“By far, it’s Klay,” he said, cracking up at the mere mention of his name. “For him to be as dull is he is, there’s never a dull moment.”
It bodes well for the Warriors that Cousins arrived at his introductory press conference Thursday touting the virtues of being boring. Because for much of his basketball life, Cousins has been way too interesting. If Klay Thompson is the human snooze button, Cousins is the blaring alarm.
The 6-foot-11, 270-pound center has been cast as divisive, hot-tempered, brooding, immature and combative. And now the Warriors are dropping that personality into their sweet championship chemistry like a packet of Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke.
Is it gonna blow?
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“Yeah there’s going to be some moments,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said. “But we might need some moments. We needed something different, even though we finished the way we wanted to finish. There was some stale to our season. I don’t think it’s boring with this guy.”
Myers said this a few minutes after Cousins put on a charming performance during his first press conference as a Warrior. The four-time All-Star sat on a stage erected on the team’s practice court. And the pressure was on the native of Mobile, Ala., to be on his best behavior: About 160 youth basketball campers lined the perimeter, looking on in wonder.
Cousins delivered one-liners and doses of good humor, including playfully suggesting that it’s been tough to strike a deal to pry uniform No. 0 away from Patrick McCaw. “Let’s just say that Pat’s a tough negotiator,” he said.
He also had a little fun with new teammate Draymond Green, his fellow technical foul magnet. “The Warriors are easy going people,” Cousins said. “Well, maybe outside of Draymond.”
If a reporter’s question hinted at controversy, the big man kept his answer so clipped and bland that Klay himself would have been proud.
And when it was over, Myers compared Cousins not to the stoic half of the Splash Brothers but to the most fiery Warriors player of all.
“Draymond is beautifully imperfect,” Myers said. “But we love him and he wins … I think Cousins is competitive. I think he’s passionate. A little bit like Draymond in that he’s really 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.
“Guys like that are so passionate and competitive, and I’ve always said that about Draymond. You can overcome those deficiencies or faults – if they are faults. If caring too much is a problem, well, you have to care to win in this league. Winning and losing has to matter more than a little bit.”
Cousins, at age 27, showed signs of maturity last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he was sensational on the court, averaging 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in January. More important, he was part of a winning team and bonded with teammate Anthony Davis.
Cousins’ injury rehabilitation could keep him out for several months of the upcoming regular season – he put no timetable on his return Thursday – but he’s already making strides within the Strength in Numbers culture.
Before signing with the Warriors for the taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5.3 million, Cousins reached out to the Warriors established stars to see what they thought of the fit.
“Every guy said, ‘Let’s go get another championship.’ That was the first thing,” Cousins said Thursday. “What really put me at ease was just the excitement. They’re a well-established team and they could have easily been, ‘No, we don’t need him.’ But they were excited, like a team that’s never accomplished anything.”
Cousins has a history with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Green and Thompson. They were part of the roster for Team USA, so there’s a comfort level.
“Draymond and I clicked right away,” Cousins said. “We’re two goofballs that like to joke around a lot.”
This will be Cousins’ ninth NBA season and he has yet to appear in a playoff game. No wonder he can get a little edgy. And no wonder he feels that he’ll be happier in an organization where the regular season is a mere 82-game formality.
“There will be nights where I might score 2 or 4 points,” Cousins said. “There may be nights when I go crazy. That’s the pleasure of being part of this team. We have plenty of options.”
Myers believes in his sincerity, and that’s part of the reason he considers this move a safe one when it comes to the Warriors’ magical chemistry.
“You don’t come to our team if you’re looking to be the highest scorer on the team or you’re looking to get statistics,” he said. “We’re not the place to come for that. We’re the place to come if you want to win.
“Him being open to coming here said more about what he wanted as an individual. That to me was the most reassuring thing. This is a guy who is shunning what a lot of people are chasing. That was very attractive.”