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Like pretty much well, everyone, Steve Kerr was surprised DeMarcus Cousins signed with Golden State for the $5.3 million mid-level exception.
In fact, the Warriors coach went as far as to call Cousins ending up with Golden State a “fluke,” in an interesting interview with Ethan Strauss of The Athletic.
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 7, 2018
“It was just such a fluke that he slipped through the cracks. So it was not part of a plan,” Kerr said. “It just sort of it happened, but when stuff like that happens you gotta be ready and you gotta pounce and that’s what (general manager) Bob (Myers) did.”
Kerr, who has led the Warriors to back-to-back NBA championships and three in the last four seasons, said adding a dominant player such as Cousins to the mix requires vision and sacrifice.
“It’s why we talked with Kevin (Durant) and Draymond (Green) and Steph (Curry), Andre (Iguodala) about all this stuff because it’s going to be different, it’s going to feel different, but I think it’s important to keep evolving,” he said. “You know the league keeps chasing us. Everybody’s getting better; you saw what Houston did. You’re seeing everybody switch everything against us. They’ve kind of figured out a set of rules to try to defend us.
“It doesn’t mean it’s going to work, but they’re constantly tweaking and adding and trying to figure us out. I think this gives us a whole ‘nother dimension that they’ll have to account for so we’re just trying to stay ahead of the pack.”
Still rehabilitating a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in January, there has been speculation Cousins might not return to the court until February.
“Well, I don’t know that it’s going to be February. His agent, Jarinn (Akana), thinks it’ll be more like late-November, December, somewhere in that range, but who knows?” Kerr said. “We’ll have a better feel for that, our training staff will have a feel for that. But in some ways that’s a good thing because we can start the year playing the way we have, our young guys are going to get minutes.
“It’ll give us all a great chance to get to know DeMarcus. I can watch film with him, I can sit with him and we can kind of discuss ways to use him, how he’s going to fit in. We’ll do team film sessions where he’ll be involved, so he’ll get a really good feel for everything and we’ll get to know him and build a relationship before we put him out there. So I think that’s a positive actually.”
The Warriors coach said he had a conversation with Cousins before the deal became official.
“That was a prerequisite. I wanted to talk to him about how this was going to work and I told him a little bit about KD’s transition into the team and how there is sacrifice involved, but the sacrifice is relative,” he said. “It depends how you look at it. If you want to win, if you want to be part of a great team, is that really sacrificing?”
The result of that talk between Kerr and Cousins has the coach believing the situation will work out.
“He understands that it’s going to be a different role for him, but he’s excited about it. He wants to win,” he said of Cousins. “He’s never played in the playoffs. He’s played with these guys before, some of them in the Olympics and Team USA, but we needed to talk about all that to create an awareness and an understanding before we all sort of committed to this.
“It’s not necessarily going to be easy, but we all have to commit to the team and go for it.”
While Kerr said he has not heard the rampant speculation basically saying, “Why even bother playing next season?” with Golden State able to field a lineup of five All-Stars, he understands the narrative.
“I haven’t really noticed it. I mean I knew it was coming,” he said. “Bob and I sort of looked at each other after this happened and just shook our heads and started laughing.
“Like, people are really going to hate us now.”