DeMarcus Cousins, on the Warriors’ potential: ‘Scary’

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins perfectly summed up the potential of the Golden State Warriors.

“Scary,” he said.

The rest of the league likely agrees.

Cousins signed his contract Friday to join the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors for this coming season, one in which he’ll make $5.3 million. He isn’t sure when his surgically repaired Achilles will allow him to start playing with his new team – being ready for the start of training camp seems quite doubtful – but he can already envision what might happen when he returns to form.

“Of course it’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of hard work and dedication, and also a lot of sacrifice from not only myself but other guys on the team as well,” Cousins told reporters Friday night at the NBA Summer League. “That’s something that we all are aware of and that’s something we accepted already.”

When he returns, something he says he won’t do until he’s back to 100 percent, the Warriors could have a starting five composed entirely of 2018 All-Stars – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at guard, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at forward, Cousins at center.

It’s mindboggling even for Warriors coach Steve Kerr to think about.

“We just felt like we didn’t have enough All-Stars,” Kerr deadpanned in an in-game interview with ESPN’s Mark Jones and Doris Burke during the Warriors’ summer league game Friday.

Kerr told the story of his meeting with Cousins and how he asked him the following first question: When seven consecutive possessions go by and Curry and Thompson take all the shots, how will you feel?

If it was a test, Cousins passed easily. He assured Kerr that wouldn’t be a problem.

“We wanted to make sure it made sense for both sides,” Kerr said.

Cousins has been an All-Star in each of the last six seasons, averaging at least 24 points per game in each of those. With the Warriors, he knows the scoring numbers will likely dip.

Again, he apparently has no problem with that. He said he can see some nights where he takes only four shots, even though that’s happened only four times in his 535-game career.

“It may be some games where I’m the leading scorer,” Cousins said. “I look at that as a positive. I don’t have to be the guy every night. I’ve always wanted a team where everything doesn’t rely on me and now I’m in that position.”

He’s going to be in playoff position as well. Cousins has never lost an NBA playoff game, because he’s never appeared in an NBA playoff game. His last postseason playing experience was with Kentucky and its run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

“I’m coming in just playing my part,” Cousins said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team win. Of course, I’m in a position where I’m able to play for a championship and every NBA player’s goal is to win a championship. So I’m coming in and I’ll do whatever it takes.”

 

Where will Carmelo Anthony play next? Bet on banana boat buddies.

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When you wonder where Carmelo Anthony is going to play next, you need to think back to his buddies on the banana boat.

As had been expected, Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder are working toward a parting of the ways — via trade, buyout, stretch or some combination of all of it. This was the right move for both sides: the Thunder will save $80 million to $100 million in luxury tax (depending on how a deal is put together); ‘Melo doesn’t want to play a shrinking role in Oklahoma City, and that’s all that would be available to him.

Once this all gets worked out, where will Anthony sign next? On a veteran minimum deal (most likely, maybe a small exception) he can fit financially on any elite team in the league. Let’s break down the contenders, and it all starts with the teams who have his banana boat buddies.

• The Houston Rockets (and banana boater Chris Paul). We know the Rockets like Anthony, they worked very hard to get him last summer before a trade with the Knicks just fell apart (because someone in New York sobered up and thought “we don’t want Ryan Anderson and that contract”).

We also know there’s a natural fit in the roster because Trevor Ariza bolted to take Phoenix’s cash. Anthony can space the floor as a shooter, he hit 35.7 percent from three last season and was solid on spot-up jumpers. The Rockets are an isolation heavy team, and isolations/post-ups accounted for 32.5 percent of Anthony’s possessions last season. And he can still get buckets at a fair rate that way.

The problems are Anthony is not a three anymore — he played either no minutes or just 250 there last season for OKC (depending on how your ranked him with certain lineups), he was always a four — and he is a defensive liability, he can be targeted on the switches that are the heart of the Rockets’ defensive strategy (Anthony did better on switches statistically than you would think during the regular season, he wasn’t bad, but in the playoffs the Jazz targeted him and played Anthony off the court.

• The Los Angeles Lakers (and banana boater LeBron James). The Lakers are trying to amass some veterans and playmakers/scorers to go around their young core and LeBron so they can win games this season, yet remain flexible going forward. Anthony could fit in with that, plus the Lakers’ roster is nearly devoid of shooting and Anthony can still do that.

The challenge with the Lakers is fit. The Lakers don’t want to take the ball out of the hands of LeBron or Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma, and those are the guys who will split time at the forward slots for L.A. next season. Put simply, the Lakers would be slowing the development of their best young talent if they bring in and lean on Carmelo, and that is just not smart. Still, never say never to this as a one-year experiment.

• Miami Heat (and banana boater Dwyane Wade). This actually makes some sense on the court, Anthony could step in and fill the shooting big role that Kelly Olynyk filled for the Heat last season. During the regular season the Heat can hide Anthony defensively thanks to the versatility of James Johnson, Josh Richardson, and Justise Winslow.

Miami’s medical staff and conditioning focus have extended the career of many a player, that could be good for the 34-year-old Anthony. But Erik Spoelstra and staff will want to keep Anthony in a specific role and will be blunt with him about it. Is that what Anthony wants to sign up for?

• The Golden State Warriors. If Anthony really wants to ring chase, he can lob them a call. However, talk about a team that wants to play fast, move the ball, defend hard, and put Anthony into a very small role, this would be the pinnacle of that. Golden State can play Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Jordan Bell key minutes at the four, Anthony would be a luxury. After what Anthony said following the playoffs last season when the Thunder shrunk his role during the playoffs (he didn’t like it one bit) it’s hard to imagine he signs up for this.

• Other teams may jump into the mix. The question Anthony needs to ask himself is what he wants most? Touches and a big role? A title? Those two things are not coming in one package, so where is that line? Only Anthony can answer that question.

NBA Twitter reacts — and overreacts — to DeMarcus Cousins with Warriors

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The Golden State Warriors reached a deal with DeMarcus Cousins.

NBA Twitter reacted with its usual measured, well thought out approach we have come to love and expect.

The Warriors did not ruin the NBA with this signing. Cousins is coming off a torn Achilles (an injury that has ruined many a big man), will not play until around the All-Star break (he says earlier, but the Warriors are not about to rush him), was not a guy known for his conditioning before this, and with the up-and-down style of the Warriors Cousins will be used mostly in specific matchups. He’s an upgrade over JaVale McGee/Zaza Pachulia, but we don’t really know how good Cousins will be when he comes back.

NBA Twitter acted like the Warriors just added prime Michael Jordan to the roster.

It started with players:

Warriors players liked it more. Shockingly. Remember that Cousins, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson all played on the same Olympics team and know each other.

As for the rest of NBA Twitter, it looked a lot like this.

Report: Warriors loading up super team with DeMarcus Cousins

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The Warriors had All-Stars at four of five positions:

And now Golden State will add an All-Star center in DeMarcus Cousins.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Cousins – recovering from an Achilles tear – wasn’t getting the offers he desired in free agency. The Pelicans are signing Julius Randle. The Mavericks are signing DeAndre Jordan. The Lakers are signing a pu pu platter of players to surround LeBron James. Few other spending teams need centers.

He probably could have gotten more than the $5,337,000 taxpayer mid-level exception Golden State will pay him, but Cousins wasn’t getting a better chance at a ring and environment to prove himself. Remember, Cousins has never played in the playoffs. He can gain so much next season – except a high salary. But, if all goes well, he’ll generate massive demand in 2019 free agency.

This is a low-risk, high-reward swing for the Warriors. Cousins’ attitude could disrupt their ecosystem, but they’ve dealt with difficult personalities before – maybe more than we realize.

Cousins could also clash with Golden State’s up-tempo, quick-decision preferences, but these Warriors can play multiple styles. Especially as their veterans age, they might embrace slowing the pace.

This will be a fascinating experiment, and – chemistry aside – the floor is a championship-caliber team with Jordan Bell at center. The ceiling? It’s a lot higher than Cousins can jump right now.

LeBron and the Lakers’ moment lasted barely a full day. Golden State is staking an even stronger case as the greatest team of all-time.

Report: Steve Kerr finalizing contract extension with Warriors

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The Warriors are going to take care of their core. Stephen Curry got paid last summer, Kevin Durant will get his this summer, and the days are coming for Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

There’s also Steve Kerr.

The coach that was the architect of the style that has changed the league, the guy with the rings who has the respect of his players and knows when to push the right buttons, is part of that core, too. And now he is going to get paid as well, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“Highest paid” means he’s going to be making at least $7 million a year, although we don’t know the details.

Kerr has said he loves coaching this team, which is why he keeps coming back. He missed time a couple of years ago with a back issue, which forced Luke Walton to coach during the season. Mike Brown has had to step up into the big chair as well at times for Kerr.

Kerr loves this team, these players, and the challenge of coaching an all-time great team. He likes coming up with ways to keep them engaged and fresh (even if it frustrates him at times). He loves the challenge of teams rising up to go at them, from Cleveland and LeBron James through Houston this season. Kerr doesn’t want to walk away from it. Not yet.

The Warriors are making sure he doesn’t have to.