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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’ additional time loss two seasons in the past in opposition to the Sacramento Kings. The witnesses didn’t overlook, 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 facet 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 might relate, proper?” Kerr recalled saying, conscious that Cousins has collected 118 technicals via 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 communicate 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 practically the final 12 months rehabbing his left Achilles tendon. These will seemingly proceed when Cousins presumably returns on Jan. 18 in opposition to the Clippers in Los Angeles. The early returns on Cousins’ dynamic with Kerr, nevertheless, seem optimistic.
One of many causes: Kerr mentioned he understands Cousins’ emotional outbursts. In spite of everything, Kerr collected seven technicals final season. He has coached one other emotional participant in Draymond Inexperienced, who has accrued 67 technicals via 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 power to snap at occasions. That’s as a result of we’re all aggressive. We need to win. We need to succeed. We’ve bought to determine one of the simplest ways to all coexist and channel all that vitality and emotion in the appropriate course.”
Not solely has Kerr developed an appreciation for Cousins’ emotional depth. Kerr has had empathy for Cousins amid his practically year-long effort with rehabbing his left Achilles tendon after injuring it on Jan. 26, 2018 with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I’ve loads of compassion for him simply due to all he’s been via,” Kerr mentioned. “When you consider when the damage occurred, he was on the point of signal a near-max contract. Whether or not it was with New Orleans or another person, that’s a life-changing sum of money, to not point out the quantity of gratification that comes from being among the best gamers on the earth and an All-Star proper in his prime. That every one went down the drain for him.”
That improvement opened up a chance 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 improve his market worth subsequent summer time.
“Rehabbing daily and watching everybody else play basketball, that’s not straightforward,” Kerr mentioned. “So, we’ve tried to assist him via that.”
Throughout a 12 months that Cousins described as “loads of up-and-downs,” he mentioned he relied on his household throughout his darkish occasions. Cousins added that he used “various things as gasoline to maintain me shifting 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 Crew 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 take a seat 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 prior to now 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 had 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 searching for a sure factor on the teaching facet of issues. For me, it was sort of the identical factor daily,” Cousins mentioned. “It was laborious to search out that time the place I can simply break via and truly do what he was searching for. I feel that’s extra on the teaching facet 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 bought a smile on his face” for apparent causes.
“He made an enormous step and his total happiness appears higher,” Kerr mentioned. “He’s in a greater place, and now we’ve bought to assist him alongside as a result of it’s not going to be straightforward 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 heart 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 prior to now 4 years. Nonetheless, the Warriors and Cousins admit they have no idea how lengthy it’ll 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 all people,” 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 night time, 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 are impassive.”
Cousins turned a stronger fan of Kerr, nevertheless, when he misplaced his feelings two years in the past in Sacramento. All of which provides a robust sign Kerr and Cousins might have a robust partnership.