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 centre 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 post-season, 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 defence. In the 6-foot-7-inch, 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 per cent.
"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 favourite 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.
Cousins turned serious at one point when asked about reports that he had been offered a new contract by New Orleans before signing with Golden State.
"Only me and (Pelicans general manager) Dale Demps know what was said on the phone that night," Cousins said. "We both know the truth and I’ll leave it at that."
As for his new team, Cousins has assimilated quickly. He played with several members of the Warriors while winning a gold medal as part of Team USA during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"Me and Draymond clicked right away," Cousins said. "We’re two goofballs that like to joke around a lot. Same with KD and same thing with Steph (Curry). It’s a great group. I think we’ll mesh well."
Until he is medically cleared to play, Cousins will continue to rehab and learn coach Steve Kerr’s system. He’ll also reach out to the Oakland community, something he made a quiet habit of while in Sacramento playing for the Kings.
"I get out in the ‘hoods," Cousins said. "I want to go to the worst, the grimiest places. That’s where I want to be. Those are usually the kids or the communities that kind of get left behind or forgotten about. I feel like I was in that situation at one point. That’s where my mindset is and that’s what I stand for."