Warriors to play stretch of national TV games after Cousins’ expected return

The Warriors are having a subpar season — for their high standards in the Steve Kerr era, anyway. Coach Kerr’s bunch is 27-14 as the year hits the halfway point, and they haven’t been themselves.

Golden State’s hunt for a third straight NBA title has barely begun, however. And All-Star center Demarcus Cousins hasn’t even joined the party yet. He’ll finally return from an Achilles injury suffered as a Pelican, reportedly on Jan. 18, according to ESPN’s Marc Spears.

Coach Kerr didn’t confirm the exact date, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, but did verify his timeline lines up closely with Spears’ report.

Assuming Cousins returns on Jan. 18, he’ll join the NBA Champs at the start of a rough road trip — in front of a national audience. Here’s the Warriors schedule, and TV schedule for that stretch, courtesy of Slater.

That Clippers game, on ESPN, is right at the start of the Warriors’ toughest road trip of the season. It includes games at the Lakers (on TNT), Celtics (on ABC), Wizards (on TNT) and Pacers (on NBA TV). Cousins is about to get tossed into the fire and under the microscope.

Now, everyone can see how Cousins reacts to the challenge of jumping into a championship chase while coming back from injury. The whole NBA world will undoubtedly be watching.

Cousins’ signing with the Warriors rocked the Association. It was a rare case of the rich hitting the lottery. Cousins actually called Golden State and signed a very team-friendly one-year deal.

If Cousins can incorporate himself into the team, the Warriors may be impossible to beat. Injuries to Steph Curry and Draymond Green, an uneven season from Klay Thompson and a near falling out between Green and forward Kevin Durant have knocked things a bit sideways.

But everyone knows Cousins, the four-time All-Star, is on his way. The Warriors can’t truly mesh until all their stars are healthy, so Cousins’ return will be must-watch TV — for those that love the Warriors and also those that don’t.

Warriors coach Kerr says Steph Curry is ‘the short Tim Duncan’

Turmoil surrounds the Golden State Warriors after the one-game suspension of Draymond Green for his emotional outburst directed at Kevin Durant, and coach Steve Kerr says superstar Steph Curry is the leader his team needs to get through these tough times. 

“He’s got the respect of everybody in the organization, on the team,” Steve Kerr told reporters Thursday per The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II. “He’s very wise. He brings us together. He’s a guy we count on to keep things rolling. I’ve said many times, Steph is the short Tim Duncan. Having played with Tim and having been through all kinds of stuff in San Antonio. (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) would tell you, we went through stuff back then — actually, Pop would not tell you — but we went through all kinds of stuff. When you have a guy like Tim Duncan, a guy like Steph Curry, it makes your whole world easier.”

Former NBA center Tim Duncan played 19 seasons as a professional, all with the Spurs, and won five NBA championships, along with three Finals MVP awards. He was as stoic as he was brilliant on the floor. 

Green’s verbal attack of Durant came at the end of Golden State’s overtime loss to the Clippers Monday, Nov. 12. Durant asked why Green didn’t give him the ball at the end of regulation with the score all tied up. Green, fresh off an embarrassing turnover that robbed his team of a potential game-winning shot, didn’t take kindly to Durant’s attitude. Here are some juicy details courtesy of Rob Perez and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. 

It’s a good thing the Warriors have Curry. The longest tenured Warrior and two-time NBA MVP wasn’t in LA the night Green and Durant got into it, but he’s on the road with his team now. Steph’s status and demeanor should help diffuse the situation, and his presence on the road has already paid dividends. Green, Durant and new Warrior and notorious malcontent DeMarcus Cousins were spotted bonding on the bench during Golden State’s blowout loss at Houston on Thursday. 

Here’s footage of the four superstars, via The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. 

The drama, unprecedented during the Warriors dynastic run, has come early in the 2018-19 season. Kerr has seen it all during his career as player and coach. He even reportedly got into a fight with Michael Jordan during his days with the Bulls, as recalled here by NBC Sports. That Kerr believes Curry’s presence alone can overcome the team’s internal strife speaks volumes.