Nothing here is surprising, but Steve Kerr made it official on Monday at Warriors practice.
Durant’s availability is obviously one of the big storylines heading into the NBA Finals — if you can add the best player in the world right now to the lineup it changes things. It would force the Raptors to put Kawhi Leonard on Durant more, keeping him away from Stephen Curry and other roles. My guess is what happens in the first game or two — can the Warriors steal one on the road? — could impact how early we see Durant in this series.
(Someone is going to say “Kawhi Leonard is the best player in the world right now” and he has been the best player in these playoffs, performing at a level only a handful of guys could ever reach. However, Durant was playing just as well before his injury, and he has the last two Finals MVPs. Also, so long as Leonard can only play about 60 regular season games, as he did this season, he falls behind Durant and his 78 games on my hypothetical best-in-the-world rankings. Availability over the long haul matters.)
DeMarcus Cousins wants badly to be on the court. He came to the Warriors in part because he wanted to finally be in the playoffs and chase a ring. He wants to contribute.
How much he could contribute in this series, even if fully healthy, is up for debate. He wasn’t moving all that well, especially on the perimeter, coming off his torn Achilles, and now he’s also recovering from a quad tear. The Raptors will target him. Plus, Cousins can’t bully Marc Gasol in the post, and Gasol has to be covered out to the arc on the other end. Serge Ibaka is very mobile. Both Raptors centers are tough matchups for Cousins. Considering Kevon Looney‘s play and the inevitable Hamptons’ Five lineups with Draymond Green at center, Cousins likely would have seen reduced duty anyway. This gives Kerr and excuse to limit him whenever Cousins does return.