Warriors introduce free-agent prize DeMarcus Cousins

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OAKLAND — For the Warriors, it was a chance to introduce DeMarcus Cousins to their fans and local media.

For Cousins, it was a chance to film a documentary about himself.

Cousins entered an elevator with three cameramen from Showtime Sports a half hour before his first press conference with the Warriors on Thursday.

The cameramen were shooting “The Resurgence,” a series about Cousins’ return from an Achilles tear he suffered Jan. 27. The series will air this fall.

As they took the elevator up to Warriors headquarters on the fifth floor of the Oakland Convention Center, one cameraman said, “OK, DeMarcus, give us three seconds when the doors open to back out slowly. Then, start walking, and we’ll film you entering the Warriors facility for the first time.”

Cousins nodded. He was with the program. The doors opened and the cameramen walked out backward, their lenses fixed on Cousins for this historic shot. Cousins stepped out of the elevator, turned left and walked into a wall.

“No, DeMarcus,” a cameraman said. “The other way.”

Cousins turned around and found Warriors public relations director Raymond Ridder, who led him and his crew down a hallway toward the practice courts. In the future, he doubtlessly will know where they are located.

“This is Clifford Ray,” Ridder said, pointing to a life-size picture on the wall of the former Warriors center who played for the 1975 championship team.

“And this is Wilt Chamberlain,” Ridder said, pointing to a picture of the Hall of Fame center who played for the Warriors from 1959 to 1965. As Cousins walked by the picture, he reached out and tapped it with his knuckle.

Since Chamberlain left the franchise 53 years ago, no Warriors center has averaged more than 25 points and 10 rebounds. Cousins has exceeded those averages each of the past three seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s the closest approximation of Chamberlain the Warriors have had.

“It’s a different dimension,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said of Cousins when the press conference began. “It’s not something we’ve ever had, as far as a low-post threat, since I have been here.”

Myers recalled a phone call he had with coach Steve Kerr before they signed Cousins. “Steve said, ‘I want him on the block.’ And then he said, “But not out on the perimeter.” And so Steve was about to get on the phone with DeMarcus, and I said, ‘Don’t tell him he can’t shoot any 3s. If you let Draymond shoot 3s, you’ve got to let DeMarcus shoot 3s.’ So, Steve said, ‘Maybe one or two.’ ”

This accommodation came just before Cousins signed with the Warriors.

Cousins averaged 6.1 3s per game for the New Orleans Pelicans last season. It is a giant number for a center. He also can be a giant me-first player. He demands the ball and pouts when he doesn’t get it. He fights with teammates and coaches. And he never has taken a team to the playoffs. Despite his talent, which is off the charts, he has a bad reputation.

Why do the Warriors think he’ll be a good teammate now?

“I think most people inherently are good,” said Myers, the Romantic philosopher. “What was interesting was when he made the gesture to come to our team, that was saying, ‘I want to win.’ The money is not the most important thing. You don’t come to our team if you’re looking to be the highest scorer or you’re looking to get statistics. We’re not the place to come for that. This a guy who is shunning a lot of what people are chasing, and that was very attractive to us.”

Myers is optimistic, but he realizes Cousins won’t stay on his best behavior all season.

“There are going to be some moments,” Myers said. “We might need some moments. We need something different, even though we won. There was some stale to our season. I don’t think it’s boring with this guy.

“Whatever his reputation is, he’s a very smart basketball player. He is competitive. He’s passionate. He’s a little like Draymond in that he’s very revealing in what he’s feeling. It’s right there on the surface. If he’s upset, you’re going to see it from 100 yards away.”

Cousins was quite relaxed Thursday morning. As he answered questions on a stage, he reclined in his chair, leaned back and to the side on his armrest. He looked like he was watching cartoons in his living room.

“I’m in a unique situation,” Cousins said. “I’m not needed right away. Time is on my side. I have a chance to get to 100 percent. When I feel I’m at that point, we’ll make the return.”

Myers doesn’t know for sure when the return will be. “I think certainly we’ll have a few months, if not more, before the playoffs to get him acclimated to what we do and for him to get comfortable. The goal is to have as much time as we can without rushing him back.”

The Warriors’ goals for Cousins are modest. Cousins’ goals for Cousins are not. “I plan on coming back being the same dominant player that I was,” he said. “Even better, actually. Nothing will change.”

“You have a reputation as a bad teammate,” a reporter said to Cousins. He nodded. “Will that change?”

Cousins leaned lower on his armrest, posing.

“That’s not me,” he said. Then he laughed and shrugged and smiled for the cameras, a man in love with life.

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