Storyline: DeMarcus Cousins Injury

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On May 19, 2018, Cousins posted a picture to Twitter and Instagram that showed Wilkins moments after he ruptured his Achilles. It gave Cousins hope and he praised the legend’s comeback. Shortly after, the two NBA stars connected. “I reached out to him,” Wilkins told HoopsHype. “I told him, ‘Don’t listen to all of the critics. Nobody knows your heart the way that you do. Use that to your advantage. Don’t let all of the critics dictate who you are.’”

Some fans questioned why Wilkins has been willing to help a rival player, considering he is Atlanta’s Vice President of Basketball and Cousins obviously plays for the Warriors. However, for Wilkins, this is much bigger than competing with Golden State. “People look at it and ask why I’m lighting a fire in a guy who isn’t on my team, but, to me, that doesn’t matter,” Wilkins explained. “It’s not about that! It’s about helping someone continue to fulfill their dreams. That’s what was the most important thing to me because, look, I’ve been through it! I’ve been through this. I know what he’s dealing with.”

After getting to know Cousins throughout this process, Wilkins has become a big believer in the former Kentucky product. “I would be very surprised if he didn’t come back and get back to the level he once was at,” Wilkins said. “He’s a guy who absolutely loves to play. He plays with emotion. He plays with a fire. And the good thing for him is he was a lot younger at 27 years old [than I was when I had the injury]. He’s a guy who’s really committed. We’ve had some great conversations. I love his game. I really do love his game,” Wilkins continued. “He plays with a lot of emotion and passion, and I have no problem with that. He’s a guy who’s always going to play hard and he’s going to go after guys. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, and that’s what makes you great. He’s one of those throwback guys [who remind me] of the players you’d see back when I played. He’s that kind of guy.”

Nick DePaula: EXCLUSIVE: DeMarcus Cousins will debut with the Warriors on Friday in this Puma Clyde Court PE. Shoes feature a racing flag graphic and @BoogieCousins’ mantra “The Marathon Continues…” as he returns to action.

Dominique Wilkins could hear the melancholy in DeMarcus Cousins’ voice last June. Five months removed from a season-ending Achilles injury, Cousins’ career was suddenly in doubt: Would anyone pick him up in free agency? Could he play at an All-Star level again? During that phone conversation, Wilkins told Cousins not to worry about his critics because “no one knows your heart like you do.” The Hall of Famer’s message resonated. Twenty-six years earlier, Wilkins was 32 when he tore his right Achilles tendon, only to come back nine months later and make two more All-NBA teams.

“People always doubt people first before they give people credit for how quickly they can come back from those types of injuries, but it depends on the person,” Wilkins said. “I think DeMarcus is a guy who’s put the work in and is going to be fine.” The breakthrough for Cousins came in the past couple of weeks, when he started to show flashes of dominance in workouts. Finally, after almost 12 months of rehab, Cousins looked self-assured as he leapt for rebounds and threw down dunks. Instead of worrying about his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, the four-time All-Star was able to play on instinct.

Through a handful of phone calls, DeMarcus Cousins received a blueprint on how to overcome the biggest challenge of his nine-year NBA career. Well before he could even begin his rehab, Cousins contacted one of the NBA’s best dunkers (former Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins), one of the league’s best scorers (former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant), a former teammate (San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay) and a dependable NBA role player (Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Mathews). Shortly after the Warriors signed Cousins to a one-year $5.3 million deal last July with their mid-level taxpayer exception, Cousins spoke with the Warriors’ other free agent acquisition (Jonas Jerebko).

“I wasn’t really looking for a specific answer to get through it,” Cousins said. “I wanted to see what each guy’s mindset was and compare it to my own.” Each players’ journey has been different. They mostly stressed similar messages, though. While Wilkins advised Cousins “not to listen to the critics,” Gay instructed Cousins, “don’t feel sorry for yourself.” A few months following Cousins’ surgery on Jan. 31, 2018, Mathews told him “to take his time.” Shortly after the two became teammates last summer, Jerebko argued the same thing.
1 month ago via ESPN

Cousins, who signed a one-year deal with the Warriors last summer, will make his long-awaited return to the floor after rehabbing a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered Jan. 26, 2018. “He’ll start,” Kerr said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ll start him. After that, everything’s on the table. We have to figure out what the rotations will look like, how many minutes he can play. We’ll have to play around with the minutes, the combinations, the sets. “We haven’t had a player like him here before. So it will be new; it won’t be as simple [as] plug him in and he’ll fit right in. We’re going to play through him some so there will be a period where we all have to adapt. Fortunately we’re halfway through the year, we have a lot of games to figure this out.”

Cousins is expected to take a leave of absence from the Warriors to attend his grandmother’s funeral on Jan. 4 in his hometown of Mobile. “She was the foundation of the family,” a teary-eyed Cousins said. “So, I’m going into 2019 with that. She was everything for us. … She was the root of our family. To lose a vital piece like that to our family is devastating to everyone. “She lived an incredible and very long life. She went out happy. She went out painless. I couldn’t have asked for a better life for my grandma.”

“It’s not about my Achilles, not about one specific part of my body; it’s my entire body. It’s about being out of shape, taking a year off basketball, then jumping into an NBA game. That leaves you pretty open to get another injury, like a hammy strain.” The Warriors are also going to ask him to defend like he never has before. They know the teams that matter will target him, will drag him out on the perimeter, will leverage the Warriors’ switching scheme to test his recovered leg, his lateral movement (never one of his strengths) and willingness to defend at a playoff level, a foreign world to Cousins.

After facing three more questions about DeMarcus Cousins’ rehab progress, Kerr, a little bit tired of the subject, delivered an answer that should end any bubbling optimism that Cousins could make his return before the calendar year ends. “We’re not really that close,” Kerr said. “I don’t want this to be about: ‘Hey, we’re right there.’ We’re not right there. It’s still going to be some time. We’re going to be patient and continue to give DeMarcus the space he needs to prepare. When the time is right, we’ll have some things planned for him.”

After practicing twice this week with Golden State’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, center DeMarcus Cousins isn’t necessarily close to making his Warriors debut. “That’s why we still don’t have a timetable,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said. “He needs to feel confident with the Achilles, his conditioning, his rhythm, his timing and everything else. We’re not going to rush him back. We’re going to help him through that process. When it happens, it happens.”

In the immediate, the loss isn’t as concerning. Cousins is entering the final stages of his rehab and should debut somewhere around the New Year. He took part in a scrimmage after practice on Sunday in Detroit and dunked a few times. “DeMarcus is making some strides,” Kerr said. “He’s looking a lot better to me the last couple days, the intensity of his workouts. He took part in every aspect of practice. … He will fully take part in every practice we have this week, every shootaround.”

There have been no setbacks in his recovery process and the decision to push his target date back was made so Cousins can regain his conditioning and enter the lineup at peak form. … Cousins – who signed a one-year, $5.2 million deal in July – participated in a scrimmage alongside Stephen Curry Saturday before the team’s 117-116 victory over the Kings. According to a player in the scrimmage, Cousins looked “solid.” The scrimmages have been a part of Cousins’ new six-day a week regimen with the team in anticipation of his pending return.

As for the game, Cousins sat on the bench in his warmups and uniform, instead of behind the bench in a suit, initially stationed next to Andre Iguodala before Iguodala entered the game. That was part of the plan hatched by the Warriors coaching staff. “The only thing we talked about last week was that we wanted him on the bench with the guys,” Kerr said. “He wanted to be there. It wasn’t like we had to twist his arm or anything. We want him out there sitting next to his teammates, sitting next to coaches, communicating and seeing how it all works with us. He was really communicating with Damian quite a bit tonight. It was good to see.”

DeMarcus Cousins to practice with team soon?

A day into Warriors training camp, DeMarcus Cousins is making solid progress in his rehab from a torn left Achilles tendon. “I don’t think it will take too long before he takes part in practice,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday afternoon. “But for right now, it’s important he gets his full workout with the training staff.” The 6-foot-11 center, entering his eighth NBA season, will be re-evaluated by team trainers Oct. 22, which rules him out of the team’s five preseason games and its first three regular-season games. Odds are, of course, that he’ll miss more time.

“DeMarcus did a ton of movement stuff, court work, ballhandling and shooting stuff on his own,” Kerr said, “but he did not take part with the team. We’re just taking it slowly with him.” Added 6-foot-9 forward Jordan Bell, who is competing for the starting center job in Cousins’ absence: “He’s getting better every day. These last two weeks, he’s been working out with little drills that we do. “He can still shoot and can still handle the ball. He’s obviously not 100 percent healthy yet, but you can tell every single day he’s getting better and better.”

Cousins is motivated to return better than ever and believes that the Warriors have scary potential: “My drive has only increased. I’m seriously like a madman right now. I think you guys will see a new DeMarcus on the floor. I can’t wait to get to that point just to show all the work I have put in, into this injury. I think you’ll see it when the product is on the floor. But when it comes to this team, I mean, it’s basically there. You can see it on paper. On paper it looks great. Of course we’ve got to go in and put the work in, but the potential is scary for this team, and it’s on us to bring that potential out.”
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