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Warriors coach Steve Kerr says DeMarcus Cousins will start in his first game

Mark Medina, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

OAKLAND, Calif. -- After a long year filled with frustration, determination and progress, DeMarcus Cousins finally has some clarity about his future.

The first involves Cousins' pending return after spending nearly the past 11 months rehabbing his left Achilles tendon. Warriors coach Steve Kerr clarified "we should give ourselves some leeway on either side," but Cousins confirmed that he is targeting to make his Warriors debut on Jan. 16 against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

"It'll be a lot of emotions, honestly," Cousins said following practice on Thursday. "I don't think anybody can ever understand this unless they've experienced it themselves. It'll be a lot of emotions. It'll be a big day for me."

The second involves on whether Cousins will start or come off the bench in when he first wears a Warriors uniform.

"He'll start," Kerr said.

That might be a no brainer considering Cousins is a four-time All-Star and will start with the Warriors' four other All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Once all five players share the floor, they will become the first team since the 1975-76 Boston Celtics to field a starting lineup full of All-Stars from the previous NBA season.

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If only that were the sole variables the Warriors weigh with how to integrate Cousins onto their roster.

"I'm not thinking of it in those terms. If you look at it like fantasy basketball, then you're immediately on the wrong track," Kerr said. "Basketball is not about putting five All-Stars out there. It's fitting them together. The puzzle has to fit."

And right now, the Warriors have scattered all of those puzzle pieces on the floor. They have brainstormed how to assemble it. Perhaps the Warriors (27-14) kick around more ideas considering they still have four more games until Cousins' expected return, including Friday's contest against the Chicago Bulls (10-31) at Oracle Arena.

"Everything is on the table. We'll have to figure out what the rotation looks like and how many minutes he can play," Kerr said. "He'll have to play around with it. The minutes, combinations, sets, we haven't had a player like him here before. It will be new. It won't be as simple to plug him in and he'll fit right in. We'll play through him some, but there will be a period we all have to adapt. Fortunately, we're halfway through the year. We have a lot of games to figure this out."

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