Cousins targeting return on Jan. 18, source says

OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is targeting the Jan. 18 game at the LA Clippers for his season debut, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

Cousins, who tore his left Achilles tendon last January as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and hasn’t played since, is expected to give the Warriors a boost down the stretch as they look to capture their third straight NBA championship.

“All I can tell you is [his return] is closer now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks. “Because the last week his scrimmaging looks much better. It seems to me like he’s gotten through a barrier, conditioning-wise. It’s not easy for anybody coming off an Achilles injury, much less a center who carries a lot of weight and size. But the thing that everybody who has an Achilles comeback talks about is the movement in space and how you have to get comfortable with those movements and that it’s not just a sprained ankle or knee or something where once it’s healed you feel normal. It’s more about growing accustomed to the movement and the pounding.

“So that’s where we are — we’re definitely getting a lot closer than we were. But we don’t have a specific date yet.”

Cousins has been fully taking part in Warriors practices for several weeks after getting a few full-contact practices in with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors late last month.

Cousins, who was expected to sign a max extension last summer prior to the injury, instead inked a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Warriors in hopes of rehabbing the injury and contributing to another Golden State title run. He also is hoping to show prospective teams that he is fully healthy in anticipation of landing a big extension this summer.

Kerr repeatedly has noted that Cousins has fit into the Warriors locker room this season by using his sense of humor and experience to serve as a veteran sounding board for younger players such as Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Damian Jones. Cousins’ presence is especially significant considering that Jones suffered what likely is a season-ending pectoral injury during a loss at the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 1.

While Kerr and the Warriors are excited about Cousins’ return, players and coaches are wondering exactly how the former All-Star will fit into the team’s system during games. The Warriors like to play a fast tempo offensively and are hopeful that Cousins will be able to mold his game into their style as the group tries to get him into a comfort zone.

Information from ESPN’s Nick Friedell was used in this report.

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