A source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears earlier Tuesday that Cousins was targeting the date for his return.
Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3 million midlevel exception with the Warriors last offseason. He had considered returning Jan. 16 against the visiting Pelicans before he and the Warriors decided on the Jan. 18 return, a source said. Warriors players learned about the return date Monday, a source said.
Kerr noted that Cousins has made some “big strides” in his rehab and conditioning over the past week, and that if that continued and Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance, declared Cousins ready to go,”then it could be” the Jan. 18 game when Cousins returns.
“Maybe it’s the New Orleans game a couple days earlier. Maybe it’s the first game after that, but that’s definitely the range,” Kerr said. “I would say the last two scrimmages that he’s had. It’s looked to us and it’s felt to him that he has broken through a barrier. And we were waiting for that barrier. So that he’s through that barrier, and assuming everything goes well the next week or two, that’s sort of the idea to get him in some time that week.”
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 was expected to sign a max extension last summer before the injury. He is hoping to show prospective teams that he is fully healthy in anticipation of landing a big extension this summer, all while potentially helping Golden State to a third straight title.
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 probably is a season-ending pectoral injury during a loss at the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 1.
Cousins’ teammates are happy that a target date is finally in place.
“It’s exciting,” Warriors All-Star swingman Klay Thompson said. “I know our fan base is excited. The NBA is excited. I can’t wait to integrate him with our team. He adds a whole new dimension. Especially on the block, he’s such a handful down there, his ability to play make. So I’m excited to get DeMarcus back.
“He’s been great in the rehab process. I commend him for sticking with it. People don’t realize how hard that is to do. To just come in every day and not see an endpoint, but just trying to work to get healthy. He’s been so mature about it, and I can’t wait to get out there with him on the floor. I’ve been blessed to play with him with [on] Team USA. I’ve seen up close and personal how good he is.”
Information from ESPN’s Nick Friedell was used in this report.