Cousins ready to prove he’s good teammate with GS
OAKLAND, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins spent his first eight seasons in the NBA chasing two things — peace and the playoffs.
After signing with Golden State as a free agent, the four-time All-Star center has no doubts he’ll finally find both, and that those will help dispel the notion that he’s a bad teammate.
“Just a chance to play for a winning culture,” Cousins said Thursday. “I also have a chance to play with some of the most talented players of this era. Those two things alone, that pretty much sums it up.”
Looking relaxed while sitting on a stage next to Warriors general manager Bob Myers, Cousins was at ease during a news conference at the team’s practice facility.
Golden State’s fiery big man seems content in his new surroundings and wants the hardware to show for it.
“Every guy said let’s go get another championship,” Cousins said. “They are a well-established team and they could have easily been like, ‘No, we don’t need him.’ But they were excited like a team that’s never accomplished anything.”
While his signing in Golden State drew mostly groans from around the NBA, Cousins didn’t need much persuading to join the two-time defending champions. He has never played in the postseason, is coming off Achilles surgery in January and didn’t attract much attention in free agency until signing a $5.3 million, one-year contract with Golden State.
From the Warriors’ side, it’s a case of the rich getting richer. They’ve won the championship three of the past four seasons with an attack heavy on perimeter shooting and defense. In the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins, they now have a dominant presence on the low block as well.
“It’s a different dimension,” Myers said. “It’s not something that we’ve ever had as far as a low-post threat since I’ve been here. I’m excited. I hope he’s excited.”
Cousins averaged 25.2 points and career highs in rebounds (12.9), assists (5.4) and minutes (36.2) with New Orleans before getting hurt. He has been frustrated by the tediousness of rehab but is being cautious in his approach.
“I’m progressing weekly, which is a positive,” Cousins said. “As far as a timetable . to be determined. I have to be smart about it. I’m in a unique situation as well where I’m not needed right away. Time is kind of on my side so I have a chance to get to 100 percent.
“Making it to the playoffs won’t be an issue for this team obviously. Once the basketball part comes, everything else will take care of itself.”
A throng of media attended the news conference, flanked by 150 young fans who were taking part in a basketball camp held by Warriors. Cousins answered questions from two of the youngsters who were eager to know who his favorite players were growing up.
The 27-year-old with a quick temper and a history of piling up technical fouls at a rapid rate showed a playful side when he joked about the possibility of fighting with new teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, two players with whom he’s had on-court issues in the past.
“Might as well,” Cousins said as the crowd laughed.
TORONTO — Raptors president Masai Ujiri apologized Friday for a “miscommunication” with four-time All-Star and franchise icon DeMar DeRozan, but Toronto’s traded All-Star guard didn’t seem quite ready to make amends.
Speaking for the first time since sending DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard, Ujiri began by saying sorry to DeRozan. The career Raptor had expressed anger and frustration in an Instagram post after learning of the deal, indicating he’d been told he would not be traded.
Shortly after Ujiri apologized Friday, DeRozan added a new post to his Instagram feed: a facepalm emoji, a symbol of frustration and exasperation.
Reflecting on a conversation he’d had with DeRozan at Summer League earlier this month, Ujiri said he “should have handled it better” when discussing future plans.
“Maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him,” Ujiri said. “I think that’s where the gap was, because in my job I always have to assume that I’m going forward with the team that I have. If there was a miscommunication there, I do apologize to DeMar.”
Still, after three straight disappointing playoff exits, Ujiri felt something needed to change with the Raptors. He acknowledged struggling with the “human side” of the trade, but decided Leonard was too good a prize to pass up.
Now, Ujiri says, the Raptors “are stepping on territory that we never have.”
“I think if we look at ourselves honestly, everybody knows that we had to do something different, even if it wasn’t this,” Ujiri said.