Kerr collected seven technicals final season. He has coached one other emotional participant in Draymond Inexperienced, who has gathered 67 technicals by seven NBA seasons and had 15 final season. Kevin Durant trailed shortly behind Inexperienced final season with 14 technicals.
“[Demarcus] is aware of I’ve a mood and a fuse, and so does Draymond,” Kerr mentioned. “The three of us all have the flexibility to snap at occasions. That’s as a result of we’re all aggressive. We need to win. We need to succeed. We’ve acquired to determine one of the best ways to all coexist and channel all that vitality and emotion in the correct route.”
Not solely has Kerr developed an appreciation for Cousins’ emotional depth. Kerr has had empathy for Cousins amid his almost year-long effort with rehabbing his left Achilles tendon after injuring it on Jan. 26, 2018 with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I’ve quite a lot of compassion for him simply due to all he’s been by,” Kerr mentioned. “When you concentrate on when the damage occurred, he was on the brink of signal a near-max contract. Whether or not it was with New Orleans or another person, that’s a life-changing amount of cash, to not point out the quantity of gratification that comes from being among the finest gamers on the earth and an All-Star proper in his prime. That each one went down the drain for him.”
That improvement opened up a possibility for the Warriors. Amid a depressed market due to considerations about an damage that has ended or altered loads of NBA gamers’ careers, Cousins agreed to take a paycut with the Warriors in hopes to win his first NBA championship and enhance his market worth subsequent summer time.
“Rehabbing daily and watching everybody else play basketball, that’s not simple,” Kerr mentioned. “So, we’ve tried to assist him by that.”
Throughout a yr that Cousins described as “quite a lot of up-and-downs,” he mentioned he relied on his household throughout his darkish occasions. Cousins added that he used “various things as gas to maintain me transferring ahead” to develop a “chip on my shoulder.” The Warriors tried making Cousins really feel like household, too.
Cousins already had shut relationships with the Warriors’ All-Stars after enjoying with them on Group USA within the 2014 FIBA World Championships (Stephen Curry Klay Thompson) and the 2016 Rio Olympics (the entire Warriors All-Stars sans Curry). The Warriors invited Cousins on workforce occasions and journeys when his rehab allowed it. Kerr accommodated Cousins’ proposal to sit down on the workforce bench throughout most video games. By mentoring the Warriors’ younger entrance courtroom gamers in Damian Jones, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney from the sidelines, Cousins famous that “saved me engaged with the sport.”
As soon as Cousins scrimmaged in Warriors practices previously two weeks, they introduced out his competitiveness. Cousins performed a sport of one-on-one in opposition to Durant that ended with Cousins dunking on Durant, who fell to the bottom. “That’s wack,” Cousins mentioned. At different occasions, Cousins scrimmaged with Warriors assistant coach/director of participant improvement Chris DeMarco, Thompson’s older brother (Mychel) and a handful of the Warriors’ younger gamers. Then, Kerr turned entertained with Cousins’ exchanges with DeMarco.
“There’s a routine trash speaking that goes on between the 2 that’s extremely entertaining,” Kerr mentioned.
There was friction elsewhere, and it supplied an preliminary check on how Kerr manages Cousins. He needed to return earlier, however these needs have been shot down by Kerr and Dr. Rick Celebrini, who oversees the Warriors’ coaching employees.
The Warriors mentioned with Cousins about returning round his Jan. 18 goal date. That occurred solely after Cousins skilled what Kerr known as as a “breakthrough” in his previous two scrimmages.
“Steve was on the lookout for a sure factor on the teaching aspect of issues. For me, it was type of the identical factor daily,” Cousins mentioned. “It was exhausting to seek out that time the place I can simply break by and really do what he was on the lookout for. I feel that’s extra on the teaching aspect of issues. I’m on the level the place I’m able to be again on the ground.”
What was that factor?
“You bought to ask Coach,” mentioned Cousins, whom Kerr mentioned had wanted to enhance his conditioning.
Since then, Kerr noticed that Cousins “has acquired a smile on his face” for apparent causes.
“He made a giant step and his general happiness appears higher,” Kerr mentioned. “He’s in a greater place, and now we’ve acquired to assist him alongside as a result of it’s not going to be simple when he comes again. That is simply the following step of the method.”
The Warriors have cautious optimism that subsequent step of the method will entail upgrading their tenuous middle spot with a confirmed All-Star and inject function right into a workforce that has struggled discovering any within the common season after profitable three NBA championships previously 4 years. Nonetheless, the Warriors and Cousins admit they have no idea how lengthy it is going to take for him to shed off rust and develop into snug along with his new function.
Cousins sounded sure about one factor, although.
“I’m excited to play with everyone,” Cousins mentioned. “I’m excited to be coached by the teaching employees.”
One of many causes: he appreciates the sting Kerr and his gamers have.
“It reveals your coronary heart is in it. After I’m going to battle each evening, I would like all my teammates to have my coronary heart into the sport,” Cousins mentioned. “It reveals that you simply care. It reveals that it means one thing to you. I’m probably not a fan of the fellows which might be impassive.”
Cousins turned a stronger fan of Kerr, nevertheless, when he misplaced his feelings two years in the past in Sacramento. All of which affords a robust sign Kerr and Cousins might have a robust partnership.
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